Here’s why Fulani herdsmen may be the next Boko Haram
Okozie Okerefor, a Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in the Vunokilang Police Station in Girei Local Government Area (LGA) of Adamawa State, had only spent two months at his new duty post when he was ambushed and killed by those believed to be Fulani herdsmen. Okerefor was reportedly on his way to the scene of a dispute between some Fulani herdsmen and farmers in the area when he and 29 others were killed on Sunday, January 24.
Although President Muhammadu Buhari has said that a plan to map out grazing areas is under way to end the recurring conflict between farmers and herdsmen, there is clearly a larger issue at play, which Buhari has also acknowledged. Speaking to a delegation from the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, President Buhari noted that ethnic conflict and religious conflict stem from poverty and injustice, Premium Times reports. Notably, Buhari has said the same in the context of the Boko Haram insurgency. While for decades, Fulani herdsmen have been perceived as a harmless annoyance, the recent escalation of violence over the past year requires much more than merely mapping out grazing areas.
Other incidents in the past six months
On January 5th, the people of Ubulu-Uku kingdom in Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta state received the news of the abduction of their king with shock. His Royal Majesty, Akaeze Ofulue III was on his way to church and on his way, along the Obior/Igbodo road, he was ambushed and subsequently kidnapped by Fulani herdsmen. According to the Vanguard, Fulani herdsmen also abducted two catholic priests on that same road.
Three days after the king’s abduction, the kidnappers demanded a N100 million ransom, but later agreed to accept N30 million after much negotiation. News report claimed that the kidnappers were afraid that the community would involve the police despite warnings, so they killed the king and fled.
In the case of Chief Olu Falae, an elder statesman in Ondo state, he was kidnapped in September 2015 on the way to his farm by six Fulani herdsmen. He was consistently threatened with death until his family paid a ransom of N5 million.
These Fulani herdsmen may not posses arms or be as infamous as Boko Haram. However, the gruesome nature of these acts show that the government can no longer treat them as a docile or as a non-existent threat. Rather, Buhari needs to take proactive measures to rein the increasing frequency of kidnapping and extortion.
This is a signal for the Nigerian police, army and all other institutions in charge of security to beef up security and employ tact in order to curb terrorism of any kind in Nigeria.
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