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“We Decided To Kill 50 People For Every Slain Herdsman” — Head Of Zamfara Bandits Who Renounced Violence

Hassan Dantawaye is the commander of bandits who recently renounced violence following peace talks in Zamfara State. The bandits, who are Fulani herdsmen, had been engaged in killing, kidnapping and other crimes, which they blamed on cattle rustling and harassment by security agencies and local vigilance group. Dantawaye tells MAIHARAJI ALTINE about the peace initiative and some of the atrocities they had committed

Q: You recently said your people were forced into a life of kidnapping, killing and other crimes because you were unjustly treated by the government and society, how were you treated unjustly?

A: Thank you so much for this question. We the Fulani have been facing serious challenges, both from the government and cattle rustlers, some of whom are our own people. I mean some bad eggs among us. Most of them are not even citizens of this country.

We were living peacefully about 10 years ago. There was nothing like cattle rustling or kidnapping let alone killings or destruction of innocent people’s properties. The only issue we had then was Fulani herders/farmers clashes and they were always addressed by community leaders of both the farmers and the Fulani.

Let me tell you the truth of the matter, cattle rustling was the genesis of armed banditry in this country. Many Fulani like me have lost their cattle to the rustlers. You know that the Fulani are neither farmers nor traders; they depend solely on the rearing of animals. So when cattle rustling started in our state in 2013, we did all we could to draw the attention of the government to the problem, to do something about it, but nothing was done to stop the menace. The government ignored our numerous complaints. So as time went on, most of us lost almost all of our animals, and as a result of that, many decided to also engage in cattle rustling to regain their lost animals and also sell some of the animals to buy food and other things.

As time went on, the government realised that cattle rustling was on the increase. So, the former governor, Alhaji Abdul’aziz Yari, quickly ordered that no cow should be sold or taken out of the state until it was certified that the person selling it or taking it outside was the genuine owner of the animal.

So that was when we started having serious problems. We have stolen cows but we had no money to buy food because we didn’t know how to sell the animals. One day, an idea came to us that since the kidnapping of people for ransom was being done in some parts of this country and people were making money from it, we should adopt that to get money for our needs. So you see, if the government had acted fast and arrested the issue of cattle rustling at the time we complained about it, we wouldn’t have been involved in these heinous activities.

Q: You said you also faced serious harassment and intimidation from security personnel and Yan Sakai (a local vigilance group), can you expatiate on your experience?

A: Of course, we faced serious harassment and intimidation from the security personnel and the vigilance group, a factor that further worsened the security situation in the state. The security agents, particularly the police, have been levying charges on our people. They had been collecting money from us unnecessarily simply because both the government and society consider every Fulani man as a criminal. When the ban on the sale of cattle was imposed by the state government, the police took advantage of that to extort money from even genuine Fulani people who own animals, whenever they see them. This issue seriously aggravated the insecurity problems in the state.

The vigilance group and Yan Sakai have also contributed to the insecurity issue considering their negative attitude towards the Fulani people. These two groups have turned themselves into groups that are licensed to kill. They killed any Fulani man they perceived as a bandit or cattle rustler and the government did not take any serious action to stop the menace. Many of our people were killed by these people. After realising that the government was not ready to stop the killing of our people by these two groups, we decided to pay back with reprisals. From that day, we decided to kill at least 50 people whenever one of us was killed.

Q: You mentioned cattle rustling, how many cows are you aware were rustled in the last one year, or example?

A: Nobody can answer this question but l can tell you that more than half of our people have lost their animals. Many of them have died of hypertension, while several others have turned to beggars as they have nothing left with them.

Q: What was your personal cattle rustling experience?

A: Believe me, I lost 372 cows and a large number of sheep. My family members have also lost many. In fact, that was my reason for leaving my village and moving to the forest as an alternative home and becoming a bandit, because I had nothing left to depend on.

Q: In the course of all that, did you share your concerns with the government before your people resorted to kidnapping and killing?

A: How many times do you want me to explain this? I told you that we did all we could to convince the government to come to our aid, particularly with regards to cattle rustling. The police had a bad attitude towards our people and there was the persistent killing of our people by the villagers and volunteer groups, but our appeals to the government fell on deaf ears.

