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In the political annals of Nigeria, this is only the first time that Nigerians in their large numbers are slaughtered by well-armed militia who share ethno religions affiliations with the holder of the office of the president of the federal republic of Nigeria.

The Fulani speaking nationality has become notorious for the reason that some of its rogue members have armed themselves with sophisticated weapons similar to the type used by any military of a modern day nation and these militia are on the rampage all across Nigeria in what is regarded as a quest to dispossess farmers of their farms so as to fend for the growing numbers of their cattles.

 For these emerging killer gangsters who seems to be enjoying Federal government tacit approval, grazing of their cows are much more elevated in the hierarchy of scales than respecting the sanctity of human life. 

What makes the scenario remarkably historical is that both President Muhammadu Buhari and his vice Professor Yemi Osibanjo are busy rationalizing these cocktails of mass murders either expressly or  through their political surrogates even as the killings are becoming unabated. 

The lackadaisical tendencies of the heads of all the security institutions who do nect to nothing whilst these killings go on is making people to believe that these killings are officially licenced. The unfortunate thing again is that the killings which go on without concrete mechanisms to stop tge trends and bring decisive justice to the perpetrators has exposed a serious lacuna in the  which should be corrected. The overwhelming powers of command and control ceded to the holder of office of President over the Armed forces should be shared amongst the Federal legislative body and the head of the Executive so that if as it were, if convincing evidence aboundto show a lack of willingness on the part of the Presidency to authorise immediate and effective crackdown of such insurrection and mass killings as are committed by armed Fulani herdsmen, the Senate can convoke and direct the Armed forces to play their constitutional role.  

Even as we debate the zero response level of the current administration to these mass killings, it must be borne in mind that the theatres of these grand mass killings orchestrated by Fulani herdsmen have now shifted to Southern Kaduna State, Benue State and Adamawa State. 

There are reports of revenge killings of Fulanis in a part of Taraba State by another counter force.

These killings therefore calls for a sober reflection with the aim of proffering lasting panacea to end these episodes of blood cuddling violence of epic proportions which on the last count has resulted in the untimely and gruesome hacking to death of over 10,000 innocent Nigerians by armed Fulani herdsmen.

What makes it more compelling that Nigerians must rise up and collectively demand an end to these killings, is the fact that officials of government are busy providing some irrational excuses for these bands of mass murderers who are apparently being treated as persons who are above the laws of the land.

The constitution is the sum total of the laws of the land and in a very unambiguous provision in section 32 (1) states that all lives are sacred and sacrosanct and must not be taken extra-legally.

Legally speaking the offence of murder is a very serious crime.

In a technical sense, murder is also called culpable homicide.

The Black’s Law Dictionary defines homicide as the killing of one person by another and criminal homicide as the act of purposely, knowingly, recklessly or negligently causing the death of another human being.

Coke C.J equally defined homicide as: "When a man of sound memory and age of discretion, unlawfully killeth within any country of the realm any reasonable creature in rerun naturaunder the king’s peace, with malice aforethought, either expressed by the party or implied by law, so as the party wounded or hurt, etc. die of the wound or hurt, etc. within a year and a day after the same."

Legal scholars therefore say that homicide is the legal term of killing a man or human being whether lawfully or unlawfully.

In the Law repository of Nigeria, tge law blogger affirmed that it is with the development of mens rea doctrine that there came into existence the distinction between lawful and unlawful homicide as well as different degrees of liability for unlawful homicide. 

The blogger recall that what qualifies as a human being capable of being killed is provided for by section 307 of the Criminal Code as follows: A child becomes a person capable of being killed when it has completely proceeded in a living state from the body of its mother, whether it has breathed or not and whether it has an independent circulation or not, and whether the navel-string is severed or not"

A central statutory law in Nigeria called the Criminal Code provides that any person who causes the death of another, directly or indirectly, by any means whatever, is deemed to have killed that person, except in the cases explicitly provided. 

A case in point is encapsulated in the English case of R. v. Dyson, the accused who inflicted injuries upon the deceased more than a year and a day before the date of death, as well as further injuries within that period that accelerated the death, was charged and convicted of manslaughter, but had his conviction quashed on appeal for misdirection, because the trial judge directed the jury that they might find the accused guilty even if they thought that death resulted solely from the earlier injuries.

So why and how come the current administration seems to be handling the ongoing bloody violence by armed Fulani herdsmen with kid gloves even when the President swore to an oath to protect the constitution?

Shehu Sani, a former activist and current senator representing Kaduna central seems to have attempted the resolution of the aforementioned conundrum. 

In his book appropriately titled “The killing fields: Religious Violence in Northern Nigeria”, he wrote as follows: “Nigeria is a country with appropriate credentials for dysfunctional conflicts."

