…I have told herders not to obey satanic grazing laws
National President, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore Socio-cultural Organisation, Abdullahi Bello Bodejo, has said the anti grazing laws by some states, especially in the Southern part of the country exist only in the media and could not be implemented.
Speaking with The Sun, Bodejo said the groaning over the high price of cow meat would get louder, asserting that prices would hit the rooftop in the coming months.
What is your view on the way things are going on in the country?
I have to speak on the side of the Fulani. For us, we have not had it so bad all over the country. While others are crying, the Fulani are dying. The situation is so bad. They don’t have place to graze their cattle; they don’t have hospitals, they don’t have schools.
In many states in the North, especially, Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, the Fulani are afraid to come to buy food; these are innocent people who are not into robbery, banditry or other forms. We are supporting the military and other security agencies to wipe out banditry in the country because it is affecting the Fulani.
However, in the process of wiping out the bandits, the Fulani have become the victims. An example is what happened in one local government in Sokoto State, where the vigilance group went and slaughtered Fulani people, accusing of them of being bandits. In Zamfara State, the so-called vigilantes are responsible for banditry in the state and other states in the North.
Like bandits, Boko Haram also operates in the forest; the Fulani are equally doing their legitimate activities in the bushes and forests, and they can’t abandon their cattle and come and stay in the town. While they are in the forests, bandits and Boko Haram kidnap them, as well as rustle their cattle. And when they come to the town to buy provisions, security agents and vigilance groups kill them, saying they are bandits, whereas they are innocent. This is their dilemma, which is disturbing them and they have been complaining to us.
The government is trying to deal with the bandits and we support them, but how to separate them from the innocent Fulani is our headache. Our people are living inside the forests and the bandits and Boko Haram members are also living in the forest and if security agents are asked to go after the bandits or Boko Haram, they come after our people, who would not see the need to run because they are innocent. If you go to the South-West, South-East and South-South, you will see how they are killing the Fulani.
Before, the Fulani were migrating from North to South, but now they are migrating outside the country to Cameroun, Central Africa and other countries. They are leaving Nigeria en masse, which is not good for the country because of their contributions to the growth of the country.
We want the president to hasten and bring back our grazing routes and grazing reserve areas so that some Fulani that are not leaving the country can see where they settle to do their businesses.
In some states, these bandits are kidnapping Fulani, killing them, raping their wives, but this is not reported in the media. In some states, they can’t go to market because the moment the vigilance groups see them, they presume them to be bandits and kill them. Some of them are surviving with little nunu they extract from cows. They have laid these complaints to us, but we don’t know how to go about it even though we support the wiping out of these bandits and Boko Haram.
I appeal to the security agencies and vigilance groups that, while dealing with the bandits, they should also be careful not to touch innocent Fulani. Any Fulani who is seen committing crime or carrying out banditry should be dealt with because he is causing a big trouble to the innocent ones.
When you said the vigilantes in Sokoto and Zamfara are killing Fulani, are they not Fulani also?
They are not Fulani. It is very difficult for a Fulani to kill another Fulani; it is hard for a Hausa to kill a fellow Hausa. They have used propaganda to brand every Fulani man a bandit and begin to treat him as a leper. These people killing them are not Fulani; they are these Hausa boys and other tribes there.
You said Fulani are suffering. Have you complained to the president, who is also a Fulani?
Yes, the president is a Fulani man. Since he came to power, the Nigeria he met was not like the Nigeria when he was military head of state. When he just assumed office, he was welcomed with crises in Benue and Plateau states, as well as Boko Haram. While he was tackling all these, then the economy became bad.
The truth remains that this government is not helping the Fulani; our suffering is really more now that our person is the president.
When you talked about Fulani, do you mean all the Fulani or just the herdsmen?
We have two types of Fulani – the educated and the non-educated. The work of the non-educated is just cattle rearing and carrying out their activities inside forests and bushes.
Yes, we have Fulani who are governors, ministers, technocrats, but I’m not talking about them because they are already made, and are not concerned with the welfare of the other Fulani.
I’m talking about the Fulani who are inside bushes drinking the same water with their cows, and do not have access to hospitals, schools. Now, we have senators, ministers, governors who before were also drinking water from the same river with their cows, but they have climbed up and have forgotten these other people and they don’t care about them.
People are complaining over the high cost of cow meat. What made it so?
Everybody wants to go into cow business – Tiv, Yoruba, Igbo, etc. Before, it was the sole business of the Fulani. If you go to these states that are banning open grazing, over 75 per cent of the cows there belong to the indigenes, especially the Tiv in Benue State.
Again the activities of the middlemen are responsible for the high cost of cows. The Fulani man does not make more than 40 per cent of the total cost of cow. Fulani man will bring out cow from bush and sell it for N120, 000 and by the time it gets to Lagos, the cost will jump up toN280, 000 and they will sell it N350, 000; when the owner of the cow sold it just N120, 000 and went back to the bush to continue his suffering.
The next reason is that, like I said earlier, these people are leaving the country in droves to other West African countries to continue with their activities since Nigeria is no more favourable to them.
The price will still go up from now. Almost all the cows consumed in this country come from individual Fulani and not from government, so as they are leaving the country, you should know the implication. You are a governor, you don’t support them in anywhere and the propaganda is to demonise the Fulani person. This has made them very uncomfortable.
Why can the price come down?
I wouldn’t want the price to come down so that everybody will know the value of the Fulani in this country. I’m a cow lover; it is a business I inherited from my father, and my father inherited it from his grandfather and it goes on like that.
I want everybody to know that our business is not an ordinary one that people should look down on. They should know the value of the cow and appreciate the Fulani. Those governors coming up with anti grazing laws can eat the dogs, pigs, pussycats and other animals they are rearing in their states.
You people are seen as lawless for not obeying the anti-open grazing laws?
I asked the Fulani in those states that banned open grazing how they are faring; they said, they only hear it in the radio and that they don’t know about it.
So, the anti-grazing law is just a media thing; it can never be implemented. It can only operate on the television, radio and in newspapers. It does not concern us and I have asked my people in those states never to obey it, and to continue with their activities.
No Fulani man will obey the law. If you are a governor and you want them to obey it, give them grazing reserve area. You can’t just wake up and tell the Fulani to leave your state or stop grazing their cows in your state.
As a governor, you need food to eat, so also the cows need food to be alive. Or you want the cows to die? We want places provided for us to rear our cows.
We are not lawless; we respect law and obey order. It is the Nigeria constitution we obey, and not the anti-open grazing laws by states. We respect and support the governors; we are not anybody’s enemy. The only problem is the law, which is satanic. The Sun