MACBAN: FAILURE OF GOVERNMENT, CAUSE
OF INSECURITY, INSTABILITY IN TARABA STATE
Alhaji Mafindi Umaru Danburam was the Taraba State Chairman of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association for 8 years; after which he served as zonal chairman, Northeast. At present, he is the Special Adviser of the Association’s National President on conflict resolution. Last year, at the instance of the Emir of Muri, a Fulani Disciplinary Committee, targeted at flushing out criminal elements was constituted and Mafindi was named as its Chairman. On his mind now, is service for herders in Nigeria as the National President of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association.
In this interview with Christiana Babayo and Williams Ayooso, Danburam spoke on the efforts of the committee in curbing insecurity; even as he blamed the Governor Darius Ishaku led administration for the lingering insecurity and socio-political instability in the state.
Wishing you a happy reading
What has it been like piloting the affairs of the Miyetti-Allah Cattle Breeders Association over the years?
We have experienced a lot of security issues in Taraba state and we have succeeded in solving some of them. If you can recall, in 2013 to 2016 there was serious farmers/herders crisis in the state but with the help of Allah, we were able to control it.
Last year there was another crisis of such nature in Bali and Gassol but it was resolved. Normally, such crisis shouldn’t linger for long but because of some political elements, the farmers/herders crisis lasted for three months in 2014/2015. When we came to understand that there was third party in the crisis, I called my Tiv brothers; we brainstormed and ensured that we did away with the third party culprits. We worked with the Ter Tiv of Bali and the Sarkin Fulani, Ardos and the Miyyetti Allah executives and we succeeded in doing away with that crisis. Another crisis surfaced last year, but we brought it to end immediately.
The Emir of Muri is playing a key role in resolving crisis and fighting criminality in the State. You will recall that last year, he made a pronouncement that the Fulanis should bring out all the criminal elements among them. Based on this charge, we constituted a Fulani Disciplinary Committee in August 2021 and we launched it in Mararaban Kunini under the supervision of the Commissioner of Police, Abimbola Sokoya and the then Director of DSS. Through this arrangement, we have succeeded in reducing crime waves in Jalingo, Zing, Ardo kola, Bali and Gassol LGAs. Now we have a standing committee that is working with both the police and the military. They are fishing out the criminals from these LGAs. We have succeeded in jailing and prosecuting 47 criminals, kidnappers and armed robbers. We also retrieved some arms.
The major challenge we are facing is lack of government support for the program. But kudos to all security agencies, there is serious collaboration between the police and the Miyetti Allah Disciplinary Committee. Even now, there is a Police Hilux Van with police personnel, attached to the Committee by the CP. But fuelling the vehicle and feeding the vigilante members remain our challenge. For several times, we approached the Governor for support but he did not respond.
If the government that is supposed to secure lives and properties is seeing these achievements, it is paramount for it to come out and finance the movement. But it has done nothing. We have been doing it for the past six months. The Governor has been giving the other vigilantes that started this work about 40 million a month under Danladi Baido, yet they did not achieve half of what we have achieved in six months.
What measures have you put in place to control the influx of foreign criminal elements in the state and how will you differentiate them from those that are on their normal business in the state?
First of all, no tribe is free from criminals. Crime is not perpetrated by a certain tribe. But in Taraba state, majority of the people indulging in kidnapping and banditry are the Fulanis. As a Fulani man, I can differentiate between a Fulani from Kaduna, Zamfara and any other place. We have differences, even in our cows. You may not know because you are not an insider. Those ones from other states mostly don’t speak Fulfulde, they speak Hausa, and then we have different behavioral tendencies. When I see them, I know where they come from, even by their mode of dressing.
Before the establishment of this committee, people use to call Lau LGA, Centre of crisis and kidnapping. Go to Lau today, we have collaborated and flushed them out.
On the influx of criminal elements, I want you to know that the power of the Emir is limited. He is not the Chief Security officer of the State. He is not in charge of the police and the other security agencies. He is only in control of Miyetti Allah. Through the instrumentality of the Miyetti Disciplinary committee, we checkmate the influx of herdsmen into the state. We have mounted Fulani vigilante check points to prevent them from coming into the state. These steps have helped a lot as many of them, who wanted to occupy Taraba, have passed to central Africa. You can’t mount a roadblock on a federal highway to block influx of Fulani’s into the state. That’s not the route thy take. We have told our Ardos, no one should accept a stranger without our consent.
Taraba has lived peacefully irrespective of religious and ethnic differences. But insecurity seems to have taken over the state, where have we gone wrong as a people?