Q: What specific response did you get?

A: Not much attention was given to our plight.

Q: How did you become the commander of the bandits?

A: I became the commander because of my total commitment to the plight of my people. They have respect for me because I am very sincere and committed to protecting their interest. I am always contacted by the present administration of Governor Bello Matawalle for any peace accord and whatever he says is accepted by the group.

Q: What do you do normally?

A: As to how?

Q: How do you discharge your duty as the leader of the bandits?

A: The issue is now over. We have embraced peace moves initiated by Governor Matawalle, as such; there is no need for me to tell you the mode of operations since the chapter is now closed.

Q: Are you all Fulani herdsmen?

A: Yes, the people under my command are all Fulani herdsmen. But I cannot say that all bandits are Fulani people because there are several instances where people from other tribes were arrested for banditry. There are many people arrested for banditry and when you look at their identities, you find out that some of them are not Fulani.

Q: How was the group formed? Did you all come together after identifying one another as victims of cattle rustling and so on?

A: You are very correct. The majority of those in our group are victims of armed banditry or other forms of intimidation by either the security personnel or vigilance group. But there are also others who only joined us to fight our enemies and also get something for their families.

Q: Did they undergo any training before they started kidnapping and killing?

A: No, they didn’t need any special training except only on how to operate AK 47 or other weapons. Once a person knew how to use a gun and fight his enemy, he had met our requirements. The kidnapping issue is not something one can be trained on. We normally had our targets. So we only sent our boys to go and kidnap this or that person. We also blocked some roads and kidnapped motorists.

Q: Many of you have surrendered weapons, guns and so on after renouncing, how many have been submitted to the government so far?

A: We surrendered some guns, but you know, the peace process is still ongoing. We are still studying the situation in order to ascertain the level of commitment and seriousness of the government before we finally surrender all of our weapons. Don’t forget that we had a similar peace accord with the past administration of former Governor Yari, when thousands of weapons were surrendered to the government. But at the end of the day, the peace accord failed to yield any positive result. But, I trust the current peace accord of the new governor, Alhaji Bello Matawalle. The governor is really serious; that is why we have released almost all those people we kidnapped in various places. We will soon surrender all the weapons in our possession.

Q: How do your people get the weapons?

A: This is top secret. I cannot disclose this for now but when the time comes, I will answer your question.

Q: Why did you see kidnapping and killing as the solution?

A: I told you earlier that we resorted to kidnapping because we were left with no option as the government at that time banned the sale of animals and we were almost out of cash to purchase food. Similarly, we resorted to killing in order to avenge the killing of our own people by the vigilance group and Yan Sakai.

Q: How many people were you involved in their kidnap?

A: They were many. I cannot precisely tell you their number.

Q: What about killing? Is that something you can talk about?

No.

Q: How were the peace talks with the vigilantes initiated?

A: The peace talks were initiated by the state police commissioner, Alhaji Usman Nagogo, who invited all the stakeholders, that is the Fulani people, vigilance group and Yan Sakai to a meeting where every group was given a chance to voice their grievances. After a series of meetings, we all agreed that there was a need for all of us to forgive one another and embrace peace. We agreed to release the people we had abducted if the government could also release our people that had been imprisoned.

Governor Matawalle has not only accepted our request but has also promised to provide us with government assistance for us to live happily like our counterparts, the farmers. He has also proscribed the activities of the vigilance group and Yan Sakai.

Q: The public has also had problems with the way your herders also roam from place to place with their cattle, destroying farm crops and so on? Will you say that is fair?

A: I will not say that it is fair. You see, farmers depend on their farms to survive and the Fulani depend on their animals. So it is very unfair for the Fulani to destroy food crops. But sometimes we have no alternative because more than 80 per cent of grazing areas have now been encroached into by farmers. There used to be enough grazing lands demarcated by the government in those days mainly for cattle. They are called cattle routes. These lands have been taken over by farmers and the government did not bother much about it. So that is why we are having problems with those who have encroached into the cattle routes and grazing lands. If this issue is addressed by the government, I am telling you, the issue of destruction of crops will be over.

