Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), a faith-based human rights organization, has demanded that the Nigerian Police acknowledge the Fulani Nomad Vigilante team, which was just established in Nasarawa State on January 17, 2024.
MURIC also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Dr. Abdullahi Bello Bodejo, leader of Miyetti Allah, who was arrested on January 23, 2024, at the Tundun Maliya Cattle Market, Tundun-Wada, Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.
These requests were stated in a press release signed by Professor Ishaq Akintola, the Executive Director of MURIC, on Friday, February 9, 2024.
The statement read, “The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) launched a security outfit under the name Fulani Nomad Vigilante Team on 17th January, 2024. But the Nigerian Police has since declared the vigilante team illegal and refused to recognize it. (https://dailypost.ng/2024/02/06/police-disown-miyetti-allah-security-outfit-in-nasarawa/; https://newsnownigeria.ng/police-disavow-miyetti-allah-security-outfit-in-nasarawa/)
“The leader of Miyetti Allah, Dr. Abdullahi Bello Bodejo, was also arrested on 23rd January, 2024 at the Tundun Maliya Cattle Market, Tundun-Wada, Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State (https://leadership.ng/dss-arrests-miyetti-allahs-president-for-setting-up-vigilante-group/).
“The refusal of the Nigeria Police to recognize the new security outfit established by Miyetti Allah is inexplicable. It stands logic on its head. Coming in the wake of complaints by police authorities concerning understaffing, among other things.
“It is on record that even the new Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, lodged the same complaint of understaffing when he met the House of Representatives in November 2023, just three months ago. The IG revealed that Nigeria Police currently has a 1:1000 ratio of police to citizens. It should be noted that the United Nations recommends at least one to every 448 citizens (ratio 1:448) (https://bnnbreaking.com/world/nigeria/nigeria-police-force-grapples-with-severe-understaffing-and-lack-of-resources/).
“We are therefore at a loss regarding what informed the police decision to disavow Miyetti Allah’s security outfit. Security experts maintain that security is everybody’s business and that it should not be left to the police alone. Why then is the police jittery over Miyetti Allah’s private security outfit?
“Nigeria’s security challenges are so humongous that our leaders, from ex-President Jonathan to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu have been under severe criticism over security lapses.
“The total number of our police force as at 2019 was about 317,000. The Department of State Security Services hovered around 33,000 while that of the Nigerian Army was approximately 100,000. With a population not less than 220,000 and rising astronomically on an annual basis, the IG’s fears must be seen as very real.
“This is where we have doubts about the sincerity of the Nigeria Police and its raison d’etre for refusing to recognize Miyetti Allah’s security outfit. It should be noted that the 2,140-man-strong vigilante group established by Miyetti Allah aims to complement the efforts of conventional security agencies in addressing insecurity and promoting peaceful coexistence in Nasarawa State.
“We are all witnesses to the massacres of Fulanis in several parts of the country, particularly cases of cattle rustling. 131 Fulanis were mercilessly massacred at Kajuru local Government of Southern Kaduna on 10th February, 2019. More than 1,000 Fulanis were systematically massacred in a span of seven months between June 2017 and January 2018.
“732 Fulani Muslims were massacred in the carnage which occurred in June 2017 in Mambilla, Taraba State. 82 Fulani Muslim women and children were killed by Batchama militiamen in Numan Local Government of Adamawa State in November 2017.
“In January 2018, 30 Fulanis were again killed in an attack by Batchama militia in Numan, Adamawa. On July 6, 2018, 14 Fulani Muslims were killed by gunmen suspected to be Nyandan militia in Lau Local Government, Taraba State. Yet another 24 Fulanis were mowed down in the same Lau Local Government few weeks after that. 96 Fulanis were also massacred in Kajuru about the same time.
“The same fear of insecurity that birthed Amotekun in the South West is enough cassu belli for Miyetti Allah’s Fulani Nomad Vigilante Team. The police should allow a level playing ground among all regional and local security outfits. Nature hates vacuum. It is the absence or insufficiency of security agencies in troubled areas that necessitated the creation of complimentary security outfits.
“MURIC urges the Nigeria Police to leave Miyetti Allah alone. Its security outfit should be allowed to operate so that Nigeria can move an inch closer to global best practices in security rating.
“In the same vein, whoever among the security agencies that is holding Dr. Abdullahi Bello Bodejo, leader of Miyetti Allah, should set him free.
“In compliance with the judicial principle of audi alterem partem (i.e., hear from both sides to a case before taking a decision), Section 36 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria stipulates right to fair hearing. The leader of Miyetti Allah must therefore be set free or produced in a competent court of law.
“Although Section 23 of the Police Act stipulates that suspects cannot be detained beyond 24 hours after which the person should be charged to court in conformity with the basic constitutional rights of citizens, Miyetti Allah leader has been in detention since 24th January, 2024 in contravention of his Allah-given fundamental human rights as stated again in Section 41(1) on freedom of movement.
“We remind the security agencies and the Federal Government that by holding the leader of Miyetti Allah beyond 24 hours, Nigeria is violating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (of which the country is a signatory) on Right to Fair Trial (Article 10), Right to freedom from torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment (Article 5), Right to presumption of innocence until proved guilty according to the law in a public trial which guarantees legal defence (Article 11).
“Article 7(b) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights also stipulates the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent court or tribunal. Dr. Abdullahi Bello Bodejo should therefore be released from detention or arraigned before a competent court of jurisdiction.”