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‘Grazing reserves is like robbing Peter to pay Paul’

By Saxone Akhaine, Northern
05 November 2016   |   12:24 am
President of Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), Mr. Solomon Kaptain Musa, spoke on the attack and killings in the southern part of Kaduna State by suspected Fulani herdsmen, tracing the ceasefire agreement endorsed....
Solomon Kaptain Musa,

Solomon Kaptain Musa,

President of Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), Mr. Solomon Kaptain Musa, spoke on the attack and killings in the southern part of Kaduna State by suspected Fulani herdsmen, tracing the ceasefire agreement endorsed by traditional rulers in the area, leaders of the herdsmen, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria and top military and Police officers and explained why peace has eluded the area.

Frequent attacks on Godogodo and other parts of Southern Kaduna by suspected armed Fulani herdsmen, which led to loss of lives and properties, prompted the state government to initiate moves at maintaining peace among the traditional rulers, leaders of the herdsmen and other stakeholders. What is your take on this?
I heard that there was a peace agreement and I watched it on television, just like any other person.  I am not aware that we have combatants. I am aware of the fact that some people are being attacked. I am aware that some people are not at war; they are at peace and they are being attacked.

You can only have ceasefire between two people fighting or two groups of people in a war situation. But what we have in the case of what is happening in Southern Kaduna, and that is my own understanding, is that people sitting in their homes and their houses are being slaughtered.

I am not military personnel. If actually this is interpreted to be a war, a combat or so, then the ceasefire is welcome. However, I just saw it on television. I am not a party to it and I don’t have to be a party to it. But whichever way peace comes to Southern Kaduna, I welcome it.

Like I said, I was not a party to it and nobody notified SOKAPU. I tried to find out from a few, that is, the presidents of the various tribes, but they told me they were not aware of any such meeting.

However, like I said, what we want is peace at the end of the day. If by whatever method it is brought about, definitely it will be welcomed.
I repeat, I am not aware, whether any organ of SOKAPU- the SOKAPU Central Executive Council, elders of SOKAPU, youth wing of SOKAPU, women wing of SOKAPU or students arm of SOKAPU were invited to that meeting. But, if peace will take place, we welcome it.

Before the peace accord, there were attacks and killings that allegedly to have been carried out by Fulani herdsmen, with whom the people have been living together in peace before. What do you think must have gone wrong?
Let me put it this way. There have been a lot of theories on this. We in Southern Kaduna are peace-loving people. I grew up in Southern Kaduna and I know that the Southern Kaduna people are some of the most peaceful people in the world. We did not even know how to slaughter cows.

The Southern Kaduna man fundamentally is inherently above tribe. The Southern Kaduna man will never, ever look for your trouble. That is why right from the onset of this crisis, we have always appealed to the people to maintain peace. We have always told the people never embark on retaliation.

The Southern Kaduna man, I made bold to say, will never go out of his way to attack anyone. But from the comfort of our homes, people began to come to start attacking us. Of course, what I told some people elsewhere is that the vegetation of the area is green, the land is arable, the place is good and there appears to be a grand design by whoever to supplant our people, to drive us away from our land. Otherwise, how do you explain a situation like this where people will come and just massacre us?
This has gone beyond civility; it is almost a situation of genocide. They kill without any mercy and after killing, even the crops that have been planted, they gave them to cattle that are grazing freely on those crops that have been planted. And of cause, the crops are destroyed.

The effects of the attacks are very clear; people have already deserted their villages. Go to several villages, if you have been there before, they have been deserted. So, what is happening is that you desert the villages so that they can enter. Some people are saying that because of the desertification in their own areas, that is why they are doing this, and I say that is inhuman. If you are doing this because of desertification, then cry out loud for attention and solution.

Desertification is a simple thing; all you need to do is to carry out a programme of afforestation. For example, when Israel got to where they are today, the land was a barren land, but today the land is green. Go towards Jerusalem, you will discover that the place has been transformed.

Because there is desertification, people will now come and graze on our crops? We are hardworking farmers and people and into subsistence agriculture. They are now coming to attack and kill us. That is wicked, barbaric and satanic.Look at what is happening today, they did not ever consider too that the Southern Kaduna man is also aggressive.

Assuming he is a man that does not like peace, will you say he is the same with an Agatu man? Will you say he is the same with the Plateau man? Will you say he is the same with the man in Enugu?
How come all of a sudden, these people were all over wherever the land is green here? How come again, because we have been told that the kind of weapons been used are very sophisticated?

For example, I have been told that an AK 47 costs not less than between N300, 000 and N400, 000. If it is true, is it these attackers that are buying it? Or is it that it is somebody that is sponsoring it?
These are things for the security agencies to fish out. And then again, how come these people are all over Nigeria, fighting in various communities? If the Southern Kaduna man is the aggressor, is everybody all over the country is an aggressor against them? These are questions that somebody needs to answer. How come they are so emboldened and now all over? If the Southern Kaduna man is an aggressor, is the Enugu man also an aggressor? And the attacks appear to be all over Nigeria. It appears to be a grand design.

The state government recently embarked on creating grazing reserve for the Fulani cattle rearers. To what extent do you think such policy can go in resolving the problems of herdsmen attacks and killings?It is really, really unfortunate, because there has been so many issues on ground. There are issues of poverty, schooling, farmers not having fertilizers and so on.

And all of a sudden, government is saying is that if you want something, starts taking the laws into your hands, because that is what it appears.

These people started killing and grazing into your farmlands and the only way now is to resuscitate one old law of 1964 that could not be enforced even when there was no desertification at all? Now, in this age when you go round several countries of the world and you don’t see cattle grazing all over?

For goodness sake, even in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), now you see cattle grazing. There is something that has made them so bold and confident to be doing what they are doing. And it is for people to find out what that thing is. It appears they are saying that look, nobody will stop us; we will have our ways, no matter what.

Grazing reserves is like robbing Peter to pay Paul. Cattle grazing is a personal business. It is a commercial business. If I choose to have a snake farm and snake starts biting people, then the state government will now come out and say, because snakes do not have very good place, therefore, let us create a reserve for snakes to be moving about.

We are not against cattle business, but the issue is that since it is a personal business, let whoever wants to go into cattle business buy land. When they buy the land, confine the cattle and raise the grass that is required and buy whatever is needed.

Otherwise, why should you elevate cattle grazing over piggery, for example? Should anybody that wants to go into any business that is harmful to other people, of necessity get the support of the state government?  I think this is wrong.

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