■Accuses Buhari of fast-tracking Nigeria’s disintegration
■Says any tribe plotting to attack Igbo’ll have to prepare well
The youth wing of the apex Igbo socio-cultural body, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo has given a 48-hour ultimatum to every Fulani with AK-47 in any part of South East or be treated like “bush meat”.
The ultimatum is coming on the heels of the revelation that over 332 Fulani camps across South East are occupied with AK-47 carrying Fulani militia.
Former Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIG Celestine Okoye, had in a media interview, said that “there are 332 Fulani herdsmen settlers heavily armed with AK47 rifles across the five states of the South East zone waiting to unleash terror on Ndigbo.”
National President of Ohanaeze Youths Council, Igboayaka. O Igboayaka, who said the revelation had corroborated an earlier similar report by a civil society organisation, said Igbo youths would not sit idly to watch terrorists circle and invade Igbo land.
He therefore, warned “all Fulani herdsmen with AK47 rifles to immediately vacate their hidden locations in Igbo land within 48 hours or risk being treated like bush animals wherever they are sighted with weapons.”
OYC accused President Muhammadu Buhari and the security agencies of maintaining criminal silence over the disturbing revelation, saying they should be held accountable for any security breach or genocidal attack in Igbo land.
According to OYC Ndigbo will be left with no option than to resort to self defense which may eventually lead to fragmentation of the country.
“President Buhari and his security agencies who are aiding and abetting the crimes of criminal Fulani herdsmen should understand that they have done everything necessary to ensure Nigeria’s disintegration”, Igboayaka fumed.
Igboayaka in a press statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Chukwuemeka Chimerue, said any tribe plotting to attack Ndigbo now might need to prepare well.
The statement read in part: This revelation is in line with a recent research made by International Society For Civil Liberties & The Rule Of Law(Intersociety), one of the leading civil society groups in Nigeria wherein they published that 433 locations in Igbo land are domiciled by these dreaded Fulani herdsmen waiting to attack the entire old Eastern region.
“Buhari and his kinsmen have divided Nigeria, leading the country into anarchy, tribal hate and crisis.”
He cautioned the President and his kinsmen to have a rethink “on their covert Fulanization agenda and ethnic cleansing of other nationalities in Nigeria”, reminding them that “the Fulani who are not more than seven million in population cannot successfully conquer over eighty million Igbo”.
“The 1967-1970 genocide against Ndigbo where all tribes in the West, Middle-West and Hausa tribe fought against Ndigbo would not repeat again.
“Fulanis should get ready to contend with the forces of all the ethnic nationalities in Nigeria if they go ahead to embark on this impending attack against Ndigbo,” Igboayaka stated.
The Oodua Peoples Congress, on Sunday, said the men of Nigeria Police Force in the Oyo State detained three OPC operatives for arresting notorious Fulani warlord Iskilu Wakili, who has been accused of sundry crimes in the Ayete area of Ibarapaland in the state.
The PUNCH had reported that farmers and residents of Ayete lived in perpetual fear of Wakili who was accused of displacing them from their farms.
It was also gathered that Wakili, who is said to be the leader of the herdsmen in Ayete worked with dozens of herders who are his disciples. Together with his battalion, they allegedly seized hectares of farmlands at Ayete, raped the women in the rustic town, and kidnapped their rich men for ransom.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, Adedeji Oluwole, the OPC sector coordinator who led his operatives and other vigilante groups to arrest Wakili, said the suspect was nabbed on Sunday morning.
Oluwole, the Federal Capital Territory OPC coordinator, who is also an indigene of Igboora, said he relocated four months ago to Ayete to bring Wakili to book after security agencies failed to arrest him.
The OPC leader said it took over four days of continued operations and surveillance to nab Wakili and three of his accomplices.
According to Oluwole, more than 10 OPC operatives went on the mission. He said Wakili’s men shot fiercely at the OPC operatives before they were eventually nabbed.
He, however, expressed shock that the police detained three of his men after they handed over Wakili.
“We took Wakili and the three others from Igangan to Igboora and handed them over to the DPO at Igboora. The name of the DPO is Ajayi Mark. As I am talking to you, they have taken them to Iyaganku at the State CID in Ibadan with three of my boys,” Oluwole told The PUNCH on Sunday afternoon.
Continuing, he said, “When we took Wakili to the police this morning, the police said we should take Wakili to the hospital first which we refused because we are not in a position to do that. We told the police that they have been complaining all these days that they wanted to arrest Wakili and now we have brought Wakili to their doorstep, they should take over.
