Events unfolded last week in Kafanchan, a well-known railway town in southern Kaduna, which would have turned out rather catastrophic if not because things were nipped in the bud. Southern Kaduna has been under Fulani onslaught for a while now. Some forty or so Fulani were apprehended in the town by security operatives with a variety of arms, such as AK47 and the likes, and a handsome amount of ammunition.
News quickly spread and many angry youths thronged the spot where these suspects were being held and demanded that they be handed over to them, by now an irate lot. Of course they were out to mete jungle justice on the arrested Fulani. But the military, as expected and rightly so too, would not hand them over. A serious altercation was by then brewing as the locals became insistent and the military stood their ground. Things began to get out of hand and the security operatives began to shoot into the air to disperse the mob, bent on their intent. Whether or not the vertical shots were having the desired effect is not clear, but a couple of shots turned horizontal with some persons felled and one reported dead.
The mob dispersed but there was a sense that all was not over, therefore, a twenty-four hour curfew was slammed on the town. By the very following morning, it was scaled down to fourteen hours, 4pm to 6am, so as to allow especially those young ones writing their WAEC school cert examinations to carry on.
The arrested Fulani have since been brought to the headquarters of the state police command in Kaduna. But in a rather interesting twist, Miyetti Allah, the pan-Fulani socio-cultural association, came out with a statement that those brothers of theirs arrested in trucks at Kafanchan were actually hunters on their way on a hunting expedition. We shall return to this.
It is rather sad that security operatives would arrest anybody and civilians will insist on taking over custody of such a person for whatever reason outside the decision of a competent court of law much less to want to dispense their own kind of justice. It never happens in any civilized clime and for it to happen here speaks volumes of what our society has turned into. Derisive as the actions of the Kafanchan locals are, it is necessary to interrogate their motives. These locals claim that people, whom they continually allege to have attacked them in those parts of the state, have severally been arrested with arms and ammunition, and even right in the act, only to be released without justice seen to be duly done. These locals claim to know some of these persons so arrested and released.
Infact they claim to have either helped the security operatives in arresting some or even done some of the arrests themselves and handed to the security people only to hear nothing of their cooperation with the state or for such persons to be brazenly released. Frustration is bound to set in. Confidence, whatever modicum of it that remains, in the state and its organs is bound to deplete. People are bound to resort to self-help. Infact people are bound to even antagonize the state and its agencies, which is exactly what we have seen play out in Kafanchan last week.
The Nigerian state must walk to talk. Nigerians keep hearing “we are on top of the situation” yet they are decimated in their hundreds every other day with the perceived complicity of even the systems put in place to protect them. Self preservation is a natural human instinct to which people will resort.
Back to the claim by Miyetti allah that those arrested were on a hunting expedition: it is quite interesting that hunters now use sophisticated and lethal weapon like AK-47 for hunting. Hunting at that scale among Fulani is also novel! The group’s response to the security raid in Laduga, in Ikulu land, in the same southern Kaduna is also curious and probably even telling. One is tempted wonder: so, Miyetti Allah knows about the movement and motives of every Fulani person and group in Nigeria!
Regardless of claims and counter claims, rule of law remains the only way out for Nigeria. In as much as some persons or group of persons continue to subvert the law, Nigeria continues to inch to the precipice. That is the challenge that the President of this country much take up inspite of himself and his ambitions. Justice must be done. Justice must be seen to be done. Otherwise, Nigerians may as well conclude that this government is out to pontificate the decimation of this country.