Those of us from Jibia LGA of Katsina state have been in a state of mourning for the past ten days. Last week, bandits launched an attack on Kukar Babangida community of Jibia LGA. The infamous guests had visited Kukar Babangida on many occasions but this is probably the worst. They killed the ward head Alhaji Haruna along with nine others.
Kukar Babangida is located about 15 kilometers from Jibia on Jibia-Katsina highway. It was called Kukar Zaure until sometime during the administration of General Babangida when he launched the annual tree planting campaign at the village. It was on that occasion that the then Emir of Katsina Alhaji Muhammad Kabir Usman renamed it Kukar Babangida. Of course, for a local community to be validly renamed it must have the blessing of the emirate. In its own case, Kukar Zaure was renamed by the Emir himself. The annual tree planting campaign was a very good practice of military regimes that has been abandoned by politicians for no obvious good reasons.
Magaji Zaure, which is his traditional title refused to relocate to either Katsina or Jibia like many of his colleagues have done. He has always stated that it would be a breach of trust to abandon his people and run away. This time around he paid the supreme price. If you have been following my writeups for the past eight years you would understand the kind of frustrations to which our communities have been subjected with respect to insecurity. Lives have been lost, women and girls disgraced, people kidnapped for ransom, farmers displaced from their farmlands and communities occupied.
This introduction would only tell you how badly in need people like me are for a solution to the problem of insecurity. That is why when I came across a video clip yesterday my curiosity was piqued.
The clip, which is obviously a news item from a Hausa service of one of those big foreign radio stations is about the launching of a vigilante group by the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore Association. The activity which took place in Nasarawa state featured a parade by the new recruits in their uniform, a fashion parade by Fulani youth and an interview with the President of the Miyetti Allah group, one Alhaji Bello Abdullahi Bodijo. The occasion was also graced by very senior police officers.
According to Alhaji Bodijo, the aim of establishing the group is to assist regular security forces to “peacefully” arrest criminals without killing the innocent. Asked whether or not they have obtained Government approval to establish the group, he only expressed hope that the Federal Government and its security forces would give them the necessary recognition. “We shall also help Nigerian Governors to tackle the problem of insecurity”.
In Nasarawa state alone, Alhaji Bodijo stated, they are going to recruit 4,000 members. To start with, they have already screened 2140 selected from different (Fulani) families. He promised to end the security problem in Nasarawa state in six months. While stating that they have their traditional sticks, Alhaji Bodijo promised to seek Government approval to obtain weapons allowed by law.
First, let me commend the Miyetti Allah group for their concern about the insecurity problem bedevilling Nigeria and for the first time admitting the contribution of their kinsmen to the problem. That most of the bandits operating in the North West and North Central states are Fulani is not debatable. This became well known during the time of Buhari when he directed Governors in the North West geopolitical zone to dialogue with bandits. All the bandits’ leaders that met with Governor Masari were Fulani and they are well known with some of them still moving unscathed even when the Federal Government is spending billions of Naira of taxpayers’ money on insecurity.
With the resolve and non-cowardly nature of Fulani, I have no doubt that if the all-Fulani group decide to face their criminal kinsmen, banditry will come to an end in a very short time. But are they ready to do it?
Miyetti Allah Kautel Hore group has itself been criticized for aiding and abetting criminality on several occasions. Perhaps the best known for this accusation is the immediate past Governor of Benue state. We can also recall that a point in time a Zamfara state commissioner of Police issued a warning to the Miyetti Allah group to bring an end to banditry in the state or face the wrath of the law.
The tone of Alhaji Bodijo does not suggest that Miyetti Allah group is ready to face the criminal elements among their kinsmen fire for fire. In fact, he mentioned the name of a hardened criminal in the North West and stated that they are ready to partner with people like him to end insecurity. But Alhaji Bodijo has a reply for me if he wants it. What is news about partnering with bandits if Government with its security forces and an obligation to protect lives and property has dialogued with them on several occasions?
But come. Why Nasarawa state? Does the Governor have any interest in the new Miyetti Allah project? Politicians can be unpredictable. Many of them have been accused of using ethnic militia for their political agenda. Governor Abdullahi Sule should come clean on this.
Or, does the Nasarawa project have anything to do with the “innocent” herdsmen killed by the military sometime in 2022? We are aware that the Horijo, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi visited both President Buhari and President Tinubu to seek for compensation for his tribesmen even though he has never done so with respect to the many innocent people killed by criminals suspected to be of Fulani descent. How are we sure that this project is not about revenge?
Assuming revenge is not the first idea. If an incident like the one in question happens again, can we rule out a confrontation between an armed Miyetti Allah vigilante group and the Nigerian Air Force? If the group has branches in all states of the Federation or at least the Northern states would that not be a major disaster?
By the way, this is Nigeria, a multiethnic and multireligious nation. Any security outfit to be recognized by Government at state or Federal level must not be ethnically biased. While Fulani herdsmen (Fulanin daji as they are called) have a very good knowledge of the forest because of the nature of their occupation, the collaborators of forest-based bandits are usually hidden in the cities. The victims of banditry are mostly people in the villages and they can tell the different ways in which bandits attack. All these mean that an unbiased vigilante group must compose of the different categories of people not just people with knowledge of the forest.
My advice for MACBAN is to modify their approach. Reach out to other interest groups and form an all-inclusive vigilante group. Government should do the screening with inputs from Miyetti Allah Kautel Hore and other law-abiding groups.
Recognizing the new group without modification is a potential disaster for Nigeria.
Professor Abdussamad Umar Jibia