The Fulani herdsmen, who have reportedly been wreaking havoc on farms nationwide, seem to be different from those long familiar to local communities.
This is the belief of Alhaji Suleiman Abimaje, the Onu and District head of Abejukolo, in the Omala Local Government Area of Kogi State.
“Even as I talk to you now,” he declared, “the Fulani are in our farm. But these Fulani aren’t the same as the ones we’ve known for ages. They look like aliens.”
Speaking with The Guardian during a courtesy call on him Tuesday, the Onu observed that, for one thing, the cattle of the interlopers are different.
“The cows don’t have horns,” he said, “whereas those of their predecessors did. I don’t know where these Fulani come from. But they may not be Nigerians.”
Another difference, he noted, is that the old Fulani were peaceful. “But the ones who have been coming here over the past four years are trouble makers.” Abimaje said at least three people had complained to him that morning that the Fulani were encroaching on their farms.
He said further, that when these situations arise, his customary advice is for farmers to register their complaints with the police. “They never take permission to enter our communities,” the Onu lamented, “and their leaders don’t come close to or even communicate with us.
“Even so, we cannot approach them, because some are armed with AK47 rifles, which only the armed forces are supposed to have.” A third distinction, which the district head emphasised, is that the old Fulani were few in number, while the current marauders travel in great bands.
“We don’t know where they are coming from,” he said. “They arrive during the dry season and go to our farms. They don’t go into the bush. Nor do they consult anybody. You just see them in your farm. And if you say anything, they’ll bring you down with their guns.”
When farmers report an incursion, Abimaje said, the police usually rush to the scene. But the intruders, being very mobile, would have fled the area. Suleiman Abdulrahman, scientific officer at the Centre for Atmospheric Research (in nearby Anyigba), added his perspective, as a
He said the interlopers could be arriving from any number of locales, because there are “many tribes and character-types” among his people. “You know,” Abdulrahman, averred, “every society is morally diverse. There are both decent individuals and criminals. The Fulani community is no different.” Aside attacking villages, he said some cattle Fulani even attack each other. “They steal cows from each other’s communities.”