Civil Rights activist and former Senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial district in the 8th National Assembly, Shehu Sani has called on the Fulani ethnic group to confront bad elements among them to preserve the respect and honour they usually have.
He gave the charge when the Coalition of Fulani Youth Association of Nigeria (CFYAN) paid a courtesy call to him in Abuja.
Sani stressed that the Fulani have been at the centre of crisis pervading the fabrics of the nation, lamenting that the ethnic nationalities have been labelled as criminals as a result of activities of few of them.
Sani’s charge was in reaction to the earlier grievances expressed by the Fulani Youth Coalition leader, Comrade Dauda Nyeman and other group officials who took turn to speak, saying, Fulani are the most persecuted ethnic tribe today in Nigeria.
The leader said the Coalition members from the entire country converged in Abuja and visited the ex-lawmaker having been counselling them for a long time, noting that the Fulani were in their most trying period at this time.
They frowned at the governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom’s claim that attack on him few weeks ago was carried out by Fulani herdsmen.
The group claimed that Security investigation into the case revealed otherwise, hence, they were shocked that the governor was yet to apologise to the Fulani uptil now.
“We deem it appropriate that it is time to talk and we found it necessary to pay homage to Senator Shehu Sani in Abuja, an activist who we always consult about our problems and things like that.
“There are a lot of issues we discussed and deliberated, part and parcel of issues, we discussed was that even some government officials would wake up one morning and declare that Fulani were behind certain crime without verifying who were actually behind it.
“Recently, governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State said, he has been attacked while on his farm and after the investigation by the Police and Security agents, it was discovered not to be Fulani herdsmen that attacked him.
“Uptill now, he has not come out to apologise to Fulani people, so out of our best possible, we discussed the issue and came out with resolution that we want the entire world, the country and security agents to look into because we can no longer tolerate the nonsense.
“All over the country, Fulani are the most peaceful; most trustworthy people.
“In fact they are the ones that want to stay in peace with any other tribe.
“But it is very unfortunate that Fulani people have been pushed to the wall in a such a way that they have no alternative than to react because when the limit has been exceeded, its going to reach a breaking point.
“It remains very small, very for Fulani people to reach a breaking point and when it reaches, it’s only God that knows what will happen,” they said
Speaking further, Sani insisted that the Fulani youths must pick up the challenge of tackling criminals in their own ethnic group.
He raised the alarm that some people have hijacked the crisis to pursue disintegration of the country along ethnic lines, while he called on government not to fold its hands.
“I have carefully listened to your presentations, grievances, your anger and your demands as far as young leaders of tomorrow from the Fulani ethnic nationality are concern.
“I think at this time in the history of our country, everyone deserves a listening ear with regards to how we can find a solution to the crisis, the conflict and the violence that engulfs our country today.
“Fulani people have a very long and proud history. I believe your history predates the history of Nigeria.
“When Fulani are mentioned, we are talking about a static ethnic nationality that can be located in most West African countries and even Central Africa.
“Those who are historically acquainted with the Fulani ethnic group have known you for what you are and what you represent.
“Today this is Nigeria of the 21st century and we are facing a crisis that is threatening our peace, and unity as a corporate entity and as a nation and I must be very frank to say that your ethnic nationality are at the centre of this crisis.
“It is a fact that crisis we are facing today has to do with violence whether it’s farmer/herdsmen conflict in North Central or the allegation of herdsmen killing people in South West and South Eastern part of Nigeria or the banditry that we are experiencing in the North Western part of Nigeria, there is an incontrovertible presence of Fulani in such conflicts.
“As young Fulani, you will be facing two types of battles which you have to fight them. You have to fight them for the survival of your people, for the survival of your culture, your tradition and family as far as the reality of the 21st century is concern.
“There is no doubt about it, that the violence being perpetrated in the North Western part of Nigeria by bandits are basically by Fulani ethnic group, but that is one.
“When we talk of herdsmen, there is hausa herdsmen, there is no Igbo herdsmen and there is no Yoruba herdsmen, but the tradition of rearing cattle, the profession is that of you. That is why they call you herdsmen.
“There are things that are wrongly ascribed to your own ethnic group and there are things that are squarely and rightly ascribed to your own ethnic group which I am also part of it.
“First of all, what is happening in North Western part of Nigeria, bandits kidnapping people, extorting ransom, displacing thousands of people from their villages, raping women, making life hellish for people are done by bandits that are basically Fulani.
“What is happening in Western part of Nigeria, what is alledged to have been done are done by herdsmen.
“Herdsmen are Fulani. But the problem we have is this. How do you ascribe criminality of a few to a whole ethnic group?
“Because Fulani as an ethnic group is wrong for people to see every Fulani as a criminal, every Fulani as a killer herdsman or a bandit.
“So you are fighting two battles, fighting your ethnic nationality who are engaged in criminality and also fight a society that is profiling your ethnic group trying to tag every Fulani man as a criminal because of activities of an insignificant few.
“If you put the population of Fulani in Nigeria, you talking of tens of millions and those committing this crime are less than 30 or 40 thousand.
“So how can a criminal minority become the identity of proud and peaceful majority?
“Nobody is going to fight this battle, but yourself. It is important for the world to know they are Fulani doctors; they Fulani lawyers, they are Fulani Professors and that Fulani are not simply herdsmen and bandits.
“You are the one to tell your story and speak out and stand for yourself. I am very sorry to say this, some of your leaders have so consumed in politics to an extent that they find it difficult to state the reality as it is.
“But don’t be coward to stand for the law abiding, peaceful and legitimate Fulani who are carrying about their lawful duties as Nigerians.
“It is not just peculiar to Nigeria, but in Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger, the conflict between herdsmen and farmers is becoming continental.
“The issues you have raised here are genuine. No Fulani man should be profiled because he is a Fulani man. No Fulani man should be criminalised unless he committed the crime. No Fulani man should be denied to live in any part of Nigeria as long as he is ready to live peacefully with anybody,” he stated.
The Senator condemned those issuing eviction notices to the Fulani, saying they have the constitutional right to live in any part of the country like other Nigerians.