“Nobody touched Wakili, nobody hurt him, there are no traces of any hurt on him. He is an old man and we had promised the whole world that we won’t hurt them but we would arrest them for the whole world to see who is Wakili because all these while, he has been a faceless person, nobody knows him. We didn’t beat him or harm him. When we nabbed him, we put him inside a vehicle and handed him over to the police.
“The DPO then said he got a signal from the CP (Commissioner of Police) in Iyaganku. They have taken three of my men to Iyaganku now.”
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in Oyo State, Olugbenga Fadeyi, did not respond to calls put to his line. A text message sent to his phone was also not replied to as of the time of filing this report.
Angry reactions have trailed the arrest of a media aide to Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).
Salihu Tanko Yakasai, popularly known as Dawisu, was reportedly arrested by the state security agents after taking to social media to critise the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) government over recent abductions of schoolchildren in the country.
Dawisu had said that the APC government “at all levels” had failed Nigerians in their primary duties of protecting lives and property.
He mentioned Friday’s abduction of over 300 schoolgirls in Jangebe, Zamfara, and over 300 schoolboys in Kankara, Katsina, last December, as proofs that the APC government had failed.
Dawisu, who is a member of the APC, had asked President Buhari and governors of troubled states in the country to “deal with terrorists decisively or resign”.
Kano State residents were said to have complained about Dawisu’s whereabouts after his series of tweets criticising the government for failing to protect the citizens.
Following his reported arrest, #FreeDawisu trended at number one on Saturday on Twitter as Nigerians criticised President Buhari and the state security service for constantly attempting to muzzle free speech in a democratic setting.
Co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls movement, Aisha Yesufu, said the DSS was now “competing with kidnappers to abduct citizens”.
She added that, “It is more relieving to be with DSS not because they have not infringed on your right or kill you as kidnappers would but because you will not pay RANSOM! Dawisu is a citizen with the right to speak his mind #FreeDawisu”
EiE Nigeria, an advocacy group for good governance, described Dawisu’s arrest as, “a dangerous sign of a government that fears it is losing its mandate and is falling into panic.”
It said, “Critics are being arrested on ludicrous charges… while bandits roam free, tells us very clearly where Nigeria is headed. #FreeDawisu”
Below are some of the twitter reactions to Dawisu’s arrest
Shame! DSS competing with kidnappers to abduct citizens. It is more relieving to be with DSS not because they have not infringed on your right or kill you as kidnappers would but because you will not pay RANSOM! Dawisu is a citizen with the right to speak his mind#FreeDawisuhttps://t.co/8H6pVJL1nm
#FreeDawisu Lawless DSS has arrested @dawisu for freely expressing his views regarding the failure of the @MBuhari’s govt. The DSS lazy leadership can’t help Nigerians facing insecurity but only ready and happy to pounce on Nigerians critical of the failing regime #BuhariMustGo
Just to be clear, criminals are getting interviews and being received like diplomats, whilst a citizen got arrested for this? Even if you ate directly off @MBuhari’s table this morning, you should be worried. You aren’t free in this “democracy” as it is today #FreeDawisupic.twitter.com/ssXKzQ2qrQ
The resources that ought to be disbursed for tackling burning national issues like banditry has unfortunately been wasted in abducting @dawisu in Kano and transporting him to Abuja. For what, I ask? What’s this madness for God’s sake? To intimidate government critics? #FreeDawisu
The law moved extremely fast against @dawisu for asking better of government than it has moved against the so called bandits. As it is, the bandits are getting paid for their killings and abductions whilst this citizen was arrested for being a citizen. Be worried #FreeDawisupic.twitter.com/cvqFSLSFW4
■Abducted Passengers, Kagara School Children Will Be Release Soon- Gumi
■Bandits Took Gumi To Where a Whole Community Was Razed by Military Bombardments, Corpses Dumped In Wells
■Bandits leader Berates Gov El-Rufai
By Tukur Mamu (Desert Herald)
In continuation of his efforts to take the message of Islam to armed Fulani bandits and to explore dialogue as the only means of addressing the uprising associated with killings and kidnappings, Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Abubakar Mahmud Gumi has accepted the invitation of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State.
The invitation coincidentally came at a time when double tragedy has befallen the state; first with the abduction of over 30 passengers in a bus belonging to the state transport service and the latest kidnapping of school children and their teachers in Kagara. Niger State has suffered most worst bandits attacks in the last three years.