Q: Many of your kidnap victims are still in captivity; will you ensure the release of all these people following the peace initiative?

A: As far as I am concerned, nobody is currently being held captive in Zamfara State. We have released our captives and the government has also released our people arrested by security agents.

Q: But people are still being kidnapped, though the situation has gone down, what are you doing to ensure that killing and kidnapping stop totally?

A: We have not kidnapped anybody in one week as the government is doing its best to fulfil its promise. Nobody was kidnapped or killed during the Eid el Kabir festival. So there is relative peace in the state now.

Q: How do you pass the message of peace across to the various cells of bandits?

A: It is easy to communicate nowadays with mobile phones. So we communicate with our people through phone calls.

Q: What do you think is the solution to all the problems of insecurity in the country?

This is very simple. Justice is the solution to the problem of insecurity in Nigeria.

Q: What do you mean?

A: I mean everybody should be treated justly and with fairness. All Nigerians must be treated equally. The government should try as much as possible to make sure that the right of every Nigerian is adequately protected. If this is done, I assure you, the problem of insecurity would be adequately addressed. (Punch)

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North Will Suffer If Nigeria Breaks Up —Dr Gumi |The Republican News

Sheikh Dr Ahmad Abubakar Gumi

A prominent Islamic scholar, Dr Ahmad Abubakar Mahmud Gumi, has declared that Nigeria will disintegrate and that the North will suffer most compared to the other regions.

According to him, in the face of a possible break up, the Southwest will be relatively stable; Southeast will be stable, but the North will be volatile.

Narrating what Nigeria will be like if disintegrated, the cleric said, “I see chaos and probably Nigeria can even disintegrate. And disintegration will be bad for Nigeria,” he was quoted by Sun.

“Let me tell you about the North if there is disintegration. The worst thing any country will like is to have an unstable country as a neighbour.

“So, Southwest will be relatively stable; Southeast will be stable, but the North will be volatile. How can we contain Boko Haram in the Northeast? No way.

“How can we contain the problem of the herdsmen in the North? We cannot contain them.

“In fact, the little weight the Southwest and Southeast are adding to fight them is what is suppressing them, but if you go and leave us with them we will just eat ourselves and you have a very volatile North and I do not think we will have peace there because the borders are not barbed-wires and there are so many inter-marriages.

“In fact, Nigeria will just be like another Lebanon or Yemen. Nobody can control the North because nobody has monopoly of power in the North.

“The herdsmen, if they have any iota of political acumen, even if they are evil since your man is in power what do you do? You lie low to allow him to have the power.

“You don’t become so virulent that you end up destroying the northern power by attacking people everywhere not caring who is there. Let me tell you this.

“Nobody is in control of the North now. No northern politician has that clout to embrace everybody in the North.

“Everybody in the North is with his clique and that is a very dangerous situation for the country. The Southwest is divided into two equal house and nobody is in control there too, but generally, the people there are not violent.

“They can negotiate and stay in peace. The people of the Southeast seem to understand each other because their own is business. I see it to be more stable even though the Kanu IPOB people are there because generally the population there can understand and negotiate.

“They can only have population problem if people ask them to go back to their region. But the North? So, you can just imagine

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Oodua Groups Write Sultan Of Sokoto Over Fulani Herdsmen Murderous Activities |The Republican News

Sultan Of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Sa’ad

Various Yoruba groups have written an open letter to the Head of Muslims and Fulani group in Nigeria, Alhaji Abubakar Sa’ad, the Emir of Sokoto, who is the direct descendant of Uthman Dan Fodio

In their letter, they outlined so many issues in the history of Nigeria and hope that this wouldn’t be the last time they would have opportunity to dialogue.

