Professor Charles Adisa
Startling research findings on Fulani herdsmen
The Result of the Research about Fulani herdsmen.
most significant problem that African nations face is lack of
leadership. Normally, Leadership should be an intentional conscious
effort to attend to the people’s needs and aspirations. But in Africa,
even though many of those that are thrust into the position of
leadership mean well, they lack the capacity to lead and meet the
people/s hopes and aspirations. Apart from lack of adequate preparation
for leadership, one other notable factor that had inhibited good
leadership among African leaders is the seemingly non-existent
structures for research and information management in the society.
Hence, many well-meaning leaders often do not have the requisite
information needed for a thorough appraisal and resolution of problems
as they arise.
A clear example is the recent terrorist attack in
Enugu State of Nigeria and the obvious ignorance of the State
Leadership on the modus operandi of the Fulani Herdsmen which led to
poor leadership decisions. For a long time, the Nigerian state has been
under siege by Fulani herdsmen terrorists operating under a predictable
pattern of reconnaissance, attack and withdrawal, leading to many deaths
and social dislocations. Since January 2016, there has been documented
deaths of approximately 1000 Nigerians from across the middle belt, the
South-south, and Southeastern parts of the country from these
coordinated Fulani herdsmen attacks. The Fulani herdsmen are credited
with destabilizing the city of Jos, a once tourist destination; and
their history of mayhem extend beyond the borders of the Nigerian state.
They are also the major actors/catalyst to recent conflicts in the
Central African Republic. Armed with adequate information about these
murderous group, one would have expected the Governors in the
Southeastern states, especially those whose citizens were murdered in
cold blood by these terrorists to come out with a strong condemnation of
the Fulani herdsmen carnage and unify towards a common cause solution.
On the contrary, events in the past weeks only showed confused state
executives, who do not even understand the magnitude of the problem at
In fairness to these Governors, some of them mostly
followed the normal state security protocol in responding to this
abnormality, Hence, the failure to protect the citizens was the
liability of the Federal Government of Nigeria and its armed forces.
Though we do not excuse the shabby response of these Governors to the
Fulani Herdsmen tragedy, we are inclined to give them a slack because to
solve a problem, one needs to first understand the problem. The
Governors did not understand the problem. Most Nigerians and
international bodies do not understand the Fulani herdsmen problem and
we at CACLD did not initially. We therefore dispatched a fact finding
team to the Southeastern part of the country to unravel the intricacies
and complexities of the Fulani terrorist group; a group rated as the
fourth most dangerous by respected international conflict organizations
(According to the Global Terrorism Index 2015 report; "Fulani militants"
killed 1,229 people in 2014 -- up from 63 in 2013, Making them the
"fourth most deadly terrorist group").
Our fact finding team
visited “Ama Hausa and Garki” camps in both Enugu and Abia States. They
also interviewed neighbors from the local communities living within and
around the Hausa communities in both states. Both the Northerners and
the local community were very open and volunteered valuable information
to our team. There seems to be a willingness and eagerness for the
violence to end. Below, we will present our findings in numbered points.
The Fulani herdsmen terrorists are Fulanis but mostly non-Nigerians:
This may come as a surprise to most of us. About ten percent of the
terrorists are Nigerians and they live within the Hausa Fulani
communities in Ama-Hausa and Garki’s in the South East and South-south
2. The Fulani Herdsmen terrorists do not own cattle:
This is another revelation that may come as a surprise to many. Fulani
herdsmen killers’ major job description is just to kill. They do not own
any cattle. Most of them are employed by the cattle owners as “security
men” whose job is strictly to protect the cattle. They do not however
follow the cattle around, but move in separate vehicles along a defined
route within the states where cattle are being reared.
Ama-Hausas and Garkis harbor 80% of the Fulani herdsmen killers. This is
a very important revelation. The Garkis are mostly Hausas and other
minorities from the north, but within them, they Fulani herdsmen killers
reside. The northerners were able to show us these Fulani herdsmen
“security personnel” and they were dressed differently from the normal
Northern Nigerians within these settlements. They were young, less
religious, most of them use drugs, and consume alcohol. A majority of
these herdsmen terrorists are migrants from Chad, Niger, and other
Fulani enclaves outside the Nigerian state. A small percentage of these
Fulani youths are Nigerians born in the states where they reside. They
are the ones vested with the responsibility of leading these Fulanis on
their regular rampage; serving as compasses to the blood-hungry
4. The Fulani herdsmen that accompany cattle from
the North to the South per season do not own cattle. This is another
surprise coming out from the investigation. The cattle are owned by more
prominent Fulani leaders in the country. Most Nigerian Fulanis are no
longer migratory herdsmen, but are either Emirs, Sultans, heads of
parastatals, oil barons, Imams, Christian Pastors, Governors, Federal
Reps, and Senators. However, they still maintain their cultural
ownership of cattle. These wealthy Nigerians increase their wealth
astronomically through cattle rearing by using their not well off
brothers from outside Nigeria to rear these cattle. Instead of investing
in ranches and buying of grasses from the South, they chose the cheaper
alternative of having their kinsmen, imported from outside the country,
take these cattle from the north to south seasonally; using the entire
Nigerian space as their “grass kingdom”. These cattle, in turn, destroy
farms in their path, rendering farmers economically bankrupt to further
enrich the wealthy Fulani “remote herders”.
