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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Short Essay 36: Latest on Fulani/STF Standoff

Short Essay 36
By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde

The Latest on Fulani/STF Standoff

(All editing errors regretted. There isn't time to proofread the article thoroughly this late)

When it became clear that the Defence Headquarters are bent on carrying out its security operation in the areas it announced, we put our heads together to see what best we can make of the situation to ensure minimum difficulties for the Fulani that were to be affected. Saleh Bayari, the Protem National Secretary of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association who was just released yesterday after a four-day detention by the SSS, was very handy. I got over to him and together with some Miyetti Allah leaders from the affected areas we visited the Special Task Force (STF) Headquarters near Hill Station Hotel, Jos, to iron out some issues regarding how the operation would affect the Fulani.

Principally, we wanted to, one, finalize on the camps to relocate them temporarily should we be successful later in the day in convincing them to the relocate for the period of the operation. The Defence has that evening given the nation the assurance that the displacement is temporary and not a design to evict the Fulani from the area totally. The three camps listed in the day are all located in areas heavily populated by Beroms. The Fulani will just not accept to go there. Also, moving the Fulani is not like moving other people. Their masters – the cows – must be taken into consideration. The cows have to graze in a secure place, away from farms. Otherwise, na another wahala kuma.

Two, we also wanted to ensure that the Fulani are secured in their camps, along with their cows. Their property back home must be secured also. Without this assurance, the possibility that the Berom attacking them and the houses they would leave behind should not be ruled out completely.

Three, we also wanted to know what arrangement was made to deliver adequate relief materials to their camps to cushion the harsh experience of displacement and avert humanitarian crisis. Speaking to one of the local government chairmen around 2.30am earlier, he confessed a colleague that this would be the first time in the history of Plateau crisis that they would be camping the Fulani. So they do not have the full picture of their humanitarian requirements, he said. In previous situations, typically, the Fulani simply left to other areas on their own without seeking any assistance from the Plateau State government they amply mistrust. Even in this case, they refused to communicate with officials until Malam Shehu Buba from Bauchi intervened.

Four, the reassurance from the STF commander that these IDPs will return to their homes immediately the short operation is completed.

In our meeting with the commander, Maj-General Henry Ayoola, he and his team assured us that all he wanted is to restore peace to the Plateau. It really took them a good deal of explanations to convince most of us that they are not playing the game of Jang, the Berom state governor.

The secret of the matter, they told confided in us, is that they do not believe that the people they encountered in the mother of all battles last Tuesday in the area after a policeman was killed were Fulani. Our Fulani, they said, do not have that firepower. Boko Haram, they strongly suspect, could be behind this. So they want to go into the places those people are using as hideouts to flush them out, within a period of one day or – maximum – two. “If I can do that without firing a single shot,” Ayoola assured us, “I would be very glad.”

Though many of us are not privy to the intelligence information that is available to the commandant, there is the general belief amongst us that the exercise is unnecessary if its aim is just to flush out the perceived outside attackers. They must have left already because tomorrow it would be two weeks and so much information on the intention of government has been made public. If the security challenges of the country are anything to go by, the attackers must have thought ahead of government and left since.

Honestly, being at the middle of a situation like this is extremely difficult for us. Maj-General Ayoola himself is just recently posted to head the STF in Jos. He is a young man in his forties, I believe, except if he is looking younger that his age. He may not be in the full picture of any hidden machination that may be employing the STF to dislodge the Fulani, now or in the long run, from the place after the Berom have failed to do so for over a decade. The level of deceit played in the crisis on the Plateau is really unprecedented in this country. Everybody that attempted to bring peace to the state will tell you the same story. I will be glad if Ayoola will prove me wrong.

This is a suspicion shared not only among the Fulani but also among many international organizations that have been discussing the matter since the evacuation order was given. Leaders of this country have proved to be pathological liars who cling to power through deceit, preoccupy themselves with looting the treasury and leave the country to run on autopilot. This is the result. The world has been watching them all along. The UN is particularly serious about this operation. Only God knows how many emails were flying last night between New York and Geneva on this matter, an official of a UN body told me. Ayoola and Defence Headquarters must therefore know the gamble they are making. If in the end of the operation or even in the long run it is proved that the operation was done to place the Fulani at a demographic disadvantage in the area or make them vulnerable to attacks by the Berom, heads will definitely roll at the Hague in addition to the internal crisis it will generate. Then as I said in my previous article we will be faced by a crisis worse than Boko Haram.

Despite our misgivings, we decided to be on the side of hope, based on the assurances the STF gave us and left the rest to God, the Able that knows what the hearts conceal and what they reveal. Four vehicles were arranged to convey us to the place to prove to the STF that there were still thousands of people in the vicinity of Mahanga. This was necessary because Ayoola and Col. Abdulmumin Jimoh, one of the field commanders, were emphatic that not up to 10% of the population remained there. Ayoola said he was in all the places yesterday and he did not see people. Those of us from the area refuted the claim out rightly and told him that thousands of people were still there. Of course, he was right that the Berom since a week ago have fled from most of the villages in the area into the neigbouring Kaduna State and other towns.

