The Chairman, Muslim Council, Adamawa State, Alhaji Abubakar Magaji, says that the recent killings in Numan allegedly perpetrated by the Bachama militias were aimed at eliminating the Muslim-Fulani from the state
Why did you say that the recent bloody clash in Numan was not between herdsmen and farmers?
I came into that conclusion after my visit to the Numan General Hospital and I discovered that there were 45 children among the 55 corpses that were deposited at the mortuary after the incident. Only one, out of the remaining corpses was a man, the rest were young female adults and children below the age of 10.
So, that is why we described the unfortunate incident as genocide against the Muslim-Fulani. It is our strong belief that no one, in an attempt to carry out any form of revenge, will target innocent children for destruction. We also believe that the perpetrators were not Muslims, because no genuine Muslim will deliberately wage war against his fellow Muslim brothers and sisters.
Even, the dreaded Boko Haram sect did not do that. So, we are convinced that certainly, a certain group, which is not happy seeing the Muslims in the state, deliberately targeted us for elimination.
But the majority of the people in the state believe that the incident was a normal recurring clash between herdsmen and farmers, which turned bloody.
We don’t subscribe to that argument at all because there is no farmland in the area where the Muslim-Fulani are residing in Numan. There were also no crops where our cows are grazing since nobody cultivates farms there. Apart from this, there was no report that the Fulani encroached into the farms and destroyed crops. Any right-thinking person will agree with us that what happened in Numan was a premeditated killing because the perpetrators did not strike until all the male adults had left the community in search of pastures for their animals.
We were surprised to read in the newspapers that it was a clash between herdsmen and farmers. I don’t understand how there could be a clash between a group of people armed with guns and another group of innocent young women in company with their children.
Certainly, something has been going on secretly for a long time which was not known to even the security agents and the Fulani in that area.
What is your reaction to the warning of the Sultan of Sokoto that the Fulani’s patience and silence should not be misconstrued for weakness?
The Sultan had to come out with that statement because a series of unprovoked attacks against the Fulani-Muslims have been going on for a very long time without any definite attempt by the government to stop it.
The state government, whenever such incident occurred, would constitute administrative panels to unravel the cause but would not implement the reports of those probes.
The fact that there are no punitive measures against the perpetrators whenever such incidents occurred had over the years, emboldened the aggressors to carry out subsequent attacks. For instance, the Fulani, who suffered great losses during the Mambila killings, had yet to be compensated while nobody had also been arrested in connection with the incident. The security agents, after receiving reports from the victims, usually carry out thorough investigations and send reports to the Ministry of Justice but at the end of the day, nothing will happen.
The Sultan is the leader of the Muslim Umma in Nigeria and wherever these kinds of things happen, certainly they must have reported to him, and he knows what is happening all over the country, not just in Adamawa State alone. He certainly has his facts before he made his statement. I think his reason for speaking like that was to send a clear message to the state government that they must sit up and do what is right.
The Sultan said what happened in Numan will not go unpunished. Is this not a threat to peace?
No! I don’t think it’s a threat but rather to make the authorities concerned to sit up and do what they are expected to do. I am sure that the powerful statement from the Sultan will make the government to ensure justice. No right-thinking person will just sit down, fold his arms and continue to watch things going on like that. Maybe, after they are done with the Fulani, another tribe will be targeted for elimination. So, the government must do something very tangible to ensure justice so that we will have confidence in the system. The perpetrators must be brought to book and punished appropriately, to serve as a deterrent to others. Otherwise, such senseless incidents will continue to re-occur. Nigeria belongs to all of us and we have no other place to call our own country but here. It is appalling, a situation whereby a group of people, which has been residing in a place for over 100 years, will suddenly be ordered by another group to vacate their land.
But shouldn’t the sultan have also condemned Fulani’s attacks on farmers?
To the best of my knowledge, the Sultan usually comes out in strong terms to condemn all manners of clashes either between ethnic nationalities or religious groups. I believe the Sultan is a peace-loving leader and every right-thinking leader wants peace to reign not only in his domain but in the world in general because he cannot lead under a chaotic atmosphere.
Do you think that the Adamawa State Government will take a cue from the reactions that greeted the Numan killings and ensure that the perpetrators are punished this time round?
I believe that the state government, this round, will treat the incident with all the seriousness it deserves because everybody knows that such reckless killings should not be allowed to continue. Any leader, who fails to do something drastic in this kind of a situation, will not be leaving a worthy legacy behind after his tenure.
NB: THIS ARTICLE WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE PUNCH NEWSPAPER