For clarity sake, let us present the breakdown of Fulani people in Nigeria as we deduced from our investigation.
There are about 5 million Fulani people in Nigeria making them one of the smallest ethnic group in the country.
of the 5 million Fulani people, only about 3 million of them are
Nigerians. The remaining 2 million come from outside the country and are
first generation immigrants.
About 60 percent of the Fulanis in
Nigeria are governors, Pastors, Imams, Emirs, Sultan, House of Rep
members, Importers, Exporters, Ministers, Oil well owners, lecturers,
Vice Chancellors, Ministers, and Senators etc. In a nutshell, the Fulani
control all sectors of the northern economy. These rich Fulani’s own
all the cattle being reared in Nigeria.
The remaining 40 percent of
Fulanis come from outside the country. These are the poor and peasant
Fulanis. These immigrant Fulani’s are mostly in charge of the cattle
owned by the Bourgeois Fulani. Because the Fulani’s have the highest
income per capita in the Nigerian state (Fulani’s who are Nigerians),
they constantly need to import their poor brothers and sisters from
outside the country to increase their population (the Fulani’s always
either marry into rich families or they would marry only Fulani to
maintain their pure race) and to help with menial jobs.
and Ama-Hausa settlements all over the country, there exist a few
Nigerian Fulanis (some are born in these states) who coordinate the
cattle business. These Fulanis either help manage family cattle or are
just contracted middlemen in charge of the business on behalf of various
millionaire cattle owners. They themselves are also millionaires. Under
these middlemen are about a group of 20 to 40 Fulani boys within the
ages of 20 and 35. These are the unofficial Fulani herdsmen security
team whose job is to protect the Fulani herdsmen cattle.
there is a group of Fulani herdsmen who rear the cattle from the north
to the south. These are at the bottom of the Fulani Herdsmen ladder.
Some of them do not even know how to speak English and are so poor that
they are paid just a little amount of money for their job. These
herdsmen do not carry guns. They only carry arrows and machetes to help
them navigate the bushes on their way down to the South.
6. Fulani Herdsmen Attack.
learned from the surrounding communities and from some of the Hausa
elders about what constitutes a Fulani herdsmen attack. According to
information we received, when there is a disagreement between host
communities, or between herdsmen and farmers, the Fulani herdsmen who
accompany the cattle will locate the nearest Fulani settlement and if
there is none, they will locate the nearest Garki or Ama Hausa. When
they arrive, they will narrate their story. The Fulani (Nigerian
middlemen) cattle managers will notify their top Fulani Herdsmen which
in this case, include governors (like El Rufai) and other top Fulani
Bourgeois who own the cattle. A decision will be made about whether
there should be an attack or not on the said village or host community.
If an attack is sanctioned, then modalities will be mapped out and a
date will be chosen for the attack. Most times, Fulani herdsmen in the
military and police are notified and everyone sends a representative.
Neighboring settlements sends out representatives and arms cache are
opened and arms are distributed to the participants. The major
participants are the 20 to 40 Fulani herdsmen who reside in the Garkis
and Ama Hausas. These are the Fulani warriors whose job is to kill.
an attack, every Fulani person in the area knows there will be an
attack and all will contribute to make sure it goes on successfully.
Fulanis in the higher levels of the military will ensure all commands
under them stand down, and the top Fulani police officers will do the
same. The road is then clear for the Fulani herdsmen to carry their
Many of those who interacted with us
suggested solutions that are very interesting. Most of the northern
Hausas and the local communities suggested a ban on grazing in the
affected states. A total ban would be the only way to solve this
problem. Some argued that with the Fulani’s nature of encroaching on
other people’s land and territories, any attempt to give them land would
aggravate the problem and not solve it.
Most villagers from
Abia State suggested that these cattle be penned in the north while
government releases money for people in the South to cut grasses,
process the grass, and send to the north. This is the practice all over
the world. They indicated that any attempt to take their lands and give
to the Fulani would definitely result to a civil war.
the solution is very simple; ban grazing, establish ranches for the
cattle in the north, pay the southerners to harvest grass and send to
the north. With this, everyone would be pleased with the outcome. This
solution is expected to generate 1 million jobs in the South and about
500,000 jobs in the North. Also Fulani herdsmen terror will be totally
Next time when we talk about a
herdsmen attack, we must understand that the attack was not carried out
by the herdsmen you see escorting cattle on the roads and bushes. These
attacks are well coordinated and sometimes involves the approval of
senators and influential men in Abuja. Even our president Mohammed
Buhari has a herd of cattle and hence is a Fulani herdsman,
corroborating the information we received from respondents on ground.
Fulani herdsmen attacks involves all Fulani ethnic members in Nigeria.
Most times, these attacks happen only because “respectable men” sanction
Issued by the News Team of Chinua Achebe Center for Leadership and Development
shared as received."