matters in public.
Luckily, I am not a politician and hence have no need to bepolitically correct.
You cannot ban Fulani herdsmen from any state in Nigeria,contrary to popular views. It is also not true that Ekiti state governor and legislature banned Fulani herdsmen from coming to
their state. Such a state law will be null and void as our constitution guarantees freedom of movement to all Nigerians within Nigeria.
You cannot make state laws against constitutional provisions and any law made by state or National Assembly that is against our constitution is null and void to the extent that it is against our
The same law that permits an Igbo man to travel to, live, do business and prosper in Lagos or Kano is also the same law that protects the right of the herdsman to move from Daura to Umuahia with his family and cows.
There are two major challenges with the activities of Fulani herdsmen in the south and southeast in particular.
1. Fulani herdsmen destroy farms and mess up roads with their cattle.
2. They openly carry assault weapons which they use to murder people.
The same fundamental law that permits the Fulani herdsman to move freely within Nigeria also permits the Abakiliki farmer to own properties including farmlands. The herdsmen have no right,
under our laws. to destroy the properties of others, including farm lands. It is clearly written in our constitution and no state legislature needs to make laws on that. Just like no farmer has
the right to destroy the property of the herdsman, including his cow.
Also, our laws does not permit any Nigerian (apart from security agents) to carry assault weapons about from place to place. Just like no law in Nigeria permits anyone to kill another person for
any reason at all.
There are existing state and federal laws against negatively impacting traffic or messing up streets with cattle. Any state that does not have comprehensive enough laws on that should feel free to make such laws, including defining how animals should be transported or kept within its boundaries.
Such laws on animal husbandry should take care of all animals, including goats, chickens, dogs, cows etc.
To me, that is the law south east state legislators should make. A law regulating animal husbandry with very stiff sanctions for non compliance. For instance, you can say that if animals belonging
to anyone destroys a farmland the person is liable to pay back the full value plus 1 year imprisonment.
All other issues related to herdsmen activities can be dealt with
under existing laws. If they kill someone our laws says govt
should kill them after trial. No need for any new law.
Finally, I must point out the real issue with the menace of Fulani herdsmen. It is the absence of political will by the federal authorities and their agents to enforce existing laws as it affects
herdsmen activities. Rather than enforce the law, our securityagents are seemingly aiding and abetting the commission of crimes by the herdsmen.
If soldiers or policemen see me carrying AK 47 or even wearing military fatigues or camouflage they will immediately disarm, arrest and try me for illegal possession of arms and impersonation of officers. Why then are they not arresting armed Fulani herdsmen?
The only plausible answer, to me, is that there are powerful people that reprimand or punish security agents for doing their jobs with regards to armed Fulani herdsmen. It is that powerful cabal that is responsible for the negative activities of Fulani herdsmen and the attendant tensions.
What bothers many southerners is the motive behind making murderous elements among the herdsmen untouchable by security agents.
It bothers me too and in my mind that change should begin with our President.
The right order given to all security agents with regards to Fulani herdsmen will solve more problems than duplicating laws across our states when existing laws can solve the problem. Our
governors have near zero control of federal security agents and even after making unnecessary state laws you will still need federal security agents to enforce those laws.
Change begins with Mr President and Commander in Chief.
John Okiyi Kalu Writes From Umuahia.