He argued also that Nigeria has since the end of the civil war continued to have a recurrence of violent ethnic and religious conflicts that have scarred the nation’s socio-political landscape. 

Shehu Sani affirmed that many of the conflicts in Nigeria are long-standing feuds that have been surfacing from time to time and never fully resolved. 

Again, Senator Sani has located many of these conflicts as wholly brouggt about by  the structured problems of the country. 

Importantly, he blamed militarization of the political space for the blood cuddling violence.

The Nigerian society, he said,  has been deeply traumatized by successive military dictatorships and it will take many years of consistent work to rebuild trust, faith and integrity. 

Lastly, he submitted that the culture of violence, reprisals and revenge is deeply embedded in the psyche of the society and that there is so much “unfinished” business at the level of social equity and broad human rights issues that must be addressed. 

If the book was written recently since the advent of the incessant armed Fulani attacks, I'm sure the author Shehu Sani would have included the fact that armed Fulani herdsmen are today rated global as some of the most dangerous terror networks next after Boko Haram terrorists. He also missed out the aspect of the loud conspiracy of silence from the highest political class over the killings. Although in a recent FaceBook post, Senator Sani accused President Muhammadu Buhari of pampering and protecting the FULANI TERRORISTS unleashing violence all across Nigeria. 

Then again, why does Nigeria persistently witness the occurrence of armed Fulani killings and the Federal Government under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari seems cool with the entire episodes?

Has this anything to do with a weak legal framework, weakened security institutions or is it just the deliberate undermining of extant laws on murder by the Federal Government officials manning internal security most of whom are also Fulani by ethnic origin?

I believe that although our institutions especially the security institutions are so weak basically because the law concedes the command and control structure to the authority of one person, but there are abundance of statutory provisions which if activated and the mass killers are appropriately punished in accordance with law, the situation will radically improve. 

It is therefore the case of deliberate undermining of extant laws.

I say this because there is no other way to describe the attitudes of all the heads of the security forces who have consistently gone to sleep whilst well-armed Fulani herdsmen terrorize different communities and continue inflicting pains, deaths and bloodshed on a scale unimaginable even in the wildest horror movies in the Hollywood.

The conspiracy of silence and the apparent lack of political will to sanction legally the mass murderers has definitely presented Nigeria to look like the Hobbesian society whereby life is short, brutish, miserable and might by all means has become right. Thomas Hobbes may have written about present day Nigeria in his political treatise titled the State of Nature.

Also a notable theologian in the person of Reverend Father Luke Nnamdi Mbeto in his book “The Reshaping of African Traditions” reminded us that Western scholars have often viewed Nigeria and Africa as a dark continent inhabited by savages who have no respect for the sanctity of life.

The criminal acts of mass murders by armed Fulani herdsmen and the clear permisiveness of these orgies of bloody violence by the Politicians show us as persons inhabiting a very dark zoo where survival is by the strongest and politically well connected. 

Mbefo wrote thus: “Besides the fact that the Africans were seen as savages is the added prejudice that informed European appreciation of this race of people".

 Linnaeus in his system of nature (1735) had distinguished five varieties of the human species and allocated each definite racial characteristics. According to this classification, the black race belongs at the base. Here is the table content:Wildman: Four-footed, mute, hairy; American: Copper-coloured, choleric, erect; Hair: black, straight, thick; nostrils: wide; face: harsh; beard: scanty; obstinate, content free; paints himself with fine red lines. Regulated by customs; Europeans: Fair, sanguine, brawny. Hair yellow, brown, flowing; eyes: blue, gentle, acute, inventive. Covered with close vestments. Governed by laws; Asiatic: sooty, melancholy, rigid. Hair: black; eyes: dark; severe, haughty, covetous. Covered with loose garments. Governed by opinions; African: Black, phlegmatic, relaxed. Hair: black, frizzled; skin: silky; nose: flat; lips: tumid; crafty, indolent, negligent. Anoints himself with grease. Governed by caprice.

That this characterization of the African influenced European activity in Africa is evident on the eve of decolonization, Fr. Mbefo observed. 

Equally, he noted that the argument is not whether Linnaeus was correct or incorrect in his classification and characterization. His ideas therefore helped to formulate European strategy in white relations with the black savages. 

But the entire picture and impressions being created by ongoing savage massacre of farmers by armed Fulani herdsmen has truly validated the pathetic characterization of an African as a savage and someone who is governed by caprices.

The only way to show the World that we are not all irrationally animalistic is for Nigerians in their millions to speak out and demand that the killers and their collaborators are brought to decisive justice now. 

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) 

 

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