It turned out that our going to Mahanga, the epicenter of the faceoff between the STF and the Fulani, averted what would have been a major humanitarian catastrophe. If we had left Ayoola with his belief that people have already left the place, his soldiers would have killed thousands of Nigerians there after the start of their operation, when they would declare anybody seen in the place a potential target of elimination. In just less than five minutes of our arrival, we were able to prove our point. Families started trooping onto the high ground we stood on from all directions. The Deputy Commander of the STF, DSP Umar Magiri, immediately became convinced that people have not left. He informed the commandant instantly. The task of convincing them to evacuate then started. I leave you to imagine how difficult it was to disabuse their minds and reassure them that no ill was intended, more so when the Berom did not help matters. The Fulani complained that the Berom were beating drums of victory throughout the previous night in the neighbouring villages, jubilating that the Fulani will finally be evicted from the area. See?

We overcame these difficulties. In the end, we got their leaders to agree on the evacuation and allowed them to choose the locations of their camps, separate from those of Berom which, in any case, were too far. They chose the nomadic primary schools at Dogo and Sharuk in Barikin Ladi LGA and those at Diyan and Rim in Riyom LGA. These are places on the rim of the Mahanga Basin from where the Fulani can see the happenings in their dwellings that are dispersed in the undulating valley of Luggere below.(One of the locations, Rim (Makaho) was where my maternal grandfather, Ardo Shehu, once lived for many decades. It was there my mother raared cows as a small girl in the early 1930s. I used to visit him with my uncle Bello in the mid-1970s before the Ardo agreed to relocate back to Toro around 1980 where he died five years later. Huh! The old man was really hot-tempered. Kai Kai!)

Then the commander promised that no further molestation and plundering of their property by soldiers would take place. We later returned to the crowd for the address by the DC.

The DC’s speech composed of the following six points:

(1) The reason behind the operation and the assurance that it will hardly be for more than a day or two.
(2) The assurance that everybody will be allowed to return to his house immediately after the operation.
(3) That the STF personnel will immediately arrive to provide security to Fulani properties.
(4) That nobody should run away when faced by a soldier. He should stop and surrender instead for his safety.
(5) That the operation is in no way aimed at driving them away from the area.
(6) The announcement of the locations of the camps as agreed by their leaders.

We have him on videotape, not for Youtube, but just in case.

Movement was to begin immediately. It was already 4pm. The operation could start any time after the deadline of 12pm later in the night. Contacts were immediately made with officials of State Emergency Relief Agency (SEMA), which were in the waiting already. The locations of the four camps were immediately passed to them. They promised to start delivering relief materials right away.

We returned to the STF headquarters in Jos around 5.30pm. We told the command that leaders of the Miyetti Allah will be monitoring the camps during the period of the operation until the IDPs return to their homes safely as promised.

Before I close this update, I would like to express our gratitude to the individuals and various local and international bodies that showed serious concern over this issue. They have understood that this is a matter that borders on gross war crimes and violations of the Kampala convention. For the first time, the nation was united against government arbitrariness to the weak. It is left to the government to fulfill its commitments to the people it is displacing intentionally. If in the end it proves to be a deceitful, then its officials will have themselves to blame. Nobody – from the field commanders to the President – will claim ignorance because they have been adequately reminded by local and international organizations about their obligations under the international conventions that it ratified. It got away with the massacre of Muhammad Yusuf and his group. It will not get away with this.
Our lawyers are already placed on notice. Combined with a catalogue of previous evidence of genocide on the Plateau, a convincing case will not be far-fetched at the Hague.

We are humbled by the gross support the Fulani received from their brethren including many dignitaries across the country and the thousands of youths in the social media. The solidarity expressed for the Fulani cause by the entire Hausa community in Jos town is unprecedented. The township was empty. Though the city calm and banks and offices have opened, virtually all shops were closed. We appeal to people to remain calm as we update them daily with the happenings on the matter. The entire Fulani community in the country remains indebted for the high level of support they received.

Finally, the cooperation of the STF team is hereby acknowledged and highly appreciated. We hope they live to their promises. We will commend them if they live to their promises and behave professionally. If they do not, apart from inviting our condemnation, they will definitely have themselves to blame.

16 July 2012

Previous articles on the matter:

1. The Fulani Will Not Leave

2. The Fulani and the Genocide Dream of Jang


Auwal Abdussalam said...

Allah ya saka da alkhairi

Yes said...

Keep it up Dr. May Allah bless you abundantly.

Usman B. Zaria

Saadatu Hamma said...

Miyetti!Dr I am speechless and humbled,you have done more for our people than any modern leader.

Sagir Zakari said...

Alhamdulillah! A wellcome development. Jazakallah bi khair Dr.


Kudos Allah reni. May ur joint efforts be rewarded abundantly, Amin

shah said...