On arrival at the state capital, Sheikh Gumi had gone into a close-door meeting with his host, Governor Bello. During the brief meeting on Wednesday, Sheikh Gumi had emphasized to the Governor the importance of dialogue especially in a society where government did not have the capacity to fully protect lives and properties from incessant attacks. He advised Governor Bello to use part of the money his government is spending on security to address some of the major concerns and grievances of the Fulani herdsmen. Governor Bello had thank Sheikh Gumi for the visit and for his endless sacrifices across the country. He said having tried the military option alone without commensurate success, he is now convinced more than ever before that dialogue and teaching the armed Fulanis about their religion and integrating them into the society as the Sheikh always admonishes government is the only way to address rampant cases of insecurity particularly in his state. Governor Bello told Gumi that his administration is ready for constructive engagement and dialogue with the armed Fulanis and acknowledged that over the years Fulani herdsmen were forgotten by governments at all levels and that there has never been any provision in previous budgets for their welfare in the past. Both Gumi and Governor Governor Bello are in total agreement that given out ransom to the rampaging herdsmen is not the option and that government will resist it and that instead provision of basic amenities like schools, water for human and animal consumption, clinics and job creation will be prioritised for them.
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno, IGP Mohammed Adamu, Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola and that of Information, Lai Mohammed also joined the meeting with Sheikh Gumi at the Government House Minna on Wednesday. The federal cabinet members were at Minna to coordinate efforts in rescuing the kidnapped victims on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari. Also in the entourage of Sheikh Gumi that attended the meeting includes Prof. Usman Yusuf, Desert Herald Publisher, Mallam Tukur Mamu, Chief Imam of Sultan Bello Mosque, Sheikh Muhammad Suleiman Adam and one of the leaders of Meyetti Allah, Shehu Buba.
Gumi’s team had on Wednesday proceeded to Kontagora where they spent the night and proceeded to Kotonkoro on Thursday morning. Because of the bad road, the journey to Kotonkoro took Sheikh Gumi about 5 hours. The purpose of the difficult journey to Kotonkoro is to visit the dreaded Dutsen Magaji forest where the Sheikh has work tirelessly to secure a scheduled appointment with top commanders of the Fulani bandits that are terrorising Niger State and some parts of Kaduna precisely the notorious Birnin Gwari area. Before his departure to Kontagora, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello has instructed his Secretary to the State Government, SSG, whose office is also in-charge of security in the state to follow Sheikh Gumi wherever he will go. The Governor who has demonstrated determination to end kidnappings and armed banditry in his state assured Sheikh Gumi that whatever recommendation that comes out of his engagement with the bandits as long as it is for their welfare and full integration back to the society his government will support and mobilize resources towards actualising it.
The journey from Kotonkoro to Dutsen Magaji forest is about 50 kilometers and without any provision for road network. It took Sheikh Gumi, the SSG and members of the entourage another two hours before reaching the deadly forest. The highly armed bandits under the leadership of Dogo Gide have strategically positioned themselves at the forest in case of any eventuality. Their faces and appearance demonstrate no mercy and easily sends fear.
Gumi’s peace and preaching mission at Dutsen Magaji forest is so far the most successful considering how volatile the area is and consistency of attacks. During the preaching session, each of the bandits commanders were given the chance by Gumi to address the crowd. They separately narrated their ordeal, their frustrations and why they resorted to banditry. They said they only accepted the invitation because they were told it was Sheikh Gumi. Their overall leader, Dogo Gide and other top commanders (Kachallas) were captured by Desert Herald through video and audio during separate briefings at the forest. Desert Herald is the only news medium that covers the difficult and risky journey to Dutsen Magaji forest. The coverage was done undercover as the top commanders have warned against taking pictures or video.
The top bandits commander, Dogo Gide during his speech had lambasted Governor Nasir El-Rufai for his stand against dialogue and threatened the people of Kaduna state but Sheikh Gumi was quick to interrupt and assured him that all the governors of the North West are now in agreement that the Fulani herdsmen have been forgotten by governments for many years and that they will henceforth work towards giving the herdsmen special attention.
The SSG of Niger State had also delivered the message of Governor Bello to them and assured them about his government’s sincerity and commitment to address their concerns and grievances. He took note of their demands and grievances and promised to convey same to Governor Bello as soon as he arrives Minna for immediate consideration while Sheikh Gumi on his part will monitor progress of implementation before the federal government steps in.
