…Buhari must call his kinsmen to order
…killer herdsmen, inciters of ethnic tension should be dealt with according to law
We are deeply troubled by a recent statement credited to the Leader of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Bello Bodejo, in which he, among other things, claimed that all the lands in Nigeria (including the ancestral lands of the Igbo) belong to them. He further asserted that they need no permission from anyone to grab any land they need anywhere in Nigeria, adding that they have been occupying all the forests in Nigeria for 250 years.
Before now, we had written the United Nations and the Government of the United States over the nocturnal influx of aliens, in a coordinated manner, into Igbo forests. We had also cried out over the wanton killings, rape and destruction of farmlands which have become daily facts of life in our forests. With the claim by Miyetti Allah that Nigeria and all of its lands and forests belong to them, and that they need no permission from anyone to operate anywhere, we now know with mathematical precision who the invaders are and what their mission is.
We hereby state in clear terms that Igboland does not belong to the Fulani, or Miyetti Allah, or the herdsmen. Igboland belongs to Igbo people. The herding of cattle is a private business. Just like every business the Igbo do across the world, the use of land is obtained through rent or purchase. The leadership of Miyetti Allah must understand this fact and stop their provocative, unguarded and uninformed utterances forthwith. Open grazing is antiquated, retrogressive and a potent driver of conflict.
We hereby reiterate our early position that all those who may wish to continue with cattle business in Igboland must be ready to build ranches and keep their cows in them. Open grazing of cattle is unacceptable to us, and the Governors and Houses of Assembly in Igboland should quickly enact the anti-open grazing legislation which we have umpteen times demanded.
The President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, who is also Fulani, should realize he has a key role to play in this issue. They look up to him as their leader, and they seem inspired by his body language. President Buhari should therefore call his kinsmen to order, condemn their atrocities, uphold his oath of office which is to be fair to all Nigerians, and make sure justice is done to all. The claim of ownership over our ancestral lands by Miyetti Allah is not just an existential threat to us as Ndigbo, but it is a matter that is capable of shaking the very foundations of Nigeria.
Finally, we completely reject the red-carpet treatment that armed herdsmen receive from the Government of the country. People who take the lives of our fellow citizens must be dealt with in accordance with the law. Also, those who aid and abet their infamy, stoking the embers of violence and ethnic tension must be brought to book to save Nigeria from becoming a banana republic.
Chief Emeka Diwe
Hon. Gideon Adikwuru
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