Failure of the government is the cause of insecurity in this state. If the government has nothing to show, it brings a lot of propaganda to divide the people. His Excellency, Rev Jolly Nyame and his deputy, Danjuma Gani, were all Christians, but there wasn’t any complain because they were developing the state. Danbaba Suntai was governor that could move freely everywhere in the state. This is because he was fair to everybody. When Danbaba stopped motorcycling in this town no one said anything, even as most of these cyclists are Muslims. This was because the people knew that he loved them more than himself. This is a governor that will stay in the state three months at a stretch without going to Abuja. He toured all the 16 LGAs. If we have such a government in place, nothing can divide us. That was what happened. I am not saying that there was no crisis during the other regimes but it is more rampant in this regime.
We have only one project in Taraba, that of debt. So far, over 200 billion debt is being accumulated. If we talk about this bridge, other states have it too. Some people say that this government is favouring Christians alone. This is not true because Christians are even crying more than the Muslims.
But I am happy with this administration because it will force us to go back to the drawing board and reason properly. Even the CAN and the muslin council that are shouting all over the place, they will go back to the board. 2023 will be different; it will no longer be like the previous election where religion was the basis for campaign.
Look where we are now, how many years will it take to pay back these loans and pay our local government staff and pay gratuities. The government has no mercy on a typical civil servant waiting for his gratuity and pension. Again, this is a government that has forgotten about students. Of all students that we have in tertiary institutions, Government is allocating only 50 million Naira as scholarship; even as this is the first time in all these years?
I am a retired civil servant since 2014, I have no pension or gratuity and I have voted PDP. But how do you expect me to go back and tell people to vote PDP. If Darius has done well, do you think Bwacha that started from member all the way, will decamp and move to APC? The speaker’s home town has no road to his own hometown Lau, what do you expect him to tell his people at the end of the day? If you consider all these, it is like there is no government.
We have to go back to the drawing board. If you insist that Christians should go with Christians and Muslims with Muslims, we have already seen the consequence of that. Let’s vote for competence, development, and peaceful coexistence in 2023. I don’t have a candidate, I had one in 2019 and he failed me. I will just wait and see who comes and what he can do and then I will decide on whom to vote.
What is your take on granting amnesty to bandits?
A bandit is a bandit. If you give them amnesty, they will try the same thing tomorrow. When arrested, they should be tried in a competent court of law. I don’t support any soft treatment for a bandit; let them be treated as criminals. A true repentant will come out on his own and surrender his arms; not these ones that were smoked out from their comfort zones by a military operation.
You are contesting for National Presidency of the MACBAN, what do you intend to do differently?
I have four agenda if I am elected as the president of MACBAN. First my priority is educating the herders. As you know an idle mind is the devils workshop, which is why crime is extra ordinary among the herders.
Secondly, my plan is to alleviate poverty. I will do that by liaising with the concerned authorities, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the CBN to give soft loans to herders whose cattle are been rustled by bandits. A typical herder doesn’t know how to farm or anything except herding. Without the cows he cannot live.
Thirdly reconciliation; the crime perpetrated by so called herders had led many states to establish this law of open grazing. When I was state chairman, I negotiated with the Taraba state government for an extension of time for implementation. Now you can see our people, the herders, going about with their grazing. But the crime perpetrated before the establishment of the law has reduced. We went to the state government and told them we were interested in our old way of grazing, if you stop us without adequate knowledge about this ranching, it means you have stopped our livelihood. The governor in his mercy decided that we should come and look at the law and review it, that’s why our people are grazing freely.
If elected, I want to meet with our state government to see how we are going to soften the law so that it will be of economic benefit to the state and the herders.
I also want to establish a disciplinary committee like the one I have here in Taraba and Adamawa states. Everyone here knows the role the committee played to ensure security. We will involve all the Ardos in Nigeria; we will demarcate geographic locations for them to take care of, so that no stranger enters any location without the notice of the Ardos.
Again, most of our youths indulge in criminal activities under the influence of drugs. Therefore, we will liaise with the NDLEA to have an outfit in LGAs so we can curb the sale or supply of these illicit drugs.
Now, you know how we partnered with our Tiv brothers in Taraba state, to make sure there is peace, I want to do this with every tribe in Nigeria. The nature of a typical herder is that you meet them everywhere in the country. So I will try to get their numbers, to know how I can secure them and to know the number of cattle so that we can find a way to liaise with government to give us drugs and pasture.
My father the Emir of Muri has a company; the CBN has given him one billion naira loan to improve the company. The company is called, Taraba Pasture Production Company Limited. The head office is here in the Emir’s palace. The company is in Bali LG. The largest farm is in Nassarawa state where they produce pasture. People are migrating from north to south to have these pastures. If we succeed in liaising with the CBN to enable the Emir establish the company in at least every two LGA of the federation. It will enhance production of meat, milk and it will enrich the people.
We have no choice than to move to the modern system of living and this cannot happen overnight, but with proper planning, the story will be different.