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Who are the Fulani Bandits?

Recently the Secretary of Miyetti Kautal Hore, Mr. Al-Hassan Kuba, rained insults on Governor Masari of Katsina State, saying no one should take the governor serious because the governor is a drunkard, why? Governor Masari in an interview admitted that the bandits are Fulanis.

By George Onmonya Daniel

President Muhammadu Buhari who should know better being the president of Nigeria denied that the mass murderers killing people in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria were Fulani herdsmen. “The herdsmen do not carry guns but sticks used to make their ways through the bush,” President Buhari told former US President Donald Trump in Washington DC on his visit to see POTUS on 30th April, 2018.

Prior to that visit to the United States on 12th April, 2018, President Buhari and his presidency had announced and publicly blamed former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who was killed seven years before then for the ongoing killings across central Nigeria.

The killings have long been linked to herdsmen, and some herders of the Fulani ethnic stock have claimed responsibility for some attacks, but the president said Mr Gaddafi, a dictator swept away by an uprising in 2011, was to blame for the alarming dimension the attacks have taken in recent years.

Mr Gaddafi was killed in October 2011 following weeks of violent uprising across Libya, ending his 42-year reign. He was 69.

President Buhari would later blame ISIS West Africa for the killings in the Middle Belt.

Every Nigerian knows the killers were Fulani herdsmen. Miyetti Allah kautal Hore had severally claimed responsibilities for some these mass killings yet the Buhari administration have not arrested any member of the organisation. In fact Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State admittedly said the bandits are Fulani herdsmen.

In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC Hausa) recently, Governor Nasir El-Rufai admitted that the bandits are Fulani herdsmen. Governor El-Rufai asked that the government declare war on them. “A Fulani herder who makes one hundred to two hundred thousand a year will never go back to herding after making millions through kidnapping,” Nasir El-Rufai declared.

Who are the Fulani bandits? How did it all start?

The Fulani bandits are some of the Fulani herdsmen who picked up arms and started robbing the locals and were engaging in cattle rustling since about a decade ago. Their activities mostly went unnoticed by Boko Haram menace. These are Nigerian Fulani herdsmen and their tribesmen in neighbouring countries that they hire from time to time to come over to Nigeria and attack farmers in the Middle Belt.

The activities of the Fulani bandits increased with the fall of Mamman Ghadafi in Libya and the Tuareg rebellion which led to the civil war in Mali. The Tuareg rebellion thats started in January of 2012 in Mali started after Ghadafi was killed in October, 2011. With arms and ammunitions they stormed Northern Mali and declared Independence state of Azawad Republic.

The African Center for Strategic Studies would describe this time as “Daily life in the Sahel has been punctuated by a rapid rise in violent attacks from militant Islamist groups in recent years. Thousands have been killed and millions displaced since a separatist-turned-militant Islamist conflict erupted in 2012. The disproportionate presence of Fulani among the militant Islamist groups that are responsible for this violence in northern Burkina Faso, western Niger, and northern and central Mali has shattered intercommunal trust and the social harmony for which the region was previously known. This is so despite only a small minority of Fulani having taken up arms and members of other identity groups being present within the extremists’ ranks.

“The spread of insecurity in the Sahel has led some observers to simplify the current situation as a “Fulani jihad” or a “Fulani rebellion.” They point to insurgent groups such as Front de Libération du Macina (FLM) led by Fulani preacher Amadou Koufa in central Mali, Ansaroul Islam founded by Fulani Ibrahim Malam Dicko, the Fulani Tolebe fighters from Niger who fought with the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and who are now mixed within the ranks of the Islamic State of the Greater Sahara, and even Ansar Dine and other affiliates of Jama’at Nusrat al Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) that contain groups of Fulani fighters.

“Fulani stigmatization, in turn, has precipitated the targeting of Fulani communities by neighboring community militias such as the Dozo in central Mali and the Koglweogo in Burkina Faso. These militias have mounted attacks killing hundreds of Fulani civilians that have spurred further recruitment for militant Islamist groups, propelling a deadly revenge-reprisal cycle.

“Fulani leaders, thus, are faced with the dual challenge of defusing the group-wide stigmatization while stemming further recruitment from militant groups.”

When this drama was going on in Mali coupled instability in Burkina Faso, Niger and around, arms and ammunitions were everywhere. As the Tuareg were later subdued by French involvement in Mali and with mild stability in countries around these conflict zones, most of these arms flooded into Nigeria through Fulani herdsmen.

The Fulanis in Nigeria have the culture of inviting their cousins from other countries to fight their wars in Nigerian soil. It is not hidden, it is what they and their supporters in Nigeria brag about. What the police and other security agencies would tell you.

With this stigmatization and threats the one home where the Fulanis are welcomed is Nigeria. Talking on Channels Television, Governor Bala Mohammad of Bauchi State said all Fulanis from across Africa can make Nigeria a home when asked if RUGA was meant for indigenous Fulanis in Nigeria alone.

As these herdsmen settled in Zamfara, armed the teeth, without herds, they engaged in armed robbery, cattle rustling and sacking of villages just because of the lawlessness of the Nigerian state.

Why The Menace Continued in Nigeria

Even during the era of Goodluck Jonathan the Fulani onslaughts rages in Zamfara and Southern Kaduna, largely ignored by the Nigerian state because President Goodluck Jonathan’s only interest was to win election in 2015.

As President Buhari became President in 2015 the Fulani herdsmen menace quickly increased. With support from Northern political elites, media, religious leaders and young and old on social media, that gave their atrocities a shield, they went on rampage.

When the Nigerian government was supposed to stop the mass killing of villagers the Buhari’s administration was busy calling it a communal clash. The government was unwilling to admit what was going on. In fact the government kept defending them as victims too.

In recent weeks the government have launched at attack on the Fulani herdsmen they prefer to call bandits after they keep embarrassing the Buhari administration with kidnap of school students for ransome, getting attention the world and completely putting the administration to shame over accusation of pampering from all over the country after several state governments in the North reached out to give them amnesty to stop the menace but they blantantly refused.

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