IPOB, Middle Belt Forum, Ijaw National Congress, others kick against 1,144-man militia

We’ll soon have warlords everywhere like Somalia –MBF, INC

We won’t allow them in S’East – Igbo groups

Fulani vigilantes can curtail bandits’ activities–NEF, ACF

 

By Vincent Kalu (Lagos), Stanly Uzoaru (Owerri) and Noah Ebije, (Kaduna)

The recent launch of a 1,144-man nomadic vigilance group by Fulani socio-cultural association, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, is generating negative reactions from the southern and middle belt parts of the country, indicating the likelihood of violent resistance of the group by other regional groups in the country.

Miyetti Allah had on Thursday launched the vigilance group, which it says will assist in combating the escalating security challenges in Nasarawa State. The group’s President, Abdullahi Bello Bodejo unveiled the outfit in Lafia, the state capital, with plans to spread the group across the country.  But some ethnic nationalities and other socio-cultural groups in southern Nigeria have expressed concerns over the rise of what they believe to be an ethnic army that may compound the existing security challenges in the country.

While reacting to the development, the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) and the Ijaw National Congress (INC) called on other ethnic nationalities and interest groups to set up their own security outfits as a counter force to what the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore could be planning for the future.

President of the MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, said, it is interesting that the true colour of the Fulani group was coming out, as they are often accused of attacking innocent Nigerians. “So, to come out in the open with this outfit with the government not doing anything, is a licence for us to form our own groups so that we can respond accordingly. “The implication of this is that we are turning into Somalia, as we are going to have warlords all over the country since the security agencies could not do their job the way they should.”

In the same vein, President of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Prof Benjamin Okaba, said that the action of Miyetti Allah draws attention to the severe insecurity in the country, where every individual feels threatened and has to adopt a strategy for safeguarding him or herself.

“It is a wake-up call to all ethnic nationalities in Nigeria to do the same; governments and other ethnic nationalities that have suffered the pains of atrocious movement of these people should be careful because this might be a pointer to some other actions they might want to take in the future.”

Meanwhile, The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has said it would vehemently resist the Miyetti Allah Vigilante in the Southeast.

Spokesperson of the group, Emma Powerful in a statement he released to newsmen on Friday said IPOB has some doubts about the formation of the Fulani vigilante outfit. Powerful alleged that the formation of the vigilante group is a ploy by the group to spread their tentacles across the country.

“IPOB is not against anyone, group, or ethnic groups for setting up vigilante groups to defend themselves since Nigeria’s security architecture has been heavily compromised and failed and infiltrated by terrorists and sponsors. However, we are concerned about the code name and the stated mission behind the formation of the group.”

Similarly, the Igbo National Council (INC) strongly kicked against the idea of Miyetti Allah spreading its vigilante outfit across the country. The group urged President Bola Tinubu to ban the vigilante outfit.

President of INC, Chilos Godsent in a statement described the group as one that has dangerous implications on national security.

He said “The Igbo National Council INC Worldwide is fully aware of the covert and overt programme of the Fulani ethnic group to conquer more territories in Nigeria by violently attacking and displacing indigenous people from their communities through banditry and terrorist operations.

Another group, Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL) has dared the Miyetti Allah Vigilante to come to the South-East. A statement by the President General of the group, Goodluck Ibem sternly warned the Fulani vigilante outfit to remain in the North and not to step their feet in the South.

The group which has described the continued recognition of the Miyetti Allah by the Federal Government as an aberration, urged the President to rise up to the occasion and put an end to what it described as the atrocities of the group.  But in their reactions to the concerns expressed by Southern and Middle Belt groups, both the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) said the Meyetti Allah vigilantes scheme has the potential to curtail activities of bandits and other criminal elements and enhance security across the country.

According to NEF spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, the launch of a vigilance scheme by Miyetti Allah Kauta Hore for Fulani people presents both opportunities and challenges. He said, “While it has the potential to enhance security and curtail the activities of bandits and other criminal elements, there is a need for careful implementation and oversight to prevent any unintended negative consequences.

“By striking a balance between empowering the Fulani people and ensuring the protection of human rights, this scheme can contribute to a safer and more inclusive Nigeria. We all know that Nigeria and the North in particular, have witnessed a surge in criminal activities perpetrated by bandits and insurgents, leading to loss of lives and property.

“It is in response to this alarming situation that the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, a prominent Fulani socio-cultural group, has launched a vigilance scheme aimed at curbing these activities. However, it is also important to critically examine the potential consequences of such a scheme.”

For the Spokesman of ACF, Professor Tukur Muhammad-Baba, “Ours is to hope it will help. I don’t see why not. The animal herders are themselves the first victims of the bandits. They subject their cattle to theft, their women abducted and we hear that the bandits force them to contribute to their (bandits’) fighting forces or else.

“The cattle breeders also have unparalleled knowledge of the bush, where the bandits also hide, so they should be able to fish them out and deal with them. However, they should work in tandem with the security forces who should monitor them.