The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has described as “diversionary, highly irresponsible, irrational and misplaced” the idea muted by the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, that the solution to the incessant invasions of farm lands and communities across the country by armed Fulani herdsmen is the establishment of a Pastoralism Commission, News Express reports.
Malami (SAN) had last Tuesday called for the establishment of a ‘pastoralism commission’ as well as a community-oriented approach in diffusing and eliminating the menace that has retarded economic development and created wide-spread insecurity.
Malami said addressing the farmer-herder crisis from purely theoretical perspectives often devoid of reality and without synchronization with the needs and aspirations of the involved stakeholders is not only counter-productive, but inimical to the emergence and sustenance of a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria.
The Minister, who was speaking as a special guest of honour at the Peace, Unity and Security Lecture Series 2021 held in Abuja where he was represented by his Media Aide, Dr Umar Gwandu, said for peaceful coexistence in the country, there is need for strict adherence to the rule of law, respecting the sanctity of the fundamental human rights in all ramifications.
He recommended the setting up of regulated grazing reserves to replace the ‘Burtali’ or ‘Hurumi’ pastoral system as well as intensive enlightenment to livestock breeders on the need for sedentary farming and transhumance agriculture as a complimentary economic process to nomadic farming.
However, in a statement on Sunday, HURIWA however strongly disagreed with the Federal Attorney General whom it accused of refusing to prosecute or ensure that all the terrorists and armed Fulani herdsmen who were accused of destroying farms of communities are prosecuted and punished since the year 2015.
The rights group said the Minister has unambiguously displayed elements and character of tribal and religious loyalties to his primordial and ethno-religious affinities as a Fulani born lawyer and politician rather than to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 as amended.
The rights group said the Justice Minister is simply chasing shadows and attempting to deceive Nigerians by veering off into the arena of embarking on a wild voyage of discovery as shown by his suggestion for the setting up of a pastoralists commission as a solution to the terrorism of armed Fulani herdsmen instead of enforcing the laws of Nigeria to punish persons who wield several weapons of mass destruction and have unleashed bloody violence all around the country, including Benue, Plateau, Southern Kaduna, Enugu and parts of Imo States.
The rights group wondered why the Justice Minister is pampering armed Fulani herdsmen even after President Muhammadu Buhari publicly directed their prosecution?
“If we may ask the Minister of Justice, do we set up a commission for armed robbers and drug peddlers so Nigeria can eradicate armed robbery and drug trafficking? This proposition of the Justice Minister is meaningless and senseless and is a show of insensitivity to the feelings of the thousands of victims of the different armed Fulani invasions and violence in Nigeria,” the group noted.
HURIWA in the statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said: “We must say that the physical conflict of ethnicities flaring up everywhere must be extinguished by the President, the governors and all elected office holders whose primary constitutional duty as spelt out in section 14 (2) (b)of the Nigerian Constitution is to ensure the security of lives and property of all citizens. The grund norm says “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.
“We call on Mr. President to take immediate, comprehensive but transparent but lawful measures to bring all kinds of conflicts of nationalities to an end. We had yesterday blamed the rise in these inter-ethnic conflicts on the apparent double standards of the central government.
“However, our attention has been called to the position that it is inaccurate to locate the blame squarely on the desk of President Muhammadu Buhari. We accept this key point of correction.
“We have also been asked by some of our prominent members to correct the impression that there is a deliberate intention of Mr. President to refuse to prosecute armed Fulani herdsmen and that there is no empirical data to believe that there is an agenda to alienate any ethno religious nationalities in the redistribution of National offices. We are glad to hear this second opinion and we respect it.
“However, we will appeal to Mr. President to always respect equity and equality of rights in all his official conducts even as we call on him to either suspend or query his Federal Attorney General and Minster of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN) who even in writing told us that arrested armed Fulani herdsmen who were hitherto paraded by the Nigerian Police here in Abuja will not be prosecuted because there is no case file.
“The Minister of Justice told us in a response to our request that all the paraded armed Fulani herdsmen since 2015 must be prosecuted.
“The impression conveyed by the Justice Minister is that a set of suspects are above the law only because of their ethnicity. This perception is damaging to the image of the government. “It is totally irregular, unconstitutional and absolutely illegal and we call on President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to order the AGF explicitly to either carry out the order to prosecute offenders or be dismissed from public office.
“We hereby applaud the public statement of President Muhammadu Buhari in which he directed that armed Fulani herdsmen and indeed all criminals must be made to face the full weight of the law.
“The ball is in the courts of the Justice Ministry to do the needful and for the police to enforce the law by building up strong case against all criminals. These prosecutorial activities must be transparent and accountable,” the rights group said.
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