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Treat killer herders as terrorists – Sultan

Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III.

Herders moving with guns and causing violence are not Nigerians, Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, has said.

“These are foreigners coming into Nigeria to cause a breach of the peace ...They are terrorists and should be treated as such by Nigerian security agencies,” he said yesterday in his Eid el-Kabir message to Muslims.

The sultan stressed the need for security agencies to be always proactive. He described Nigerian herders as very peace-loving and law abiding, noting however that there were problems between Fulani herders and farmers which could be resolved through dialogue.

The sultan emphasised the importance of sustainable peace and unity among Nigerians ‘‘Our diversity should be our strength and God has not made a mistake by creating us with diverse differences,” he said. He called on Nigerians to be more productive towards enhancing their socioeconomic wellbeing, even as he urged leaders to continue to be just to all.

The sultan commended President Muhammadu Buhari administration for introducing the “Change Begins with Me” campaign. “The president deserves commendation for making this bold move christened, The Change begins with me,’’ he said.

He spoke in Sokoto when the state governor,. Aminu Tambuwal, paid him the traditional Sallah homage. “The campaign cannot come at a better time than now when Nigeria is in dire need of change. “Change is, however, very unpalatable and pretty difficult as such Nigerians should be cooperative and patient. “Destruction is always very easy, while reconstruction takes more time and patience is required.’’

He advised Nigerians to start the campaign by looking inwards and reappraising their behaviour and attitude wherever they may be. “We should start and contribute to the campaign by re-orientating ourselves and this should be done by Nigerians at all levels,’’ he said.

The sultan acknowledged ongoing efforts by the government to revamp education, agriculture, security and all facets of life. He commended the state government for setting up a special committee to restore the lost glory of education in the state.

“I have agreed to chair the committee out of my desire to see to the growth and development of the state and Nigeria, in general. “Education is the only key to Nigeria’s development and parents should allow their children to acquire both western and religious education,’’ Abubakar added.

Tambuwal had told the sultan that the visit was to appreciate his sustained royal prayers, advice and wise counsel. He commended the sultan for his relentless efforts towards lasting peace and unity in Nigeria and beyond. The governor promised to work to ensure the planned resettlement efforts of fulani herdsmen in Nigeria.

Tambuwal maintained that the planned establishment of grazing reserves by the Federal Government was the only panacea to the recurring clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers. The sultan recently advised Nigerians to desist from attaching religion and ethnicity to crimes saying it wasn’t fair that Fulani herdsmen were being accused of every violent attack in the country.

Speaking at a dinner organised for religious leaders, security agencies and journalists in his palace in Sokoto, he said every negative act was attributed to Fulani herdsmen, “even though there were other people committing heinous crimes elsewhere but not linked to religion, ethnicity and region. “If criminals are doing bad things, they are criminals and they can be found anywhere, in any religion and tribe. Therefore don’t add religious or tribal toga to any act of terrorism. “Fulani men are only after their cattle not after any government or its policies and programmes. How can they carry weapons; to go and do what with it?”

The Director of Centre for Democratic, Development and Training (CEDDERT), Dr. Abubakar Sadiq Mohammed also on Thursday said bandits from neighbouring countries were to blame for the incessant conflicts between farmers and herdsmen. Speaking during the maiden edition of CEDDERT seminar series with the theme, “Pastoralists and Farmers’ Conflict in Nigeria” he said the finding was based on a research in the three communities of Dansadau, Sabuwa and Birnin Gwari in Zamfara, Katsina and Kaduna States respectively

. “The conflict has five varying dimensions and levels of causes ranging from the phenomenon of cattle rustling by armed bandits who are usually non-residents; to incursions between farmers and herders into each other’s’ territories and resources.

“There is also an international dimensions to the conflict whereby through the bilateral and ECOWAS pastoral legislations, pastoralists from other countries easily access the country in order to cause mayhem,” he said. Dr. Mohammed said decisions by state governments to convert parts or whole forest reserves into private farms or settlements also added to the conflict.

Source: Rakiya A. Muhammad, Sokoto - Daily Trust