Prominent Civil Rights group:- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has condemned President Muhammadu Buhari’s unusual enthusiasm to speak for Fulani herdsmen by his open support for the widely rejected open grazing of cattle’s.
The Civil Rights group also asked President Muhammadu Buhari to speak less because his public speeches of late rather than give hope and abiding faith in the Unity of Nigeria, the speeches have evoked old faultlines threatening to tear Nigeria apart just as his speeches have increasingly become more negative, bellicose, divisive and totally out of touch with the realities on ground even as the Rights group carpeted President Buhari for displaying crass disrespect for sacredness of life by speaking more in defence of deadly activities of Fulani herdsmen.
HURIWA condemns what it calls intentional show of wicked ignorance by President Muhammadu Buhari who during his interview with Arise Television clearly showed his poor appreciation of the problems of insecurity in the South East of Nigeria by comparing INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF BIAFRA (IPOB) as another word for the Ethnic nationality in Nigeria known collectively as NDIGBO.
According to the president in his interview, he said erroneously that people from the South East have too much investment in Nigeria. He also threatened to send the Military and Police after them.
President Muhammadu Buhari who mixed up IPOB with NDIGBO ETHNICITY said: “That IPOB is just like a dot in a circle. Even if they want to exit, they will have no access to anywhere. “And the way they are spread all over the country, having businesses and property, I don’t think IPOB knows what they are talking about. “In any case, we say we’ll talk to them in the language that they understand. We’ll organise the police and the military to pursue them”.
HURIWA said it is unacceptable that a Country like Nigeria with millions of intellectuals of global reputation to be governed by a President like Muhammadu Buhari who clearly does not know that Igbo Ethnic bloc is distinctive and separate from the self determination group known as the Indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB) just as the Rights group said this ignorance or willful forgetfulness on the part of President on the fundamental conceptual Chasm and distinction between a group of youthful agitators with the entire IGBO RACE. This forgetfulness and willful ignorance is unpardonable and dangerous.
Condemning President Muhammadu Buhari’s Public support for open grazing of cows amidst widespread rejection by Nigerians, HURIWA said: “It is insensitive on the part of President Muhammadu Buhari to vehemently canvass open grazing of cattle by Fulani herdsmen which has become the most disturbing cause of bloody conflicts across Nigeria leading to the destruction of lives and property of hundreds of thousands of citizens who are mostly rural farmers. The President rather than take steps to order the arrest, swift prosecution and sanction of these armed Fulani herdsmen with blood of innocent citizens on their hands and who have unleashed massive scale of violence, President Buhari has continued to stoke the embers of divisiveness by seeking to railroad the office of the Attorney General of the Federation to take lands from states to be made open grazing routes for private owners of cattle. This same President did not for once observed a minute silence to honour the memories of the over ten thousand Nigerians citizens slaughtered by Fulani herdsmen but is more concerned about seizing lands to donate for open grazing.”
“This President speaks like someone who has an agenda for Fulani to pursue even at the cost of stoking up civil war. This tendency to grab lands across the Country for open grazing even when under the land use Act the governors who have control over lands have rejected open grazing is definitely going to lead to more and more violence and killings even as no effort is made to disarm the armed herders”.
HURIWA recalled that the President, Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has given approval to the return of the open grazing practised during the 1st Republic where herdsmen used designated grazing routes to move their cattle to several parts of the country.
To this end, the President said he had asked the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to begin the process of recovering land from persons who have converted cattle grazing routes for their personal use.
Buhari said this during an interview with Arise Television which was aired on Thursday.
The President said the grazing routes were designated in the 1st Republic when “Nigerians use to obey laws” but those routes had been converted.
Buhari was reacting to a question on the decision by 17 southern governors to ban open grazing.
The AGF had kicked against the declaration by the governors, adding that it was like northern governors banning spare part trading, a job that is synonymous with southerners.
When asked if he agreed with the AGF’s position, Buhari laughingly responded, “You want me to contradict my attorney-general?”
Explaining further, he said, “What I did was ask him to go and dig the gazette of the 1st Republic when people were obeying laws. There were cattle routes and grazing areas. Cattle routes were for when they (herdsmen) are moving up country, north to south or east to west, they had to go through there.
“If you allow your cattle to stray into any farm, you are arrested. The farmer is invited to submit his claims. The khadi or the judge will say pay this amount and if you can’t the cattle is sold. And if there is any benefit, you are given and people were behaving themselves and in the grazing areas, they built dams, put windmills in some places there were even veterinary departments so that the herders are limited. Their route is known, their grazing area is known.”
The prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) stated that President Muhammadu Buhari has managed to pour fuel into a fire that is threatening to become a big wild fire by unilaterally supporting his tribesmen to be assisted by the machinery of the Federal government to illegally snatch lands from the natives under the guise of recovering the so called grazing routes to be re allocated to private owners of cows who are Fulani to dominate the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
HURIWA also carpeted President Buhari for shifting the blame of the many bloodshed of the armed herders to foreign Fulamis when he said thus: “I cannot say I am not one of them but he (Governor Ortom of Benue) is being very unfair to me and I told him that the Nigerian cattle rearer was not carrying anything more than a stick sometime with a machete to cut some trees and feed his cattle but those sophisticated ones move with AK 47.So, from other areas, people rush to Nigeria you know and Fulanis from Mauritania and Central Africa look the same so they feel they are the Nigerian ones and I assure you that we are trying to resuscitate these cattle routes, grazing areas and make them accountable.”
HURIWA condemned President Muhammadu Buhari’s penchant for defending the armed Fulani killers using sophistry and illogicality just as the Rights group said it is the primary constitutional duty of President Muhammadu Buhari to defend the lives and property of the citizens and wonders why he allowed foreign mercenaries to invade Nigeria and kill off Nigerian farmers and not one of these killers is being prosecuted but rather the President is here rendering empty rhetoric in defence of the mass murderers.
HURIWA which cited PART I, the General principle of the Land Use Act of 1978 which has Vested all land in the State to governors thus: “Subject to the provisions of this Act, all land comprised in the territory of each State in the Federation is hereby vested in the Governor of that State, and such land shall be held in trust and administered for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians in accordance with the provisions of this Act.”
The Rights group said the President with his support for open grazing has reignited a conflict that may consume Nigeria if not checked.