Saturday, 20 January 2018
Herdsmen killings: Former ambassador, Prof. Hagher makes shocking revelations
fighters were coming from the Nigerian armoury.
In a interview with Daily Sun, the former envoy also said that having studied the situation so far, he was alarmed to discover that President Muhammadu Buhari was one of the grand patrons of the herdsmen.
His words, “I am a scholar, a professor of development theatre, in my intellectual career it is my responsibility to study communities and phenomena and I have over the years made it a point of duty to deal with issues like crises within the communities and I have been involved in observing the phenomena of ethnic crisis, communal crisis, farmers’ crisis, within the middle belt which has been subsisting for decades now.
“I have been a peacemaker, a peace builder, I am a total pacifist; I hate violence in any form including verbal violence. So, in observing the trend of the crisis between herdsmen and farmers within the middle-belt area from 2013; I was alarmed when I noticed that in 2015 there was a sudden jump in escalation of the incident that increased since President Buhari took over in 2015, I noticed that this escalation was based on a systematic process where it was not just all Fulani herdsmen and the farmers.
“There was now a new dimension to the crisis, the new entry was commando-style execution, gruesome murders of the farmers, the barbarity which showed that there was a disturbing trend towards the genocide that was now the possibility and the reality.
“As there was increased violence because much more than the usual struggle of the incident of cows being killed and therefore the grazers come in respect of the killing of their cows or that a cattle has been rustled and then they come pursuing revenge over the loss of cattle.
“There was an upsurge in attacks in which the target communities in Southern Adamawa, Benue, Kogi, Nasarawa , Plateau, Southern Kaduna and Taraba states was where I found the phenomena that was really disturbing.
“The equally disturbing scenario was that in most of the places where these attacks were being unleashed, it seemed to me that they were mainly where Christians settled and when I looked at the fact that when President Buhari took over he had a very efficient approach towards the Boko Haram.
“So, I began to study the possibility of the Boko Haram having diffused itself to become a Plan ‘B’ because the herdsmen terrorism was no longer the usual clashes, this was terrorism at monumental scale, this was terrorism; that was a world class definition of terrorism.
“The herdsmen became the force classified as the 4th most deadly terrorist group on earth. I was alarmed that it was not just this area but it was a proliferation, country wide where herdsmen were conflicted and I became equally disturbed to learn that the organization had the sultanate and the emirate of Northern Nigeria which were Fulani in origin and also the President of Nigeria was even considered as a patron of the Miyetti Allah and I said wow!
“This is a pretty heavy stuff and I began to analyze the conversations that were going on that time and I became alarmed and disturbed because they were too few structures on ground to prevent the genocide, structures like an effective legislature, an independent judiciary, an effective national human rights institution or independent media or a neutral security force because the more I studied about the phenomena, the more I discovered that the police and the army that were supposed to be neutral security forces were recording incidents in which the arms used by the insurgents were coming from the Nigerian armoury and the corruption that began to be unveiled of politicians and the easy supply of arms across the country, with arms market all over; if you go to Niger, you buy an AK47, it is completely on display, if you go to certain parts of this country you will see arms being freely sold.
“I studied the motivation of the leading actors and there was considerable motivation because the issue of land in the middle-belt and the fertile land that is irrigated by the River Niger and the River Benue.
“The desertification has taken place in the north and global climate has affected this area and no less than 20,000 cattle looking for water sources especially in the dry season, looking for grass and then I looked at the phenomena of displaced people of Nigerian stock in Darfur, in Libya who are pushed to come back; who are herds people and if they came back, what would be means of their livelihood, these people are fighters for decades, they have been fighting in those environments and as they fight in those environments, the psychology of instability is already imbedded in them, they are insurgents and wherever they go, insurgent mentality prevails in their mind.
“They want to come back to Nigeria, they reach out to some Nigerian leaders, Nigerians lived for years in Darfur and now Northern Sudan doesn’t want us; they are making slaves of us, where do we go?
“The only place we can settle is in the Benue valley, people who are there are not even Muslims, so it makes it easy, considerable motivation for ethnic cleansing and the borders are porous. So, when I started putting all the pieces together, I saw that it was possible for genocide of unprecedented magnitude to creep in on us in a manner in which we are unprepared.
“We underestimated the Boko Haram and it grew up like a phantom into a reality, which we were not able to control till this moment effectively.”