By Betty Abah
Last Friday (August 5), my elder brother, Obekpa James Onuh, same-father-same-mother as we put it in Nigeria, was macheted by two Fulani herdsmen during his visit to our village, Orokam in Benue State.
So, compatriots, so this is it (deep breath): we are no longer safe even in our ancestral homeland.
But life sometimes is unfair, so, true to type, the herdsmen, on arrival, came with their baggage of trouble. Besides annexing ancestral lands with the connivance of a local chief, farmlands have been ravaged by their cows, our women have been raped and locals fear the Agatu ‘treatment’ (massacre) may befall them, so they hardly say ‘pim’.
My brother’s case was obviously not a robbery incidence: nothing was taken from him. The bike which belonged to the wife of another cousin, was found the next day at the spot. It is a criminal gang bent on unleashing terror for reasons that absolutely beggars belief, leaving with you with several puzzles.
The security agencies? They are basically looking the other way. Though the case was reported at the local police post, no arrests have been made so far. I hear they are scared of President Buhari’s ‘body language’ and don’t want to hurt the trouble makers.
Why has no one been arrested, tried and brought to book over the series of carnages across the country at least in the last one year? I hear everyone is scared of Buhari’s body language.
Why does the presidency choose to be silent in the face of most of these attacks that have left hundreds dead in their wake in some instances but would offer profuse tear-soaked condolences to other countries after terrorist attacks on their citizens? Body language.
Why has the president, in a rare display of favourtitism, ordered the Minister of Agriculture to go to governors, asking that ancestral lands be annexed to cattle rearers, when fellow Nigerians who are involved in similar private businesses like chicken, pigs, goats and rabbits rearing are not extended same privilege (meanwhile a bill on Grazing Rights that would also set aside special fund for the Grazing reserves sits majestically in the National Assembly waiting to be passed to give legitimacy to it all)?
Why is the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, seat of Federal Government now being besieged by herds and herds of cows eating away at flowers and ornamental plants, disrupting traffics, threatening commuters’ safety and messing up every corner with their ‘expensive shit’ while all the enforcement agencies headquartered in the same city look shyly away?
I believe that President Buhari would be doing himself a lot of good, now and in the ever-hovering face of Posterity, to rein in the cattle rearers and dispel these dangerous rumours and perceptions making round.
He must put in every effort to dispel the general perception around his discriminatory treatment of his Fulani cattle rearer-kinsmen, run Nigeria like the secular, multi-ethnic state that it is. He must act, and must be seen to be president of ALL NIGERIA and not just of his Fulani rearer-kinsmen, or of the North alone.
The security of my peace-loving and soft-spoken teacher brother and indeed EVERY NIGERIAN is government’s preeminent duty as enshrined in our Constitution. It must be upheld. Nigerians and Nigeria must be safe!
I thank God for my brother’s survival. We have fears if he would ever be able to make full use of his left arm considering the level of injury but at least he is alive with us. If we his siblings and our parents are still in this deep shock, I can’t even imagine those who lost entire families in Agatu and several other communities across Benue, Enugu, Plateau, Adamawa and in several other states visited by these crazy fellows and in such gruesome and unprovoked manners.
Abah is a citizen journalist and activist.