Their letter is below:

Open letter to the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar Sa’ad and the Fulani leaders

August 08, 2019

The Sultan of Sokoto and Fulani Leader
His Eminence
Alhaji Abubakar Sa’ad

THE STATE OF THE NATION
We write this letter to you considering your importance as the head of the Fulani people in Nigeria. You are also the head of Fulani Muslims in Nigeria.It is our hope that you will be able to share the thoughts expressed here with the 7 million Fulani people in Nigeria through your traditional means of communication.
We write to honour you with this letter, given the floundering opportunities for a dialogue on the future of Nigeria, which has eluded the various ethnic groups in Nigeria and which may not enhance itself too soon.
Given the drumbeats of armed violence and extremism perpetrated largely by your people, and the fleeting prospects of a national dialogue, we hope this letter will not be the last opportunity to constructively engage you and the Fulani nation.

We, on behalf of Apapo Oodua Koya, (AOKOYA), a coalition of several Itsekiri, Edo and Yoruba groups write with our deepest feelings about the Nigerian state and what appears to be the pitfalls that lay ahead, most of which are oiled and orchestrated by your own people, the Fulani, albeit consciously.

THE PAST

There was no history of Fulani in today’s territory until 1804. This was 800 years after the Yoruba Kingdoms had been established, about 600 years after the Hausa, Ijaw, Tiv, Igala, Junkun Kingdoms had flourished. The Igbo Nation had existed for centuries before your people wandered into this hemisphere.
We recall that your forebears came to power through brutal and bloody conquest of indigenous peoples in many parts of Northern Nigeria under the guise of Islam eventhough Islam had taken firm roots in Yorubaland, Kano and Bornu Empires as early as the 11th century.
Since your sojourn in Nigeria, you have been very lucky.

A whole country of over 300 ethnic groups, was handed over to you a foreigner, first through conquest of some of its part, you, who never owned an inch of land centuries earlier in this hemisphere.
You have reaped the fruits which trees you did not plant and you knew not when they were planted.

Moreso, you were from a family of wonders and your emergence as Emir and traditional ruler was unusual, having no royal blood in your veins ab initio.

No doubt, You succeeded in taking over the land, the main means of production of these innocent peoples whose main offence was that they were too caring, too gentle, too subservient and accommodating of foreigners in their ancestral homeland, Today, you seat on a throne soaked with the blood of millions of innocent souls anguished with deafening ears to the agony of the spirit of millions of victims of the horrendous killings by your men, who came from Fouta Jallon in Senegal, only some 210 years ago.

The British left in 1960 and you emerged as the main benefactor eventhough your people were not known to have fought for independence. You were wise enough to plant your people in the security institutions, a reflection of your preference for force and brigandage instead of a knowledge-driven society.
Through direct military intervention or subterfuge, sly plots, you have been ruling Nigeria, or determining who rule Nigeria since 1960. This is a rare luck that only courageous people can manage for some time, but needs wise, intelligent, decent and conscientious people to manage for a millennium.

Under the false, artificial creation called Nigeria, your people produce no oil, yet you appropriate and decide how the resources should be expended.

You have no access to the Ocean, yet you decide which goods should be imported and which vessel should ply routes that indigenous owners of this God given oceans had been using for centuries. All the military weapons were bought not by your money, but you decide who should use them and who should be killed by the same weapons. You have no richest scholarly tradition, yet your people sit on the Nigerian Universities Commission, (NUC) and decide the faith of other Nigerians. You located all the military institutions in your land, more out of fear than out of love for justice and fairplay.
90 percent of Nigerian resources are sourced from the South and Middle Belt, yet you decide how the funds should be spent. Did you think this irresponsible way of life will continue for ever? Did your people think we are foolish and even if we are, did you think coming generations will accept this brazen exploitation? We have called for dialogue on these issues, but you call it treason.
The truth is that you have grossly mismanaged this opportunity. Your ruinous and destructive tradition has robbed on all Nigerians. Your intuition for aggression has become a national culture. Your disdain for debate and logical criticisms has been imbibed by Nigerians who continue to gravitate towards the custodians of political power, whose way of life must be imbibed for recognition.
You have ruined and destroyed this whole nation at your beckon due to your exclusive, narrow, primordial and savage instincts driven only by your self interest and your brutal and non-negotiable desire to conquer and subdue every nationality in Nigeria. This is a tall task which you are hell bent in executing.

