By Desola Albert,
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Mohammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, Thursday, criticized the federal government and security agencies over the killings of farmers by criminal herdsmen in the country while expressing his shock that they have done nothing about herdsmen bearing arms despite the series of attacks they had launched against communities in Nigeria.
While speaking at the General Assembly of the Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace (IDFP) in Abuja, Sultan Abubakar III disclosed that he is the Grand Patron of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN). He, however, exonerated the association of any culpability in the recent killings of farmers in states like Benue and Taraba by suspected herdsmen, attributing the massacre of innocent lives instead to the handiwork of some criminal elements.
Noting that any Fulani man bearing arms and ammunition is not a member of Miyetti Allah, Sultan Abubakar charged the government to urgently fish out the perpetrators of the heinous crimes and prosecute them.
“How is it possible for Fulani to attack settlements or communities to carry out killings of innocent people, destroy property and disappear without trace?
“Miyetti Allah was formed 32 years ago and these crises were not there. I am the patron and we have never asked any Fulani herdsman to kill anybody. Any Fulani man caught killings is a criminal and should be treated as such,” Sultan Abubakar said.
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For those calling Miyetti Allah a group of terrorists and calling for its proscription, the Sultan explained the group was never a criminal organization, insisting that those who want the group proscribed should as well be calling for the proscription of other socio-ethnic organizations like the Afenifere, Ohanaeze, Ndigbo and Arewa Consultative Forum among others.
“What are the security agencies doing? If they have failed, they should accept that they have failed. What is going on is not an ethnic problem. It’s not a religious problem. It’s an economic problem,” the Sultan said.
In his address, the President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Dr. Samson Ayokunle, accused some religious leaders in the country of being insincere while commenting on the killings going on in the country.
The CAN President who was represented by the Bishop of Yola, Bishop Stephen Mansa, said religious leaders must condemn evil in the country but wondered about the sincerity of many of them on the matter.
“Christians at all levels believe in peace. We’re seated here today as religious leaders but how sincere are we in what we say? This is the time for us to speak with one voice. But my concern is whether we are sincere in what we are saying.
“We religious leaders, we deceive people a lot. We say one thing when we have another thing in mind. Our tribal and religious affiliations have overshadowed our Nigerianness.
“The problem is that we keep mute once a person is killed if he is not a member of our faith. Another thing is that we identify with people of our faith even when the person is doing the wrong thing.
“We all know that President Buhari is not handling the security situation in the country well but certain persons are not talking, maybe because he is a Muslim. And when Jonathan was there, some Christian leaders kept quiet because he’s a Christian,” the Bishop said.
While speaking before the assembly dispersed, the Archbishop of Abuja Catholic Dioceses, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, assured Nigerians that the problem of insecurity threatening the soul of the nation could be solved if only Nigerians learn to build trust in one another.
“We shouldn’t be praying for peace, when, in the real sense, we are the ones causing crises everywhere. Talking for peace will give peace if there is truth. So, we must learn to build trust, trusting one another. We must join hands to do what is right,” Onaiyekan said.