On his part, Sheikh Gumi took time to preach to them about forgiveness, peace and dialogue in Islam. He told them that in Islam there is no justification at all for reprisal attacks, killings, kidnappings and rape. He admonished them about alcohol and drug consumption or taking the laws into their own hands. He assured them that he will not deceive them and urged them not to disappoint him. Sheikh Gumi specifically pleaded with the armed Fulani bandits to immediately release all those they abducted particularly the recent kidnappings that made newspaper headlines across the country. He assured them he will do whatever it takes to convince the president and the National Assembly to create a Commission for the herdsmen that will work towards addressing imbalances and injustice done to the Fulanis. He encourages them to always seek for Islamic knowledge and to be consistent in their 5 daily prayers. Gumi had distributed Islamic books them and hundreds of wrappers for their wives. The items were contributed by the foundation under him.
Apparently satisfied with the sincerity of Sheikh Gumi, leader of the bandits, Dogo Gide has assured him that he will not be disappointed and that on their part they will do everything possible to maintain the peace and give reasonable time pending when they are convinced about what government will do. They complained of what they called excesses of local vigilantes popularly called Yan Sa Kai and how according to them they have been killing innocent Fulanis and warned that if Fulanis are not allowed to move freely without threat and molestation there won’t be end to banditry and kidnappings in the entire north. They took Sheikh Gumi to a settlement of about 1500 people and lamented how military bombardments destroyed the entire community, razed all the houses, killed and dumped bodies of the inhabitants in about three wells. The exclusive pictures and images of the those that were killed and dumped in the wells were taken by Desert Herald. They said the military are just targeting women, children and their animals during bombardments and that as a result of that many innocent lives were lost.
The bandits can be seen much more relaxed and very willing for engagement before the end of the preaching session. From interactions with them, it is understood that most of them are tired living in a jungle life, a life of exclusivity and lack of freedom. What most of them said they are missing much is the freedom to freely move around towns, market and to attend to their traditional and social events. One of them said on the condition of anonymity that he has spent three years in the bush without seeing his mother and that he is willing to go back to his family but is afraid due to uncertainty and how some of them were slaughtered by Yan Sa Kai and soldiers.
The most interesting and fulfilling part of Sheikh Gumi’s engagement and preaching session with the bandits is when the top commander, Dogo Gide promised Gumi that all those that were kidnapped either directly by his people or those he has influenced to talk to will soon be released. It is expected that the Kagara school boys, their teachers and other passengers that were abducted in the state owned passenger bus will be release any moment from now.
Exclusive pictures and videos of Thursday’s visit has been attached to this report. Sheikh Gumi and his entourage had arrived Minna from Dutsen Magaji forest, a journey of more than 7 hours around 3am on Friday.
The Governor of Bauchi State, Sen. Bala Mohammed, has said that his support for Fulani Herdsmen to carry AK-47 rifles is to enable them to defend themselves against bandits, kidnappers and assassins as security agencies cannot protect them.
He also explained that contrary to allegations that he urged Herdsmen to invade and occupy farmlands illegally, he only tried putting in perspective that Herdsmen are pastoralists whose presence anywhere is often temporal.
A statement by Mukhtar Gidado, Senior Special Assistant (Media ) to the Governor said that he, “is very familiar with the Land Use Act, including the criteria for land acquisition and cannot therefore seek to undermine the statute which, as Governor, he has sworn to uphold.”
Bala whose recent remarks at the closing ceremony of the Press Week of the Correspondent’s Chapel of the NUJ in Bauchi State triggered nationwide condemnation with many urging security agencies to investigate his role in the insecurity ravaging parts of the country; however said that he intervened “to avert the dangerous prospect of nation-wide backlash as tempers were flaring up and given that the phenomenon of inter-ethnic migration, is a national pastime involving all ethnic groups in Nigeria.”
The statement further reads “first, at no time did the Governor set out to justify criminality by anyone, no matter the person’s ethnic nationality. Rather, he admonished us, in the interest of national unity, to avoid wholesale branding of any ethnic group as it is inconceivable that any one group can be made up of only criminals.”
It added that “by extension, the Governor made it abundantly clear that it will be inappropriate to label any one tribe based on the crimes of a few members of the ethnic group.”
Also, the presser stated that “to the extent that not every herdsman is a criminal, the Governor’s reference to AK47 was simply to put in perspective, the predicament and desperation of those law-abiding Fulani herdsmen who, while carrying out their legitimate cow-rearing business, have become serial victims of cattle rustling, banditry, kidnapping and assassination.
