The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Mohammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, yesterday, exonerated the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, of any culpability in the recent killings of farmers in some parts of the country by suspected Fulani herdsmen, but rather blamed the federal government and security agencies over the killings of farmers by Fulani herdsmen across the country, including Benue and Taraba states.
The Sultan spoke at the General Assembly of Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace, IDFP, in Abuja, where he expressed shock that the federal government and security agencies had done nothing about herdsmen bearing arms in the country, despite the series of attacks they had launched against communities in different parts of the country.
Sultan Abubakar III also berated those calling for the proscription of the group, challenged them to as well call for proscription of other Socio-ethnic organizations such as Afenifere, Ohaneze Ndigbo and Arewa Consultative Forum, among others.
He said: “Miyetti Allah doesn’t control any Fulani man. Calling for proscription of Miyetti Allah is equivalent to calling for the proscription of other ethnic organizations like Afenifere, ACF, Ohanaeze and others.
He said, “The organization was formed 32 years ago and these crises were not there. I am the patron and we have never asked Fulani herdsman to kill anybody.
“Any Fulani man caught killing is a criminal and should be treated as such. What are the security agencies doing? If they have failed, they should accept that they have failed.
“What is going on is not an ethnic problem; it’s not a religious problem, it’s an economic problem.”
On the way out, the Sultan, who advocated dialogue, said: “What we need is to sit down and dialogue…
As religious leaders, we have to be very careful what we say, because it carries weight; our followers listen to us very seriously.
“We must believe in one another, trust and love ourselves because that is what our two major religions advocate. We must continue to speak with one voice. We should not be labeling everybody a criminal because his brother is a criminal.
“People are saying; label Miyetti Allah a terrorist group. No, we are not terrorists and can’t join terrorism.”
Speaking further on the situation in Benue State, the Sultan said: “This thing didn’t start today. In the past eight years, I have been to Benue many times to discuss this issue.
“We had met for hours and reached agreements, yet nothing has been implemented. Why? The former governors of Benue are still alive and they know all these.
“Even the present governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, had written to me to come again with my peace mission, but we had not had the opportunity before this round of crisis. “We must come to the bottom of this issue. How come these Fulani men are carrying guns without the security men knowing?
“I keep on repeating it, things are not okay, but they are not as bad as they are made to look, especially in the social media. Let’s go round and speak to one another, not just staying in our comfort zones.’’