Hate Speech law: Fulani haters in trouble – Myetti Allah

NATIONAL President of Miyetti Allah Kautel Hore socio-cultural organisation, Abdullahi Bodejo, has said that there was no basis for people to call for his arrest over a recent interview in which he said, states that fail to establish settlements for Fulani herdsmen may know no peace. Bodejo told VINCENT KALU, in an interview that the Fulani are the best leaders in Africa, and labelled those who are advocating to move the herdsmen to Sambisa forest, as haters of Fulani ethnic group.

The government is proposing a law against hate speech; offenders are liable to death, what is your view?

It is a welcome development because of the way people are abusing the media, especially the social media. The manner people are insulting others in the social media shouldn’t be encouraged. They abuse malams, imams, pastors, president, governors, name it. These people don’t have jobs, but just to bring others down; destroy their images and paint them black in the hearts of others.

However, there are other offences people are committing in the country, the govern- ment is supposed to join these offences to carry the same weight with hate speech. The government should also regulate the use of internet in this country, as a way of curtailing the hate speech.

A situation somebody can write or post something that can incite people, tribe, religion against each other shouldn’t be tolerated. These days, people are just writing something against the Fulani in order to make other ethnic groups to hate them.

This law against hate speech is very favourable to the Fulani, as many people have been made to hate the Fulani through what was posted in the social media.

In your recent interview, where you said that, ‘No Ruga, no peace’, many people and groups are calling for your arrest and prosecution, as they said that it amounted to hate speech and incite- ment. What is your reaction to this?

I don’t know how that can be incitement or hate speech. I said, if you are a governor of a state, you are governor of everybody – farmers, especially cattle rearers, and as governors, you shouldn’t wait for Federal Government’s intervention, you are supposed to carve out or create a place with modern amenity for the Fulani herdsmen or create a grazing reserve for them in order to have peace, and avoid the conflict between the herdsmen and farmers.

How can this be a hate speech or incitement? I’m the leader of these Fulani herds- men, and their issue is the problem for ev- erybody in this country. I have cows, but I don’t have cattle route to rear them; I don’t have a place to rear them, then, I say, find a Ruga or cattle reserve or grazing route to avoid trouble, is that a hate speech?

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Fulani are contributing a lot in this coun- try; what the herdsmen need is where they will be grazing their cows. I know the prob- lem that we are facing all over the country. I know the federal government is planning on how to solve this Fulani- farmers issue, but before then, the governors should start doing something by creating a place for them in each state.

I’m not wrong to ask that cattle routes, Ruga or cattle reserve be opened for the herdsmen. You can see cows walking on highways because there is no cattle routes; herdsmen are walking up and down in this country and are confused because no place to do their business.

For a governor who says that he doesn’t have any place for Ruga, cattle colony, or route, what is the consequence?

You can chase them out like Governor Ortom of Benue State has done. All our members have already left Benue State be- cause of the antigrazing law. Before, Fulani herdsmen were living with everybody, but now everybody is trying to hate them.

If a governor says he doesn’t have land for grazing or Ruga, no cattle colony, it is good, there is no problem, but I know that will not lead to the end of Fulani in this country; come what may, they will continue to survive in this country and that is why we are telling our members to change their thinking on the next line of business to do instead of relying sorely on this cattle rearing business.

If you are a governor and you say you don’t have land for the Fulani, that means you don’t want them in your state, and you can pursue them out from your state. There is no problem.

Why is it that they don’t want them around, is it as some people say that history has it when you give them one plot of land, they extend and encroach into other plots and before you know it they have taken everyplace, and impose their authority?

This is just propaganda to put the Fulani in bad light. If those people saying this know the history of this country, they are not supposed to say that about the Fulani. Fulani are already blessed people; everywhere they go, they carry their blessings.

Before you say anything against the Fulani, go and check, Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello, how they did during their leader- ship, how they handled everybody. These people don’t know the history of the Fulani and that is why they are being antagonistic against them.

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Maybe, the history, according to this group was that the Fulani always come in peace, and like they did in the North, they conquered the Hausa, came down to Ilorin and conquered part of Yoruba

That is why I said, the Fulani are already blessed people. If God blessed another tribe, how can you stop that blessing? Fu- lani are the best leaders in Africa. Even in Nigeria here, go and check the domains of emirs who are Fulani, they accommodate everybody – Yoruba, Tiv, Igbo, etc; they never expel people from their land.

Assume you plant maize in your farm and you see cows eating them, how would you feel?

I will feel very bad, but mind you, it is not only Fulani who are rearing cows. The other people who have now joined in rear- ing cows don’t know how to control the cattle in the bush. These people are being forced to go and learn Fulani language. These cows that are destroying people’s farms are not being herded by Fulani, go and check.

Who are they?

If you have seen a case where police arrested herdsmen whose cows were de- stroying farmlands, show me the place, I want to go and see them. There are different Fulani, but people may not know; it is not only one tribe of Fulani. For a true Fu- lani, if you go and destroy a person’s farm with your cattle that is the way that God will also destroy your cattle.

It is not good. When we were growing up, our fathers, even our grand fathers always told us that if you are rearing cow (we call it haram) and you use them to destroy people’s farm, your cows will not be healthy; they will not grow to be fat, they will not grow.

Do you mean that Fulani don’t herd those cows that destroy farms crops?

Yes. Fulani do not own them

Which other people rear cows?

Anywhere you see cattle destroying crops, go and check the identity of the herdsmen. For example, in Nasarawa and Taraba states, as well as other states, Fu- lani already have committee to take care of how people are rearing cows. If cattle destroy any farm, members of the commit- tee will go after the herder, and he will be punished and seen as person who doesn’t want peace. We are doing a lot to make sure that there is peace wherever we are. I’m telling you that Fulani are not the only ones rearing cattle. Right now, you have people who have bought more than five thousand hectares of land where they are rearing cows; they are no Fulani.

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That one is ranching, which everybody is advocating for

If you are a Fulani man and you want to go and buy that large expanse of land, how many cows will you want to sell to buy 1000 hectares of land? Maybe, if you have 300 cows and you sell all of them, you may still not be able to buy 1000 hectares of land.

That is the problem the Fulani are facing in this country, everybody is working to have his own place for business, and that is why we are calling on the state governors to understand our problems; that they should accommodate everybody.

To halt these incessant clashes, people are suggesting that ranches be created in Sambisa forest, with all the value chains in animal husbandry. The place is bigger than Lagos State

That is the level of hatred people have for the Fulani in this country. Why is everybody pursuing us to go to Sambisa when they know that it is a no go area? Ok, let Fulani go to Sambisa and be wiped out completely; is that their plans? Everything about Fulani is politicised. Every state has land, and it is for the governors to carve a portion and give us a place, where our children can go to school, a place where we can take care of our cows.

Since Buhari came to power, I know the federal government has been trying to solve the problems facing this country – problem of insecurity, herdsmen/ farmers’ clashes. I know the government is trying to make every farmer happy, but when it comes to the issue of the government trying to make the herdsmen enjoy life, ev- erybody will be shouting that Buhari wants to collect land and give to his people. They are doing that because the president is a Fulani man.

Since Buhari came to power, I know the federal government has been trying to solve the problems facing this country – problem of insecurity, herdsmen/ farmers’ clashes. I know the government is trying to make every farmer happy, but when it comes to the issue of the government trying to make the herdsmen enjoy life, everybody will be shouting that Buhari wants to collect land and give to his people. They are doing that because the president is a Fulani man.

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