Sometime last year, after the gruesome attacks on communities in Agatu local government which claimed over 500 lives, a leader of the herdsmen, Ardo Boderi Tuja, said they attacked and killed people because, according to him, over 10,000 of their cattle were also killed by the Agatu people. This statement was made at a stakeholders forum in the presence of the then Inspector General Of Police, IGP, Solomon Arase.
The man was not arrested even after claiming responsibility for the attacks. Till date, even one person has not been arrested or invited by the Department of State Services (DSS) in connection with the attacks of last year.
This same leader of Fulani herdsmen, Ardo Boderi Tuja was in Agatu two weeks ago asking for forgiveness from the natives, and was also one of the signatories to the unfortunate treaty between Benue State Government and Fulani herdsmen to come in and graze their cattle on lands they perennially spill blood upon. This agreement also in the presence of two commissioners of police, those of Benue and Nasarawa states.
Note that you can’t ask for forgiveness for what you’re not guilty of, not when it’s a genocide. Still he wasn’t arrested or even invited by DSS to shed more light into his claims.
Today, Apostle Johnson Suleiman, the General Overseer of Omega Fire Ministries Worldwide, has been invited formally by DSS for interrogation over his call for Christians to defend themselves against attacks by Fulani herdsmen. No Fulani man has been killed as a result of his comments yet, but he is being invited.
The differential handling of these two scenarios is a clear indication of how deep we have sunk as a nation and how far we are willing to elaborate our obvious ethnic, religious and political differences.
And it’s surprising how those who led the campaign against the past administration over the handling of Boko Haram and even the Fulani herdsmen killings are mute today because the tables have turned and they are now part of the eaters, but can you ask yourselves, “are yesterday’s lives lost more important than todays?”
I recall how we laid into former Benue Governor, Gabriel Suswam when one of his aides who hailed from Agatu, in a recorded phone conversation, was alleged to be negotiating with Fulani herdsmen to spare his village while he’ll shield them from the advancement of soldiers. We came all out, condemned and called for his head, yet today we sit comfortably, defending the indefensible over issues that border on the lives of fellow humans like us.
Let it be very clear that this romance with Fulani herdsmen and death, for the sole selfish reason of maintaining our political fellowship with the core north will never be acceptable and will definitely cost whoever compromises, his political fortunes either now or later. If it favours you today and you keep mute, it’ll cost you tomorrow.
Usha Anenga is a medical doctor and writes from Makurdi, Benue State