- Ten Fulani Jihadists will go for one Niger Delta Soul, MEND warns
- Police Assure Deltans of Safety
- Group expresses suspicion faceless ‘Jihadist’ may be armed group from S/East
As the 72-hour ultimatum issued by a faceless group, the ‘Fulani Jihadists’ to Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa to pull out of the Asaba Declaration by the Southern Governors which placed a total ban on open grazing recently expires in 24 hours from now, a militant group from the Niger Delta, the Movement for the Emancipation and Defence of the Niger Delta, (MEND) has warned that it will be fire for fire, should the ‘Jihadists’ make good their threat, adding that it would exterminate 10 Fulanis for one Niger Deltan soul.
Also, rising from their meeting on Monday at Otor Udu, in Udu Local Government Area of Delta State, the Urhobo Youth Leaders Association, (UYLA) in a statement signed by the Acting President of the group, Chief Anthony Onoriode Ofoni, vowed to enforce the ban on open grazing declaration in Delta Central, if the ‘Fulani Jihadists’ who promised to attack the State in 72 hours, fail to vacate farmlands and forests in Delta Central within the next 48 hours.
It would be recalled that an unsigned letter purportedly written by the ‘Fulani Jihadist’ recently surfaced in some parts of Delta State, particularly in the State capital, Asaba, Agbor and some other towns, warning the State governor to back out of the ban on open grazing, agreed on by the 17 Southern States about two months ago.
The letter which was titled: “Fulani Jihadist Warning: An Open Message of 2 Paragraphs To Delta State”, reads: “This is to inform Delta State that the Fulanis of Usman Dan Fodio leadership shall do everything it can to uphold the legacy of our heritage of open grazing, for we are nomadic people from origination and shall never negotiate the ownership of Nigeria and West Africa and sub-Sahara.
“We, hereby, ask the governor of Delta State to immediately withdraw his earlier stand on ban of open grazing in 17 regions in not less than 72 hours from the above date and also withdraw his position as the leading voice of the governors, even before the hosting of the South-South, South-East and South-South governors meeting in Asaba.
“Failure to adhere to this demand for being the host of the 17 governors, Delta State, most likely the city of Asaba and Agbor, shall encounter severe consequences than that of Bornu, Kebbi, Kastina, Kaduna, Enugu, Benue, Oyo and many more that will not respect the Fulani’s heritage.
“We take responsibility for the detonated explosive uncovered in the state secretariat, which should serve as warning to the Delta State government for what is to come, should the governor fail to abide by our demand.
“We advise all Fulanis and northerners, including the security personnel, to leave Delta State as soon as possible for the wind of our action is now present in the land. For failure of the governor to adhere to our call, this shall leave us with no choice.”
Reacting to the threat, the Movement for the Emancipation and the Defence of the Niger Delta, MEND, warned that should the terrorists make good their threat in 72 hours, not only that Fulanis will cease to exit in the Niger Delta, oil facilities linked to Fulanis will be attacked. According to the group, the lives of 10 Fulanis will compensate for the loss of one Niger Deltan.
“The attention of the Movement for the Emancipation and the Defence of the Niger Delta” has been brought to the threat of some Fulani terrorists who have given a 3 days warning to the Governor of Delta State because of his support for the ban of open grazing across the Southern State. We also saw your taking responsibility for an explosion at the Secretariat in Asaba.
“We are warning that if your threat is made to come to fulfillment, No Fulani Fulani will ever exist across the Niger Delta and all oil facilities linked to a Fulani will be brought down. If one soul is lost, Ten Fulani souls will pay for it. If one Facility is destroyed, Ten Fulani facilities will be destroyed. We will respond proportionately ten times whatever you give, the corresponding response will not be limited to the Delta, It may be with your politicians or with your rulers.
“We will launch three rocket launchers and ballistic missiles at any facility of our choice as a warning in seven days if you make bold your threats.
“We don’t make cheap our threats. We have shutdown the country and we can at anytime shut you down. We are the Niger Delta, We stand for the interest of the Niger Delta and we will not allow any coward threaten us. We fight without running”, the group said.
On its part, the Urhobo youth body, UYL, has issued a 48-hour quit notice to all Fulani Jihadists to immediately stop open grazing in Urhobo land, adding that they should vacate the farmlands and forests in Delta Central Senatorial District.
The group called on all Urhobo youths in the 24 kingdoms of Delta Central to urgently mobilize and move into farmlands and forest in the area to evict all the herdsmen if they fail to leave after the 48 hours ultimatum.
“This is to inform the Fulanis of Usman dan fodio leadership that after 48 hours, open grazing of cattle by nomadic people will be forbidden in Delta Central Senatorial District. The safety of herdsmen and their cattle still in the region after the expiration of the notice will no longer be guaranteed because they have sacked some of our communities in Uwheru and killed many Abraka farmers and we viewed the threat as a big insult on all Deltans”, the statement read.
