Secretary of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association in Delta State, Muktar Ahmed, talks to MATTHEW OCHEI about the recent spate of kidnappings and killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen in the state
What do you think is responsible for the continued clashes between farmers/herders in the state?
Let me be sincere with you, the Fulani that we knew in those days for cattle rearing are not the same Fulani we know nowadays. I believe that Delta State, South-South states in general, and the communities have accommodated Fulani people by giving them shelter but at the end of the day, they have continued to disappoint the host communities by killing them.
I recall that one chief they killed in Kwale happened to be a man that had been providing Fulani people with shelter and water. At the end of the day, it was the same Fulani people that killed him even though he did nothing wrong.
The killings have nothing to do with Islam and Christianity. It is not a religious matter. We, the Arewa leaders in the state, condemn such attacks. We don’t have any other state, Delta is our state; most of us were born here. In my own case, even my father was born here. So, where am I going to?
Some people believe it is the Fulani people living with their hosts that bring their kinsmen from other places to carry out such attacks, how true is it?
I cannot say it is not true. The Fulani people here are the ones inviting their brothers to come here because they can be accommodated. We have told them (herders) to cooperate with us and the host communities to stop the attacks because with what is happening now, I tell you, there is a serious danger.
For example, in Delta State, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has been convening regular meetings with Fulani people and urging communities to accommodate them (Fulani people) to the extent that the communities have accused the governor of backing Fulani people. At the end of the day, the so-called Fulani disappointed Okowa by killing people in the host communities.
What makes so sure that the killings are not about Islam and Christianity as it appears there is a religious undertone to it?
It is not. Like me, I was born and bred here in Asaba, Delta State. My grandparents came here in 1880; that was when the first mosque was built here. So, if there was any war between Muslims and Christians, the community would not have allowed us to build our mosque. So, it is not a religious war. It is a selfish and political war.
There is no verse in the Holy Quran that says we should kill. People say it is in the Quran that when you kill, you go to heaven. It is a big lie; we don’t have such a verse in the Quran. When you kill, whether a Christian or a Muslim, you will go to hell. Nobody has the right to take another person’s life.
So, do you think the attacks have a political undertone?
Yes, very well. I’m sorry to sound that way but it is true. It is politically motivated. If not, why the killings? Who are they killing for? It is high time the Federal Government found a lasting solution to these clashes.
What is Miyetti Allah doing to end the clashes?
We are using mediation. We will continue to engage them to do the right thing but the challenge we have is that the villagers don’t tell us when these Fulani people come into their communities until they strike.
What do think the communities need to do to stop the killings?
If Fulani herdsmen enter a community, community leaders should alert us, so that we can talk to them and identify them in bid to maintain law and order in the host community.
As the Secretary of Miyetti Allah in the state, what is your group doing in this regard?
We have put structures in place in the various local government areas of the state to monitor the activities of Fulani herdsmen and report back to the police and the Department of State Services to make sure peace reigns. (PUNCH).