These are the people who, in the absence of any protection from the security agencies, are forced to resort to self-help, to defend both their means of livelihood and their lives.”
On his claim that forests are no man’s land, in apparent reference to the eviction of herders from Forest Reserves in Ondo State, the former PDP National Chairman denied asking Fulanis to forcefully takeover lands belonging to others.
Self-acclaimed freedom fighter, Mr. Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, on Tuesday, accused the Federal Government of freezing his bank accounts, following his attack on the killer-herdsmen in Oyo State.
Igboho, who spoke to newsmen, confirmed that all his bank accounts have been frozen by the Federal Government because some people were collecting donations.
However, Igboho said he had no hands in the said donations, warning that his accounts must be unfrozen to avoid nationwide protest by youths across the South-West region.
His words: “They have frozen my bank accounts because I am fighting a just course. I know Yoruba people are behind me.
“I will not relent. I must achieve my aims by putting an end to criminalities in Yorubaland.
“If they refuse to release my accounts, there will be serious protests across the South-West.
“Yes, the Yoruba are living in fear. They are afraid that the killer-herdsmen might attack them.”
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has advised Fulani herdsmen to return to the northern region if their security could no more be guaranteed in their host communities.
The group also told northern governors to get themselves prepared to receive the Fulanis being ejected from southern states.
NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement yesterday, said the relocation advice became necessary following alleged attack on Fulani herders, families and communities in some states of the south.
The statement reads in part: “NEF is deeply worried by reports of ejections, under threats and attacks, of Fulani herders, families and communities in some states of the south.
The forum has been receiving these reports since the night of Sunday, January 31, and has taken the responsible step by drawing the attention of authorities to the dangers, which these attacks represent for all Nigerians.
“We have also advised law-abiding Fulani communities to seek protection where it is available, and have appealed to other Fulani to resist temptation to take the law into their own hands.
“It is necessary to warn people who threaten law-abiding Fulani communities in all parts of Nigeria, but particularly in some parts of the South, to desist.
Majority of Fulani are law-abiding and have rights to live lawfully wherever they can find means of subsistence.
“The Fulani will not be ejected from any Nigerian community only on the basis of being Fulani or herding cattle within the limits of laws and regulations.
States that seek to limit criminal activities are perfectly entitled to do so, but they must follow due process, and avoid exposing innocent citizens to danger at all cost.
The forum demands that the Nigeria Police must live up to its constitutional responsibility to detect crimes and arrest and prosecute criminals, whoever they are.”
■ However, the monarch said that it was wrong to label all Fulani criminals or use ‘Fulanis herdsmen criminal’ to explain developments.
The Sultan of Sokoto, HRH Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, has said seven to eight out of every ten kidnappers arrested in Nigeria are Fulani.
According to the Nation, Abubakar disclosed this on Friday in Abuja at a meeting of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association (MACBAN).
However, the monarch said that it was wrong to label all Fulani criminals or use ‘Fulanis herdsmen criminal’ to explain developments because of the misdeeds of some of them.
He said, “I am a Fulani, and I am not a bad man. I am also not a criminal. Those engaged in one forms of crimes or another are across the country. It is not proper to refer to any tribe to describe individuals’ crime.
“For example, when they collected N10m, where and how do you spend this amount in the bush? The money is back in the city. I have told the Inspector General of police to check this; we are not saying Fulanis are not part of the kidnappings as mentioned by the Secretary of Miyetti Allah, seven to eight kidnappers arrested are Fulanis, but that doesn’t mean ever Fulani is a criminal, no they are not.
“We must put hands together to bring an end to this problem. We are going to approach the President to talk to our West African neighbours where we have Fulanis like Senegal, Niger Republic Guinea and Mali, to help us because most of these bandit cross from neighbouring countries conducted their criminal act and run back.”
The meeting comes in the wake of tensions, especially across the South-West states which many have attributed to criminal Fulani herdsmen.
A Yoruba activist, Sunday Igboho, had given Fulanis in the Ibarapa axis of Oyo State an ultimatum to leave following allegations of criminality.
Videos shared on social media showed Igboho holding a well-attended rally where he swore to drive out Fulani herdsmen from the entire Yorubaland for causing insecurity and banditry.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State also issued a quit notice to all herdsmen to vacate government reserve forests in the state. (SaharaReporters)