Mambilla Genocide: Emir of Kano didn’t lie, Mr. Governor, by Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde

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Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde.

“Well, the era of monopoly over the media by a section of our population is over. Thanks to modern means of communication, victims of ethnic cleansing in the country can also be heard. They may not have stupendous treasury money in their control like governors Ortom and Darius Ishaku to feed the hungry wolves of the Nigerian print and electronic media. The conscientious few among the media houses along with the social media are here offering opportunities for the victims to cry out and be heard instantly by the world. The Fulani may be slow in response because they would like to ascertain all claims before going public. But when they come up with any statement, it is incontrovertible. It can only be denied but not rebutted. Nobody and no calamity is big enough to push them into lying as a people. Their pride both as Muslims and as an ethnic group cannot permit them to indulge in lies.”

I just read a number of statements from various agents of the Taraba State Government denying the assertion that about eight hundred Fulani were murdered in Mambila in June 2017, as disclosed by His Royal Highness, the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, in an interview with Punch on Sunday, 15 January, 2015.

Joining in the denial was state branch of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). In a statement published by PUNCH today, CAN said, “The records are there in most of the national dailies that reported on the communal clash on the Mambila last year. NGOs, UNHCR and other international organizations visited the Mambila in the wake of the crisis, but in all of these the highest number of deaths recorded from both sides was 18.”

Anyone who was in Nigeria or who followed news in Nigeria at that time knows that this statement has absolutely no basis in truth. CAN did not mention where this estimate of 18 was published. In fact soon after the tragic incidents, precisely on July 3, 2017, Daily Trust published and article entitled “Genocide in Mambilla”. As at that date and so soon after the masaacre the death toll already established among the Fulani was over 200. 180 Fulani villages had been looted and burnt and over 4,000 heads of cattle had been slaughtered in four consecutive days of barbarism by Mambilla militia. An audio recording of an interview given by an Army General who visited the gory scenes left many in tears. He said he had never seen such carnage even in war and told of a pregnant woman who was slaughtered and her baby brought out of the womb and slaughtered as well. All of this information was made available to the general public by eye-witnesses in the immediate aftermath of this exercise in ethnic cleansing. It is ridiculous to claim that a communal clash in which lives lost did not exceed 18 on both sides was referred to as genocide or elicited this response from a war-tested general.

It is sad enough that the Taraba government in its action and inaction clearly was implicated in this genocide, as it has been in previous such incidents. The current denial as evidenced by the statements and attcks on the Emir of Kano are even worse than this because they show a callous disrespect for those who died.

After months of painstaking census and attempts at searching and finding, the Fulani compiles a dossier with a list of over 700 women, children, infants, elderly and some youth who were murdered in this carnage. The names of those killed and the communities to which they belonged were documented. Pictures were taken of over 400 of the dead, names were compiled of persons suspected and/or known to have actively participated in the massacre. I was personally in a meeting when the Emir of Kano handed over this list, and the list of those killed a few months later in Numan to officials of the Federal Government. Present at that meeting were His Excellency the Vice President, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Muhammad Musa Bello and the Chief of Staff to the Vice-President. Also present were the Lamido of Adamawa, elder statesman Ahmed Joda, Dr Usman Bugaje and a large number of Fulani leaders.

I can testify that in handing over the document the Emir stated to the hearing of everyone that he was handing over on behalf of the Fulani a list of over eight hundred killed in Mambilla and Numan as well as a list of suspects with their names and addresses. He told the meeting all the efforts he made since June, his conversations with the Governor and Deputy Governor of Taraba, contacts and information he sent to the Inspector-General of Police and the Deputy Inspector- General Abati and the COS to the VP, as well as his conversations with the Sultan of Sokoto and the contacts the Sultan himself made to find justice. In all of this the Emir had refrained from making public comments, hoping that justice would be done.

“The Taraba State Government can tell the world how many people were killed and by who. As the chief security officer of the state, the Governor should tell the world how many suspects his government has arrested and taken to court. At least, we can remember that the scale of the killings were described by an eye witness general of the Nigerian army, the GOC of 3rd DIV, as the most horrendous he has ever witnessed among the various war scenes he has seen. Yet, CAN is claiming it to be a total of just 18 people – on both sides!  The Fulani have come up with their discovery, presented it to the Federal Government and will soon make it public. We that presented the list to the Vice-President are challenging the Taraba State Government to go through the list and, if not satisfied, take up the challenge of verifying it jointly with us and representatives of the UN and ECOWAS.”

I also confirm that the emir at that meeting touched on all the issues raised in the Punch interview and more. He condemned killings of all human beings irrespective of ethnicity and faith. He talked about the environment and how the lack of attention to climate change and demographic explosion would inexorably lead to conflict. He expressed concern at the silence of the Federal Government when some states divide Nigerians into “indigenes” and “settlers” and how pastoralists who have grazed in locations for centuries are treated as aliens. He protested the criminalization of an entire ethnic group because of the crimes of a few. No one labels an entire ethnic group armed robbers or fraudsters or 419ers or prostitutes but all Fulani are being labelled murderers. He raised the seeming lack of even handedness even in condolence visits where an impression is being created that when Fulani are victims no one goes to condole them but when other ethnic groups are affected delegations are sent immediately. Finally he raised the issue of the Fulani murdered in Kajuru, and Mambilla and Numan in quick succession and demanded justice. He did not support retribution but stated clearly that the Fulani demanded justice. I was in that meeting. It was held at the presidential villa on 11 December, 2017. And we all heard the Emir. So everything he said in his Punch interview is true.

