John Olusola Baiyeshea is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria based in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital. Over the years, his voice on legal issues has become a force to reckon with. In this interview with our JUDICIARY CORRESPONDENT, KAYODE ADEOTI, he speaks on the need to find lasting solution to the prevailing herdsmen killings in the country. Excerpts:
Herdsmen killings seem to have subsided in recent time…?
(Cuts in) It is good you said it seems, this is a good time for our government to sit up and address the issue once. The killings has not stopped only that it is more pronounced in some areas. From what we know of the Fulani herdsmen, they move from one place to the other and these people live in the bush. All the suggested ideas like creation of ranches and colonies, to me, will not work. We have to find a solution that would be natural and indigenous. When you talk about ranches you are talking about an organised society and we are not yet mature for that. If you watch foreign movies or you go abroad, you will see all these animals in their normal farms. You won’t see them roaming like ours here. We cannot be civilised overnight. Also, we don’t have means, resources and apparatus to enforce restriction of movement of these Fulani herdsmen. Everywhere is porous. The only thing is to sensitise those people and let them know that they should not go into people’s farms and destroy their crops. We should allow their people who speak their language to do it. Something must be done fast. For God’s sake, how would a reasonable herdsman directs his cattle to farms people have laboured to grow to eat up the crops. If they continue like that, there would be no food for people to eat in Nigeria. I believe nobody has the single solution. Maybe we should come together and deliberate seriously. These things have been happening before, it has now been hyped and escalated to a high political debate. Is it because the president is a Fulaniman? We politicise issues in this country.
Will you subscribe to the call to declare them terrorist group?
If people will just go into a town, attack the town and kill people there. Those ones are more like Boko Haram. I don’t think it will be fair to say that all Fulani are terrorists but those causing this attack should be treated like terrorists and let security agents go after them. What are the military, police, civil defence, customs, immigration doing? We understand that some of them are from Lake Chad because they don’t look like Fulani. There must be more to it than meet the eyes.
As 2019 general elections approaches, there has been a kind of debate among members of the public that those who had held elective positions should not join the race, what is your take on this?
Most politicians vie for political posts in order to perpetuate themselves in office. They go there to recycle themselves, many of them don’t have record of good performance anywhere other than to eat, get fat and take undue advantage of the system, loot and destroy our essential fabric. What most of them are going there to do is to accommodate space, willpower, accumulate wealth, dole out monies to people. They want to be relevant at all times, dictate the pace and everybody will be worshipping them. They are not going there to help the nation grow because these are failed people. This is time for them to have the fear of God that they serve at heart. Our politicking should be done with maturity so that we can have peace, no election is worth the blood of any of our youth.