It is very sad, unfortunate and terrifying for the STF, under the instructions of the Plateau state government, to evacuate Nigerians from places they have been living for over a century just in the name of flushing out criminals who must have already fled by now. This is an absurd operation which I believe will not produce any meaningful result. The STF only wants to do what it has been doing in trouble areas in the north where if any attack is launched the soldiers and the police go on shooting sporadically on innocent Nigerians as well as plundering and destroying their properties. The questions I want to ask the STF and the Plateau state government are: why is it that this similar operation was not carried out in the past when the Beroms were terrorizing the Hausas and the Fulanis for over a decade on the Plateau? Why is it that this operation is carried out now that an attack was launched on the Beroms? Why is that the majority of the villages served with the order of the evacuation are Fulani dominated? Why is it that when a Berom is attacked, even without any concrete evidence, the blame goes to the Fulanis? Why is it that when a fulani or a Hausa is attack the government and the STF always claim that no suspect was arrested and/or nobody was ever blamed? Why is it that those people that killed, roasted and ate Hausas and Fulanis on Eid ground despite the presence of security operatives were not fished out or a similar operation by the STF, just as it is planning to do now, was not carried out to locate their hideouts if they ever hide?

It is high time that Jonah Jang understand that for him and this beloved Beroms to live in peace, their neighbors must be in peace also. What happened last week speaks the truth. But only a rational human being understands and acts accordingly.

Thank You Sir For The Good Job.
Allah Kara maka lafiya amin.

Anonymous said...

It seems no body understands the real problem of Plateau or pple are just being hypocrites. If their is need for any body to vacate an area, it should Jang vacating not only the Government House, but also Plateau State. He has never done any good to the State and all he has been bringing to the State was blood shed and inter tribal war. He is evil and with in the State, peace is not likely to prevail.

Ahmed Modibbo said...

Well done Dr Tilde. You used your brain here while your heart led you in the previous article. The STF was right from the beginning. You just did not have the open mind to see that. We just hope people with your type of temperament do not get to serious leadership posotion in this country.

Abubakar Sadiiq said...

Brother, Dr. Tilde we are highly indepted to all your efforts right from the updates you keep to let us know the awkward situation our fulbe brothers find themselves in plateau state, to that you made as a mediator to the mutual understanding of both the fulanis and STF on one hand and we that have the bad feelings over this matter from all corners of west Africa and even beyond.
May Allaah (swt) reward you in abundance for all the good roles you play.
We remain watchful over this issue with the hope that all the terms of the reached agreement between the fulanis and STF will be kept intact.
Allah renu laawol fulbe lanyol babaji men. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Dr Tilde,
Thanks for this. What do you think of the idea of Grazing Reserves across the country?

nasirudanjauro said...

Ya jaumirawo hoinu ko halli

Muhd Ismail Hinna said...

Dr.,this is a good one too.A word is always enough for the brilliant.We are waiting to see the true type of leadership we have in this country.

Anonymous said...

Very funny, this JTF guy , what do they think they are doing. Will those guys still be waiting for them in the hills till the finish their evacuation to engage the on batle. Campaign after election.

Hanny said...

May Allah reward your efforts. May He protect our people from all evil intentions. Amin.

I had tears in my eyes as I read this piece.

Anonymous said...

Your on-the- spot comment has left me teary eyed. What a couple of individuals who have the wellbeing of humanity could achieve despite the overwhelming odds stacked against them. I pray that our leaders learn a thing or two from this rare display of courage. May Allah reward you and keep protecting the week among us. Dr Allah ya saka da allheri! Shammas Habib

omar tilde said...

allah kara nisan kwana dr

Anonymous said...

May Allah reward you abundantly for your tremendeous effort Dr. Anything that has a beginning must definately has an end. But I'm very pessimistic about nigerian securities especially on this absurd operation. But i pray that it shul be safe.

sada said...

Alhamdulillah, Dr Allah ya Saka da alheri!!! Your articles have been very informative!!

Aliyu Nuhu said...

Kudos to you Dr.Tilde, May Allah reward u abundantly ameen. Indeed, there has been a tremendous amount of effort from your side especially with the on-going situation plotted against Muslims in Plateau State.

Anonymous said...

Well done sir.

Abdulkadir Durbi said...

Ahmed Modibbo you are not serious! STF did not tell the people the displacement is going to be temporary before now. When one field commander was telling his boss that all have left when thousands did not you are telling us they did the right thing? Allah hoinu! Dr mance da shi!

Abdulkadir Durbi said...

Dr Allah wallu masin

Anonymous said...

Every well meaning nigerian will recommend You and S.bayari for this seifless service to humanity, the effort not only safe the innocent fulanis from the pre-planned genocide but also the entire country from falling into a terrible crisis. Subhanallah ! Sir You are indeed important .

Huzaifa Sani Ilyas said...

Human race will never find peace except they understand each other and adapt to each other the creeds of patience and endurance, and shun away hatred and oppression.

Mannir said...

Thank you Dr Tilde, may Allah reward you and all that make this sacrificial efforts to bring relief and possible peace to His servants. I pray it will be the beginning of peaceful management of conflicts in the entire country.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Which grazing reserves. Creating another trouble.