Reacting to the circulated unsigned threat letter which The New Diplomat learnt was pasted at the premises of Living Faith Bible Church (aka Winners Chapel), Infant Jesus Road in Asaba and other places in Asaba, the Delta State Police Command called for calm urging Deltans to disregard the threat.
According to the statement issued by the State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Bright Edafe, he assured that operatives of the Command were in high alert to prevent such attacks, urging Deltans that there was no need to panic.
The statement further assured that the Command had drafted undercover police operatives to prevent any attack by any group whatsoever.
“The attention of the Command has been drawn to a recent publication making rounds purportedly published by the fulani’s of Usman dan fodio leadership tagged “FULANI JIHADIST WARNINGS” and pasted in various locations round Asaba and Agbor to be precise.
“The command under the watch of CP Ari Muhammed Ali, FCIA, psc+ who is ever committed in its responsibility of providing security for all Deltans, is assuring members of the public to ignore the said publication which must have been pasted by miscreants with the aim of creating panic in the state.
“All modalities have been put in place to forestall any of such occurrence, all residents are advice to go about their lawful businesses without fear or panic.
“Undercover police operatives have been deployed across the state for the purpose of gathering intelligence. Other proactive measures have been put in place by the command.
“Members of the public are also urged to continue to partner with the police, by providing useful information that will help in policing the state”, the statement read.
Meanwhile, a cross section of persons who spoke to The New Diplomat expressed doubts if the threat letter actually emanated from a so-called “Fulani Jihadist”.
Most people who spoke, were of the view that the brain behind the threat letter may likely be from those who have been terrorizing the South Eastern States of the country and who have become so vicious in their criminal activities in recent times.
“I do not believe the letter was issued by one faceless Fulani group in the Niger Delta. I might be wrong but I feel it is the handiwork of those who have been attacking police formations, facilities and prisons in the South East.
“I think they just want to mask their identities to divert security and public attention. They are the same people who have been wreaking havoc in the South East. They have made one or two attempts to cross River, Niger to Delta State in recent times. I believe they are behind the threat letter”, an Asaba based community leader told The New Diplomat in confidence.
Chukwudi Mbaino, a retired police officer, who spoke to the The New Diplomat on phone, opined that if the threat letter actually emanated from Fulani Jihad gang, then it implies they may have been emboldened by the import of the remarks of President Muhammadu Buhari in response to his interview with Arise Television recently.
Buhari had, in the interview with Arise Television, last week, promised to retrace and recover cattle routes and grazing reserves across the country by calling for a federal gazette which laid down grazing routes and reserves for herdsmen. According to him, the country would go back to the practice of the First Republic to limit herdsmen to areas designated for them, adding that he had directed the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Malami to sort out the gazette which delineated grazing routes in all parts of the country in the First Republic.
He said: “What I did was to ask him (Malami) to go and dig the gazette of the First Republic when people were obeying laws. There were cattle routes and grazing areas. Cattle routes were for when they (herdsmen) were moving up country, north to south or east to west. They had to go through there.
“I had asked for the Gazette to make sure that those who encroached on these cattle routes and grazing areas are dispossessed and dragged to bring some order back into the cattle rearing.”
“The problem is trying to understand the culture of the cattle rearers. There is a cultural thing between the Tiv and the Fulani. So, the governor of Benue State says I’m not disciplining the cattle rearers because I’m one of them. I cannot refuse and say I’m not one of them. But he is being very unfair to me. I told him that the Nigerian cattle rearers will not carry anything more than a stick, sometimes with a machete to cut some trees to give the cattle. Those sophisticated ones, they are going about with Ak-47.
“So from all the Central areas, people rush to Nigeria, you know, and Fulani from Mauritania or from Central Africa look the same. So, they think that they are Nigerians and I assure you that we are trying to resuscitate these cattle routes and grazing areas and make them accountable.”
However, governors of Delta, Ondo, Cross River, Enugu, Benue and Akwa Ibom States have faulted President Buhari’s claim on open grazing law.
Reacting to the President’s claim, the Delta State governor, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa who doubles as the chairman of South-South Governors’ Forum, said that as of 1963 when such grazing routes and reserve law was gazetted, the present Delta State had not been created and so, it cannot be applicable to the State.
Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Olise Ifeajika, the governor said: “Yes, Mr. President directed the AGF to dig out a gazette of 1963 which marked out cattle routes across the country.
“Delta State has no such law because the 1963 gazette he talked about does not exist in the state.”
He however assured that the 17 governors of the South stand by the Asaba Declaration on the ban on open grazing in the Southern part of the country. “We stand by our resolutions”, he said.
On his part, the governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Douye Diri has said that the state government’s implementation of the Asaba Declaration of the Ban on Open Grazing is backed by law, just as he said that Bayelsa is a riverine state that has no grazing reserve.
The governor who stated this in a statewide broadcast on Democracy Day, June 12, noted that the President’s claim was not applicable to Bayelsa State because it has no grazing routes as the people are mainly fishermen.
In exercise of the State anti-grazing law, the government last week seized 34 cows for breaching the state’s ban on open grazing and pledged to enforce the law to the letter.