While the Governor of Taraba is quick to claim that the Emir of Kano’s numbers are “lies” , as chief security officer in the state he is yet to tell us his own “true” numbers. Governor Ishaku please tell us how many Fulani were killed in Mambilla in June? Do you even know? Did you bother to count? If you did, give us your own list. You cannot just say the Emir is lying when you have not offered your own version of the facts. Let us say the number was 100 not 800 for the sake of argument – or fifty or twenty. Has the government arrested or charged anyone for the killing of innocent civilians? This was not a conflict. It was murder. Militia youth attacked and looted and burnt communities killing defenceless women, children and the elderly.

Challenge

If Taraba State Government is disputing the figure, it should, instead of running to the press to cover its complicity, demand for the list submitted to the Vice-President. We challenge the state government to participate in a joint committee comprising of its representatives, members of the Fulani committee that visited the Vice-President and UN and ECOWAS representatives, and go on a verification exercise. That is the only way to establish if the claims of genocide are unfounded.

Anti-grazing law

The state government is also, through so-called anonymous media sources, claiming that the Emir of Kano supported its enactment of its anti-grazing law. The Emir has been consistent, both in public and private, in stating the obvious what all Fulani believe, i.e., ranching is a good goal that will eventually benefit the Fulani if properly planned and implemented. He reiterated this view in the PUNCH interview last Sunday.

When he discussed with the Governor of Taraba State, he told him to put on hold his intended anti-grazing legislation until the government has worked out a practical framework of implementation. He also advised that in view if the mass murder that had just taken place in Mambilla, the Governor should delay the public hearings on that Law until a process that carries all stake holders along is established. He gave this advice not just to the Governor but to the Deputy Governor Haruna Manu. He also advised the Sultan to speak to the Taraba Haouse of Assembly Speaker and make this appeal to him.

This should be the stand of every reasonable person like Governor Lalong who similarly advised the Benue State Governor beforehand. Governor Darius of Taraba refused to see reason in the Emir’s advice. On this conversation I am not, like the Taraba Government, going to refer to an anonymous source close to the Emir. I called the Emir myself and he told me exactly what he told the Governor and deputy governor. He also told me he repeated this advise at joint meetings of northern emirs and traditional rulers, at northern traditional rulers’ meetings and at several meetings held between northern traditional rulers and the Federal Government.

The Emir believes ranching is good for the herdsmen and their cattle and grazing reserves and ranches should be developed and the pastoralists gradually settles and their welfare, education and health catered for. But he has always opposed the approach of Benue and Taraba states which is hostile and aimed at alienating and isolating the Fulani rather than including and developing them into a harmonious part of a heterogeneous and vibrant region.

Communal Clash? No

I read CAN calling the Mambila genocide as communal clash. This is definitely contrary to what is public knowledge. Over what did the Fulani and Mambila tribe clashed. How did they clash?

What the world witnessed was a massacre of the Fulani families in their homes. They were not marauding herdsmen encroaching on farmlands. Not at all. They were living in their legitimately acquired lands for decades. The type of grazing they practice is what you may term ranching. So how do you describe the one-way, murderous aggression on innocent families belonging to one ethnic group by another as communal clash?

Well, the era of monopoly over the media by a section of our population is over. Thanks to modern means of communication, victims of ethnic cleansing in the country can also be heard. They may not have stupendous treasury money in their control like governors Ortom and Darius Ishaku to feed the hungry wolves of the Nigerian print and electronic media. The conscientious few among the media houses along with the social media are here offering opportunities for the victims to cry out and be heard instantly by the world.

The Fulani may be slow in response because they would like to ascertain all claims before going public. But when they come up with any statement, it is incontrovertible. It can only be denied but not rebutted. Nobody and no calamity is big enough to push them into lying as a people. Their pride both as Muslims and as an ethnic group cannot permit them to indulge in lies.

Conclusion

The Taraba State Government can tell the world how many people were killed and by who. As the chief security officer of the state, the Governor should tell the world how many suspects his government has arrested and taken to court. At least, we can remember that the scale of the killings were described by an eye witness general of the Nigerian army, the GOC of 3rd DIV, as the most horrendous he has ever witnessed among the various war scenes he has seen. Yet, CAN is claiming it to be a total of just 18 people – on both sides! �

The Fulani have come up with their discovery, presented it to the Federal Government and will soon make it public. We that presented the list to the Vice-President are challenging the Taraba State Government to go through the list and, if not satisfied, take up the challenge of verifying it jointly with us and representatives of the UN and ECOWAS. We believe we have a pretty good case of genocide to prove. Your Excellency, Governor Darius, please take up the challenge.

*Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde posted on this article on his Facebook wall on January 17, 2018.

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