A broader definition of violence reveals that it is not always physical. It includes behavior by people whose actions and inaction are liable to cause emotional or psychological harm. The point however is that those who stoke violence need not deploy physical force. Words have been deployed even as a more effective tool than guns. Those who have mastered this art can do it brazenly, but most times in a very covert and sinister fashion. In Nigeria, no two individuals are better adept in this regard than Bello Abdullahi Bodejo and Femi-Fani Kayode.
Bello Abdullahi Bodejo
If there is anybody that is versed in speaking violence, it is the leader of Miyetti Allah, Bello Abdullahi Bodejo. He lacks all forms of self-restraint. While trying to protect the interests of his members, he escalates issues beyond control. His rash and careless statements are the reason why most Nigerians have wrong and negative impressions about Fulani herdsmen and by extension the ethnic group. His daring retort to Akeredolu’s verdict on herdsmen offset the farmers/herders crisis and the violence that followed especially in Ibarapa and Sasha. These are the words of irrepressible Bello Bodejo :
“All the lands in this country belong to the Fulani, but we don’t have any business to do with land if it doesn’t have areas for grazing; if the land doesn’t have cow food, we won’t have any business with it.
“We don’t sell land, we don’t farm. What we consider is the areas that have cow food. If the place is good for grazing, we don’t need anybody’s permission to go there.”
As President General of Mzough U Tiv Worldwide, Chief Iorbee Ihagh noted, “The leader of Miyetti stays in Abuja and says a lot of things and nobody calls him to order or arrests him. He said that they can stay anywhere and do whatever they want to do and nothing will happen to them. Imagine such utterances.”
Some interest groups and organisations have equally called for the arrest of Alhaji Bello Abdullahi Bodejo, for making comments capable of causing crisis in the country.
In 2020, he was also reported to have said that his organisation, has concluded arrangements to flag off its own security outfit with about 5,000 to 100,000 vigilantes to be deployed across all the states of the federation.
Recently, Northern CAN, in a statement signed by its Vice-Chairman, Rev. Joseph Hayab, called on the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Inspector General of Police (IG) to “have a session with the ethnic superiority champion to school him on the diversity of Nigeria and the need for restraint from such reckless statements”.
Hayab, who noted that Nigeria does not belong to any ethnic or religious group, maintained that such false claims as made by Badejo only create tension and fuel crisis. It is on this note that his careless utterances have bolstered the notion that there is a coordinated agenda by the Fulani to outrun other ethnic groups to fulfill their expansionist dreams.
Last year, Bello Bodejo, with his association, had said that Yorubas are politically primitive for creating and supporting the community policing outfit, Amotekun: “Unfortunately, with very strong apology to my South-West friends, despite the education of the Yoruba people, they still remain the most primitive in terms of politics.”
The Miyetti Allah is reported to have hailed the Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, for stating that herdsmen carry AK-47 rifles to defend themselves. Although Bala Mohammed has said he used the wordings as a figure of speech, it seems what gives Bodejo joy are comments that tend to stoke disharmony among ethnic groups in Nigeria.
According to Chris Hedges, “Violence is a disease, a disease that corrupts all who use it regardless of the cause.” Femi-Fani Kayode, the self-styled activist, tops the league of Nigerians who speak and stoke violence. Fani-Kayode has always been at the forefront of anything that overheats the polity. He tops the league because of the quintessential deceptiveness with which he manages this skill. His calls for violence are not always outright. They are rather coordinated to throw people off scent. He carries it out with surreptitious doublespeak. Today he is calling for peace. The next day he is behind those calling for war.
Femi-Fani Kayode is among those political leaders that contributed to ethnic tensions currently rocking the country. When some Southwest political leaders and major stakeholders were approaching the Fulani herdsmen crisis with immense carefulness, he backed Sunday Igboho who asked Fulani natives to vacate Ibarapa, Oyo State. This is in spite of the unconstitutional implications of such verdict. Even when the crisis got to a head and claimed lives, Fani-Kayode did not relent in giving support. He was however quick to warn the Federal Government against arresting Sunday Igboho, describing it as a dangerous move that can backfire.
He has continued to support Igboho even in his recent secessionist declaration. An article he wrote in 2014 titled “Is Nigeria A Nation?” captures his separationist subtleties which he continues to throw up till today, as evident in some of the lines:
“Some Northerners have said that if power does not return to the North next year they will smash up Nigeria and make the South pay dearly. They believe that they owe Nigeria and that they were born to rule.
“How are we as Southerners supposed to react to this? Are we supposed to accept it sheepishly and just bow down and surrender?
“Are Southerners and Middle Belters not human beings? Are they nothing but slaves to the core Muslim North?”
Asides this, his role in events as the EndSARS protest projects his penchant for violence. He was one of those who diverted the protest from its original focus. Hashtags like #EndBuhariNow started with him as he openly asked the president to take responsibility and step down. He urged the protesters not just to demand an end to the police unit, but to equally call for the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari and his cabinet members.
Following his lack of what the All Progressive Congress described as values, decency, and ethics, he was restrained from joining the party. The Northern Elders’ Forum had equally kicked against his inclusion in the peace meeting and negotiations that led to the suspension of a nationwide strike embarked upon by members of the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria (AUFCDN). This is given his role in heightening tensions where he was quoted as making divisive statement that “if the North blocks food supply from the South, the South should block oil money to the North”.