When Every Criminal is a Herdsman

Image credit: Sahara Reporter.

Once more, the rising spate of insecurity in the country gave us something, perhaps more than a mouthful, at least if you believe in the theory that some lives are more important than the other.

With the recent tragic death of Mrs. Funke Olakunri, the daughter of Pa Reuben Fasoranti, a chieftain of the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere along Ondo –Ore road in the hands of yet to be apprehended criminal gangs which specialize in ambushing and robbing highway farers.

According to reports, the criminal elements were said to have opened fire on her car possibly in an attempt to hijack it. And in the process, she lost her life.

From all indications, it appears to be one death too many for quite a number of persons who are not only unable to put in their proper perspective crime, criminality, and criminals; but because of the daughter of the personality involved.

And literally, hell has been let loose in the south-west with a lot of well-meaning Yoruba sons and daughters coming out to condemn the act and as well as taking the President to task on the issue of proffering a lasting solution to the problem of insecurity in the country.

I can also not be convinced otherwise that it is not the main reason for the recent letter by former President Olusegun Obasanjo who has been on the neck of the incumbent President. 

Whereas under his watch a prominent Yoruba son in Chief Bola Ige was hacked to death in what was clearly a politically motivated attack. And up till date, the riddle of that heinous crime has bot been solved.

What I found disturbing with the latest development is that long before an investigation into the dastardly act ever commenced, the usual suspects were widely named as the marauding armed herdsmen/bandits who came out of the bush to attack their unsuspecting victim.

Such twisted and proof less narrative has been consistent for sometimes now. And it is tragic.

It is tragic in the sense that without an investigation launched into a criminal act by the appropriate authority and perpetrators apprehended it becomes unfounded and preemptive for anybody whatsoever to come to a conclusion about the identity of the criminals.

However, some journalists and Nigerians have of late have developed a worrisome mindset of drawing conclusions and in most cases ethnicizing every incident of recent criminality in the country.

Today, the nomadic Hausa/Fulani ethnic stock is a perfect fit for the gainfully parochial narratives or news reportage if you like of these bitterly unpatriotic and unprofessional set of journalists.

They are also at the receiving end of a tirelessly virulent politics of bitterness which has always been with us.

This is coming on the heels of the easily believable yet idiotic notion that the Fulanis are unleashing violence on the nation on the ground that one of them is currently the President of Nigeria.  

More so, because they are believed to be pursuing a clandestine agenda to Islamized the country.  And that those who opposed it are in for a torrid time in their hands.

Meanwhile, long before now nomadic Fulani can be seen herding their cattle with sticks and the likes round every pastureland where it could be found across the length and breadth of the country.

Even today, many of them still peaceably permeate the grasslands and forests around the country with their herds of cattle.

Agreed, there are criminal elements among them who bear arms and deliberately reared their cattle into people’s farms with a view to creating friction.

Just the same way we have criminal elements in virtually every profession you can think of. But that’s not to say every member of those professions is a criminal.

It is, therefore, condemnable for anybody to tag the herdsmen generally as criminals simply because of a few bad eggs among them.

Not minding also the likelihood of other criminal elements taking advantage of the predisposition the people have at believing reports without verification and so garbed themselves in customary Hausa/Fulani attires to perpetrate criminal acts.

Be that as it may, it is my belief that these violent incidents are the handiwork of disgruntled politicians and businessmen who owned most of this livestock as much as are the army of unlettered herders too.

Because I’m aware that most of these animals belong to wealthy and powerful Nigerians who bought them and contractually entrust them in the care of the Fulani elements who are professional herders.

They could be the ones equipping their cowboys with AK-47 purportedly to defend themselves against beastly animals in their lonesome traffic in the bushes which is a fearsome upgrade to sticks and cutlasses of the past, and the human raiders, otherwise known as rustlers.
And again when it comes to ethnicizing criminality, if my memory serves me right, I can remember we have once travelled this same path before.

Back in the day, the criminal elements that constantly ravaged the entire Benin-Ore-Onitsha roads killing and robbing traveling traders of their hard-earned monies were either people of Edo or Igbo extractions.

This might not be far from the truth but to say every Edo or Igbo man is a highway robber is not only mischievous but maligning and malicious to their ethnic nationalities in general.  

It trended long and still does, though; criminal elements from other ethnic nationalities were also culpable. 

Ever since then, the general consensus remains that the bulk of these highway robbers are people from these two ethnic groups.  Now that’s changing or has changed.

Elements from other ethnic groups no longer engage in criminal acts but the herders.  Isn’t that ridiculous?

But rather than continuing to engage in the blame game of insisting on looking out for the ethnic group or race in the criminal; we should actually be on a lookout for the criminals and treated them as they ought to be treated.

The criminal is not Fulani, Igbo, Yoruba or Nupe. A criminal is a criminal. And his or her intention is to break in or sneak up on their unsuspecting victims with a view to violently dispossessing them of their valuables.

And sometimes in the process of doing so and without justifiable reasons they take the life of even cooperating victims just as the case with Mrs. Funke Olakunrin and countless others who have lost their lives in similar circumstances. That’s the tragedy of crime and criminality the world over.

I wish to sympathize with families across this country that have lost loved ones to one incident of crime or the other and most especially with Pa Reuben Fasoranti who recently lost a beloved daughter.

May the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss be granted unto him and his entire family by the Almighty God?

But like the Yoruba will say, rhetorically, “is there a place where chickens don’t get missing when it is nightfall”?

The point is we have lost and still losing irreplaceable lives not just in Nigeria but all over the world to different shades of criminality and criminals.

To combat the ugly trend, Nigerians across different walks of life have suggested measures which include but not limited to the rejigging of Nigeria’s security architecture, community policing, increased policing of our porous borders, job provision for the teeming unemployed youths of the country, and an increase in social investment opportunities.

While I’ve no iota of doubt in my mind that these strategic approaches can be a solution to the menace, but I made bold to say that criminals will always be criminals specifically for the reason of greed.

And that’s down to moral values in which, disturbingly, a lot of Nigerians are deficit from the elites down to the ordinary persons on the street.

For instance, the criminal elites have for so long violently stole the future of the people when they conspire to rig election after election and have perpetuated themselves in power. The other is vote-buying and it is equally evil and criminal.

In fact, electoral crime is the worst of all criminal acts thinkable because it deprives the people of the opportunity to live a meaningful life when their commonwealth has been cornered by a privileged few.

Therefore, it is of little wonder to me that the country is presently going through its worst nightmare as far as criminality is concerned.

And this is as a result of action and inactions of our past selfish leaders whose deeds are like a seed which end up giving off its kinds.  Those who sow a wind, we are told will reap a whirlwind.  The furious whirlwind of the past miss-governance is here. Let’s deal with it before it consumes us.

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