The civil society organisation, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has condemned President Muhammadu Buhari’s unusual enthusiasm to speak for Fulani herdsmen by his open support for the widely rejected open grazing of cattle.
The group also asked Buhari to speak less because his public speeches of late rather than give hope and abiding faith in the unity of Nigeria, have evoked old faultlines which are threatening to tear Nigeria apart.
A statement issued by HURIWA on Thursday and obtained by PlatinumPost, also carpeted the president for displaying crass disrespect for sacredness of life by speaking more in defence of deadly activities of Fulani herdsmen.
“HURIWA condemns what it calls intentional show of wicked ignorance by President Muhammadu Buhari who during his interview with Arise Television clearly showed his poor appreciation of the problems of insecurity in the South East of Nigeria by comparing INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF BIAFRA (IPOB) as another word for the ethnic nationality in Nigeria known collectively as NDIGBO.
“According to the president in his interview, he said erroneously that people from the South East have too much investment in Nigeria. He also threatened to send the Military and Police after them.”
HURIWA quoted Buhari as saying :”That IPOB is just like a dot in a circle. Even if they want to exit, they will have no access to anywhere.
” And the way they are spread all over the country, having businesses and property, I don’t think IPOB knows what they are talking about. In any case, we say we’ll talk to them in the language that they understand. We’ll organise the police and the military to pursue them”.
The rights group said it was unacceptable that a country like Nigeria with millions of intellectuals of global reputation to be governed by a President like Muhammadu Buhari who clearly does not know that Igbo Ethnic bloc is distinctive and separate from the self determination group known as the Indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB).
“This ignorance or willful forgetfulness on the part of President on the fundamental conceptual Chasm and distinction between a group of youthful agitators with the entire IGBO RACE. This forgetfulness and willful ignorance is unpardonable and dangerous,” the group said.
Condemning Buhari’s support for open grazing of cows amidst widespread rejection by Nigerians, HURIWA said: “It is insensitive on the part of President Muhammadu Buhari to vehemently canvass open grazing of cattle by Fulani herdsmen which has become the most disturbing cause of bloody conflicts across Nigeria leading to the destruction of lives and property of hundreds of thousands of citizens who are mostly rural farmers.
“The President rather than take steps to order the arrest, swift prosecution and sanction of these armed Fulani herdsmen with blood of innocent citizens on their hands and who have unleashed massive scale of violence, President Buhari has continued to stoke the embers of divisiveness by seeking to railroad the office of the Attorney General of the Federation to take lands from states to be made open grazing routes for private owners of cattle. This same President did not for once observed a minute silence to honour the memories of the over ten thousand Nigerians citizens slaughtered by Fulani herdsmen but is more concerned about seizing lands to donate for open grazing.
“This President speaks like someone who has an agenda for Fulani to pursue even at the cost of stoking up civil war. This tendency to grab lands across the Country for open grazing even when under the land use Act the governors who have control over lands have rejected open grazing is definitely going to lead to more and more violence and killings even as no effort is made to disarm the armed herders”.
HURIWA recalled that Buhari had given approval to the return of the open grazing practised during the first Republic where herdsmen used designated grazing routes to move their cattle to several parts of the country.
“The President said he had asked the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to begin the process of recovering land from persons who have converted cattle grazing routes for their personal use.
” Buhari said this during an interview with Arise Television which was aired on Thursday.
” The President said the grazing routes were designated in the 1st Republic when “Nigerians use to obey laws” but those routes had been converted,” the statement added.