THE INVASION OF YORUBALAND BY FULANI HERDSMEN
We like to caution you on your latest antics to renew your grand 1804 design to conquer the entire country, not through ideas but through the most savage tradition of killings and maiming.
This to us is at the bottom of the current Fulani kidnapping in Yorubaland. We wish to inform you that we are aware of your grand plan to renew a project done half way and put on mute mode since the defeat of your forces in 1840 by the Yoruba Army.
We are worried that you and your Fulani people have been suspiciously silent on the kidnapping of Yoruba people, the killing of our young professionals including the killing of the daughter of a prominent Yoruba leader.
We were not surprised that you and the other Fulani leaders did not consider it necessary to send condolence messages or even visit the family of the slain woman. This can only mean your tacit approval or at least, a philosophy of cold compromise.
Please be aware that in the past two years, records show that 689 Yoruba people have been kidnapped by your people, Fulani, about 400 reported cases of rape, including rape of toddlers. Out of this number of the kidnapped, 356 were women, and out of that number, 250 were married women.
In all, 112 people were killed by your Fulani people either for resisting kidnap or for failing to pay ransom. This may mean nothing to you, but to us, it means a lot.
We urge you to imagine a group of armed Yoruba cocoa farmers storming forests in Kano, Katsina and Sokoto, kidnapping Fulani people, raping their young girls and even killing the daughter of an Emir or a prominent Fulani leader? Can you also imagine the same heavily armed Yoruba cocoa farmers occupying your forests, stopping your people from farming and preventing your people from plying the highways in their ancestral homes?
To make the matter worse, imagine the armed Yoruba cocoa farmers carry out these terrible crimes under the banner of a Yoruba man as the Nigerian President. How will you feel?
As it is, your people, the Fulani are digging their hands down our throats. They are entering our bedrooms and sleeping with our mothers and wives. These actions are not only against Islam, they are against humanity.
These latest actions plus our experiences in the past have combined to renew the energy of millions of Yoruba people who want a country of their own. Either you like it or not, this will happen. God, before whom you and your big crown are like but a filthy rag, will make it happen. We urge you to prepare your self to dialogue or if you chose the path of violence, there will be proportional response.
Having Yoruba or Igbo Republics is something you do not wish to hear, but which is imminent and inevitable. Please be aware that the Yoruba do not begrudge your values and the ways of your living, all we are saying is that we want to live our lives, design our political and cultural architecture, live and die on our own terms. The forthcoming Yoruba Republic will be glad to accommodate righteous Fulani people who respect our civilisations and the laws of our fatherland.
We wish to use this opportunity to advice you and your people to be aware that you have no power to conquer Yoruba Nation. Your forebears tried and failed. Your military and political surrogates tried, marked with killings, maiming and destruction of our economy, yet they failed.
We ask you to instruct your people, the armed Fulani herdsmen to withdraw from Yoruba territories and on their own, mop up the cache of arms and ammunition stored in Yoruba territories.
Sir, the Yoruba people stand for peace and not war. We would prefer these issues to be resolved amicably without firing any gun shot. But, we wish to say that if your heart remains rebellious and your soul defiant, the Yoruba people are not afraid to confront you once again the way we did some 175 years ago, this time in the most ferocious manner you can ever imagine. It is necessary to let you know this even though we are aware that you will not change the conquest desires of your heart. We wish you a happy Salah and Allah’s wisdom to know and do what is right

Yours Sincerely,

Col Abimbola Sowumi (rtd)
Mallam Salau Ahmed Akorede
For Apapo Oodua Koya, (AOKOYA)
The Yoruba self determination group

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BREAKING NEWS: 2 Dead, 20 Cows Killed As Biafran Youths Engage Fulani Herdsmen In Cross River

By Chukwuemeka Chimerue

CALABAR— Palpable fear and tension has enveloped Cross River State community as suspected members of Biafra National Youth League, BNYL, has engaged some Fulani herdsmen terrorising inhabitants of the community in a physical combat.

According to an unconfirmed report reaching our correspondent in Calabar, two herdsmen and 20 cows has been killed so far in the duel.

The confrontation is currently happening at the border town of Odukpani-Itu river side in Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River State.

More details coming…

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