National Protem Secretary of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Mallam Sale Bayeri, has blamed the Plateau State Government for the persistent attacks on some villages in Plateau North.
He said the inability of the state government to initiate meaningful dialogue between the warring factions had further strained the fragile relationship in the area.
Bayeri, who spoke to Punch correspondent in an interview in Jos, dissociated his association from the Fulani herdsmen believed to be behind the spate of killings in Jos and other parts of the state.
He however traced the problems to the 2004, 2008 and 2010 crises in the state, when over 150 families of Fulani herdsmen were allegedly killed and their cows and property estimated at over N3bn stolen.
He claimed that the families of these victims, who took refuge in neighbouring states of Bauchi, Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba and other northern states, had been avenging the death of their kinsmen.
He said the state government had not risen to the reality of solving the problem as Bauchi, Taraba and Benue states did.
Bayeri said, “You see the problem is an old one. For a very long time, dating back to living memory, no Berom person or any other tribe on the Plateau would tell you that his parents or grandparents told them that this was the day the Fulani arrived in Plateau. This is because as far as we know, animal husbandry came into existence before farming.
“The point I am trying to make is that cattle-rearing started before farming. This part of the world has been conducive to cattle-rearing from the beginning of time.
“So the Fulani being migratory do not stay for one place for a very long time. So the Fulani man must have been here for a million years but his stay and movement is still seasonal.
“The Fulaniman has never been a land agitator at all. So the nature of his job does not allow him the luxury of owning any land anywhere. He is not like the Hausa man who came for tin mining or whatever and are trying to claim ownership of lands or agitating for political rights.
“So now because of ethnicity and religious difference, the moment there was tension in Jos in 2001, these people forgot that the Fulani have been part and parcel of them from time immemorial and they don’t share the same sentiments as the people residing in Jos that are Muslims.”
According to him, the losses were documented and presented before all commissions of inquiry, stating with the Justice Niki Tobi judicial commission of inquiry.
Beyeri said, “We lost over 300 people, all the women and children their names are there in the Niki Tobi report.
“Up till date, they give the impression that they have not done anything wrong to the Fulani and that Fulani are waking up overnight and attacking them.”
But the state government through the Chief of Staff, Mr. Gyang Pwajok, and the Special Adviser Medua, Mr. Pam Ayuba, said Bayeri was only seeking relevance because he was benefitting from the crises.
Pwajok said, “Bayeri is a conflict merchant seeking relevance and knows nothing about meaningful dialogue. His views merely confirm that, if he is properly cross examined, he knows and may have organised these attacks to justify his new-found role as Adviser to the Sultan on crisis and not peace. I am not surprised that his voice is not the voice of reason but the voice of war.
Ayuba said, “Bayeri is a very poor student of history. He has failed to see the havoc his kinsmen have continued to unleash on innocent villagers; rather his insatiable thirst for crisis will never cease since he remains the greatest beneficiary of the onslaught.”
Culled from Punch