Why Fulani Kidnappers Deserve Amnesty: They Are Victims Suffering Silently – says Federal Commissioner
In this interview with Ben Agande, a federal Commissioner in the National Population Commission, Dr. Abdulmalik Mohammed Durunguwa, Saradauna Ladduga, speaks on the menace of Kidnappers in the northern part of the country. He says the federal government should consider granting amnesty to Fulani young men involved in kidnapping because according to him, they are themselves victims of criminals. He says some members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) are part of the problems between pastoralists and farmers in the country.
Why do you think more and more Fulani young men are resorting to kidnapping as a means of livelihood?
While not justifying what is happening, most of these young men have resorted to what they are doing because they have been made victims of the viciousness of criminals in the country. That is precisely what is happening. A Fulani man by nature does not know any other thing apart from keeping his cattle. That is the only thing he knows. And then from nowhere, somebody takes all his cows.
This Fulani man does not know any trade; he cannot till the land; he is not educated to compete like you and me. He lives in the bush, outside towns and this is by their nature. They are very fearless. Coupled with this is the fact that the Fulani man is hedonistic by nature. He likes enjoyment. Somebody who likes pleasure is suddenly deprived of his source of livelihood and then, he is fearless. These are factors that are just suitable for a criminal to thrive. That is why when they commit a crime, they don’t do anything with the money than to drink and court women.
The government needs to do something very positive. Get people who are Fulani to draw up a strategy, a plan to call these guys to order. If possible, grant them amnesty and take them back to their former trade. Get one male, two female cows to each of these boys so that they can go and start their lives all over again.
Will the granting of N100 Billion as proposed by Miyetti Allah be a solution to the crisis?
It could be a solution but will N100 Billion even be enough to solve this problem? Anyway, it may be a good attempt. However, who will you give the money to? Some of the members of MACBAN are not even Fulani people. They are just mediocre who are inside town looking for what to eat. They are part of the problem. I am not saying all of them are the problem, but some of them are part of the problem.
If you are able to identify some of them that are good, get other people from outside the organization and have a presidential committee to look into the problem. It is a solvable problem. You need people who know the culture and the root of the problem to be able to solve it. Sometimes, it’s shameful for me to identify myself as a Fulani person, but I know the best people that can solve the problem are the Fulani people. They are victims first before making other people victims. The Fulani are suffering silently. Their cattle have been rustled and they don’t have anything to fall back on. They are victims.
Nigerians are becoming more clannish in their outlook, but you seem to be different in your world view. For instance, you adopted the son of a policeman who was killed at the height of Boko Haram and trained him up to University level. What in your upbringing made you different?
No matter your upbringing, it boils down to your mindset. I grew up in a typical Christian setting. I am an indigenous Fulani man from the southern part of Kaduna. My own Fulani, the kachanchere, were living in that part of Kaduna even before some tribes in southern Kaduna dreamt of coming there. So, when I hear the issue of farmers/herders crisis, I just laugh. Some of my best friends are Kagoro or Bajju because these are the people I grew up with. Up till tomorrow, they still remain my best friends. There is nothing that can separate me from them. The first language I learned how to speak, apart from Fulfulde, was Kagoro, then English before I learned how to talk to Hausa when I went to Daura Teachers college.
From childhood, I was made to see the world without differences. Recently, things started happening that beat my imagination and it is caused by the elite. Some of us are educated, but we behave as if we never went to school. We are not helping matters. At this stage of our national development, we should not be thinking of religion and ethnicity. We ought to have outgrown this. Humanity should be the basis of our relationships.
From Genesis, there are two things that you cannot ignore. Apart from Adam and Eve that God created, the first two people that were delivered by human beings were Cain and Abel; one was a cattle rearer while the other was a farmer. It is from Genesis. Sometimes, we go to school, but we don’t think. There are indigenous Fulani people in Nigeria. The land was not their problem but grass on the land. Their cattle eat the grass, but they don’t talk about the land. The only rear cows. Where were they rearing cows? Were they not on top of the land? Why would you say that they don’t own land? What Nigeria is supposed to do now is how to concession some land to the Fulani that are indigenous in such area. Our own in southern Kaduna is very easy because we have grazing reserve right from the Sardauna era. That has mellowed down every crisis in that area. There is no indigenous Fulani in the southern part of Kaduna that is involved in those useless acts of killing innocent people. We are the most organized Fulani people. If you go to Ladduga, it is the best Fulani settlement in Nigeria. It is a model that other people should emulate. Of course, in every society, there are criminals.
I was kidnapped in my house in 2016, a day before my birthday. The person who led the kidnap was not a Fulani man; he was not a Hausa man and was not a Muslim. But I will never say because he was a Kataf boy, all other Kataf are kidnappers. I won’t do that. People should look at the subject of what is going on and not associate it with religion or ethnicity.
Tell us the story of how you came about adopting and sponsoring the son of the policeman that lost his life in a bomb blast.
Sometimes, some things are inspirational or coincidental. I knew the father before he died. We used to call him “bomb”. He was in the security detail of former governor of Kaduna state, Ahmed Makarfi. I was the executive secretary of the Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency. I knew the father, but I was not close to him.
He was a very jovial man. After some time, I heard that somebody was killed while trying to detonate a bomb.
One day, I was at the police headquarters to see the commissioner of police in Kaduna. Behold, I met the wife of the police officer who was killed by the bomb with this young man. They were trying to convince the police commissioner so that the boy could be recruited into the police to replace his father as a recruit. He was looking very handsome and the stature of an ideal policeman. That was while I was waiting to see the commissioner of police. I asked him whether he wrote GCE, he said yes, but he did not enroll for JAMB because according to him, there was no money. I asked him to bring his result for me to see. I asked him what he wanted to study at the university, and he said he wanted to study economics, but with the death of his father, his hope was dashed.
The woman that brought him to the police headquarters was his step mum. He was also a police officer. I asked her why do you want this boy to join the police as a recruit. He said because, with the death of the father, there was nobody to train him. I asked her to give me the boy so that he can become my son. The woman laughed off.
When I went to see the commissioner of police, I repeated the same thing and he was excited. I said since the boy wanted to join the police, let him go to the university and join the police as an officer. The boy became excited. I picked him and brought him to my company. I put him in the maintenance department. I told him, from now, you are my child. I placed him on a salary and rented a place for him. I called the Vice-chancellor of Kaduna State University, who was my childhood friend. I told him I had a candidate for admission into the university. He said to me that since he did not sit for JAMB, it was not going to be possible. He was given admission the following year. He studied Geography instead of Economics that he wanted and graduated with an excellent result and is serving in Katsina. He even won a prize in camp.
He is a very hardworking boy, very gentle. He follows me to my farm and even coordinates my other children for me. In my village, we are 99.9% Fulani. He is from Calabar. He is a Christian. What baffled me most is what he did recently and that was what informed my decision to write about it on Facebook.
The first NYSC allowance he got, he called me and said, daddy, there is nothing I can do for you, but I will send recharge card to you. I felt tears running down my cheeks. He said I made him a complete human being. I don’t want to politicize what I am doing. I am not doing it because I wanted anybody to praise me. Before Edward, I had a girl that I trained up to the university level. I was the person that handed her over in marriage in a church as the father. Her father was my friend but died. I have Igbo people who stayed with me to the point that their children called me their father. I have a child in my village that was a farm hand, but when I discovered his intelligence, I took him up and now he is studying medicine in Uganda. I have a lady in my house right now who is studying for her JAMB. If I publicize what I am doing by setting up a foundation, then the essence will be lost.
Culled from Vanguard News