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Stereotyped Criminality

Olanrewaju Ganiyu

Ethnicity should enrich us; it should make us a unique people in our diversity and not be used to divide us.

Apparently, the heterogeneity of Nigeria as a nation is non- negotiable with each ethnic group and its peculiarity.

A major traditional occupation all the ethnic groups have in common is agriculture which means agriculture in Nigeria is a national heritage, and that is probably the reason why it is pictured in the national symbol. In that case, the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba people mostly engage in arable farming while the Fulani people especially the hoipolloi are accustomed to rearing cattle. As herdsmen, they move their cattle with sticks from place to place for grazing as a means of livelihood.

Traditionally, it is their job, they possess excellent nomadic prowess which make intractable cattle become docile. They can walk through a whole continent feeding their Cattle, the dregs especially are cut out for cattle rustling and that is why they go for it as the best available alternative when it comes to choosing a career because the inclinations are always there.

Without being economical with the truth, they can be referred to as the custodian of cattle. Production of cattle in large numbers which contributes to Nigeria’s economic growth is never seen as a difficult task to them, thus they have a monopoly on cattle rustling and that is what an average Fulani man is known for.

By and large, what someone is known for or their occupation is important in the development of any society. As long as what they are known for is not inimical to the wellbeing of other inhabitants.

In the same vein, dairy products and beef as sources of protein for nutrition are said to be achievements that can be credited to this ethnic group. This shows that one tribe needs another for survival, as no nation can thrive in isolation.

However, it appears the Fulani herdsmen of those days are quite different from those of today, reason being that in those days, they did move their cattle with sticks and their cattle understood the language of the sticks.

Everyone knew this, and for this reason, the Yorubas propounded a popular saying that “Opa kan ni Fulani fi n da igba malu,” which literally means a Fulani herdsman controls a herd of cattle with just only one stick.” Contrariwise, it seems the cattle of the twenty first century no longer understand the language of a stick but the languages of weapons like sword and A-K 47 rifles.

It is interesting to know how these bulls and cows decipher the report of a gunfire by their grazier and how they react to it.

As a matter of fact, this should be a major concern to the rest law-abiding Fulani citizens in the country.

Considering the status quo, will this unfortunate incident not degenerate to stereotype tax whereby the Fulani people would be ostracized by the members of the other ethnic groups in the same country they all belong?

This issue requires wisdom as fixing accusing eyes on all of them owing to the atrocities the bad ones are committing is tantamount to smearing with mud the image of the Fulani race as a whole.

A criminal is a criminal and should be treated as such. On the scene of any crime, be it serious or less serious, the question of religion, sex or where a criminal comes from should be out of place because when we bleed, we bleed the same colour.

In the ordinary course of Nigeria’s events, when crime news is reported, people quickly open their eyes and ears to these questions which they are required by law to listen to with deaf ears knowing full well that the law itself is colorblind.

Obviously, people are not comfortable with the status quo, they feel the present government has not done enough or being lopsided in the dispensation of justice, hence the government has to make a gesture towards public opinion with regard to the matter of these deadly herdsmen as this will go a long way in convincing the people that the bad eggs among them are just few.

The rest should be cautious of their social engagement in the society, because the actions and inaction of the law-abiding ones and the unscrupulous elements today will become a reference point in history tomorrow.

Even though one cannot make inference that all of them are deadly, the bad ones remain thick skinned while the other ones with impeccable manners on the other hand remain thin skinned and their ethnic susceptibilities are offended when the word Fulani is mentioned in connection with a crime.

Therefore, there is an urgent need to save the race from negative stereotype that could portray them as a figure of universal derision or other ethnic groups become fulaphobic.

Revealingly some weeks ago, a reason for Nigerian Fulani to heave a sigh of relief surfaced when a renowned Nigerian politician, Mr Kawu Baraje revealed that the group of Fulani herdsmen terrorizing the innocent citizens were brought in from Niger, Chad, Mali, Sierra Leone and Senegal to help facilitate victory in the 2015 election and they have refused to leave after they are done with their malevolent assignment.

Now that the genesis of the bloodshed by the Fulani herdsmen has been divulged and linked to solving electoral arithmetic to pave the way for the emergence of Muhammadu Buhari as the president by some political juggernauts, by hook or by crook in 2015, it is now believed that no rational creature would blame the situation on the Fulani of Nigeria.

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