If not Fulani herdsmen, then who?

One of my greatest gifts is a strong imagination, capable of conjuring scenes and breathing life into book characters. This mystic gift, I have always been proud of. But recently, it may have become my undoing. Thanks to this imaginative mind of mine, I have been robbed of decent sleep and banished to the dry valleys of chronic insomnia for approximately three weeks… This, I suffer for the love of human kind and an empathy that is inexplicable.

The gory images that became flesh in my mind’s eye as I read the statement released by the leadership of the Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan in Kaduna State, just before we crossed over to 2017, still, like wraiths, appear in my sleep with loud shrieks.   “The herdsmen and their ilk turned the towns into killing fields and killed mostly women, children and the elderly who couldn’t run for cover. The level of barbarity was such that pregnant women got their wombs blown out and massacred before their children. These innocent children were not spared either.”

Not every man can be in the same room as his wife while she brings forth another human being and that is ultimately a thing of joy. But pause for a second, and imagine being witness to the ripping out of a child from a woman in the most barbaric way with crude instruments…you will lose sleep as I have!

But what kind of people would be capable of such dastardly acts? What kind of fiend would possess a man and kill his conscience this way? Over time, there has been a theory that attempts to answer the above questions and a certain group of people have been accused of committing the depraved attacks and killings in Southern Kaduna. Even the statement I earlier referred to, without contradicting the belief of the nation, pointed fingers at the same group of people – the Fulani herdsmen.  Au contraire, fellow countrymen, someone disagrees. On  January 5, 2017, I watched a ‘sizzling hot’ interview on Channels Television. Isuwa Dogo, the former chairman of Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, was literally on fire as he spoke with admirable passion on the killings in Souther Kaduna.

The power of his voice caught my attention but his words, aroused my curiosity. I got up and between fumbling around the room for a paper pad and a pen, managed to increase the volume of my television set. In the following 20 minutes, I was enthralled. I scribbled and listened with rapt attention. “Those killing us are not Fulani herdsmen; the Fulani herdsmen are being used and I know that time will prove me right. The Fulani herdsmen are being used as a cover for a planned annihilation and complete destruction. Let’s say, to wipe out the Southern Kaduna people.”

Strong, brave, fearless… came those words from Dogo’s mouth. A baffled presenter, who did a terrible job hiding his astonishment, tried in futility to soften Dogo’s choice of words. He pointed out the harshness of his words, referring to them as ‘very strong’ but No. Dogo wouldn’t be cajoled or coerced into saying something else. His response was epic: “Yes I am (using very strong words) and I can stand on top of Mount Kilmanjaro or Everest to say this. I can give you the evidence by simple logic.”

Here goes Dogo’s logical evidence: “A Fulani man does not sell his cow except for medication and food. An AK-47 costs almost N700,000, so that means a Fulani herdsman will sell four to eight cows to be able to buy one AK-47. Which Fulani herdsman will do that?  If they truly are Fulani herdsmen, where are their wives and children? Do they take them around and then camp to launch their attacks? If they are Fulani herdsmen, where were the cattle when they went to Enugu and other places, did you see them? Do cattle have feathers, can they fly?”

Dogo raised some thought-provoking questions while insisting that the Fulani herdsmen were being used. He described the average Fulani man as simple and honest, and stated that one must be trained to use an AK-47. I bet you will agree with that. So, where do they train and where do they get the ammunition, Dogo demanded? If indeed the Fulani herdsmen are being used as a cover, then there may be a theory of conspiracy to wipe out the Southern Kaduna people. But by whom?

The answer may now elude us but momentarily, they will be written on tabloids. While Dogo may have left the perpetrators to the wrath of providence, saying: “These people know themselves but as time goes on, God is going to reveal them and take action against them,” another group is digging into the attacks and killings in Southern Kaduna.  Based on a petition the United Nations received from SERAP on December 30, 2016, the same day the saddening statement I earlier referred to was released, the United Nations has begun an investigation into the attacks and killings in southern Kaduna.

The group has mandated the UN to carry out an effective investigation into the circumstances surrounding the killings, to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice as well as to provide reparations to victims. One can only hope that the UN is capable of achieving all of these tasks. Most importantly, identifying the perpetrators and maybe getting us out of this dilemma as we obviously cannot help ourselves. Or can we?