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HomeIn-DepthPresident Tinubu Sparks Outrage by Freeing Accused Fulani Militia Leader Bello Bodejo

President Tinubu Sparks Outrage by Freeing Accused Fulani Militia Leader Bello Bodejo

Was the Fulani Chieftain Planning an Invasion of Benue?

By Mike Odeh James

(Kaduna) The decision of the Federal Government of Nigeria to withdraw all terrorism charges against Myetti Allah Chieftain, Bello Bodejo, has drawn anger and outrage from citizens across the nation.

Bello Bodejo, the leader of Miyetti Allah Kautal Kore, was arrested on January 23, 2024, at the Miyetti Allah office in Karu County, Nasarawa State. He was arrested for establishing a Fulani ethnic militia group without authorization from the Federal Government. The Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) claimed that the militia was established to promote terrorism.

Yet Bodejo was acquitted of all charges on May 29, 2024 – without official explanation – when the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) withdrew all charges against him. The AGF’s office submitted an oral application to withdraw the three-count charge, citing Section 108 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 and the AGF’s authority under Section 174 of the 1999 Constitution. The court subsequently discharged Bodejo, effectively acquitting him of the alleged terrorism charges.

Pressure or Threat From Fulani Group?

Public protests of Bodejo’s incarceration included oblique threats from his supporters in the cattle rearing association. Members of Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACABAN) carried placards on March 14, 2024. “They (Nigerian Government) must release him unconditionally, as they had failed to establish a case against him,”  the spokesman for the protesters said.

“We came here peacefully and delivered our message peacefully, but if they failed to release him, we don’t intend to cause havoc or violence, but if we are pushed to the wall, we don’t know what our radical members may do.”

What role played by 2027 elections?

 “It may not be the threat of violence that forced the Tinubu government to dismiss the case against the Myetti Allah boss, it maybe the consideration of 2027,” said human rights advocate Comrade Abdul Bako Usman exclusively to TruthNigeria.

 “The President may want to contest in 2027, and he has to be careful not to alienate the Fulani voters who could be easily galvanized against him using the Bodejo issue.”

Bodejo may have reached a secret deal with the top leaders of the cattle breeders so that Bodejo would be released but kept in check and promised not to cause any harm, Usman argued, noting that the legal hurdles facing Bodejo may not yet be over, as he has not been granted bail. “The Federal Government may have only withdrawn the charges against him temporarily, the government may still file fresh charges against him,” according to Usman.

Bodejo’s Gunmen Planning To  Invade  Benue?

Bodejo was planning to use his Fulani ethnic militia to invade Benue state before he was arrested, according to historian and public affairs analyst Dr. Katch Onunuju. A long-time analyst of groups in conflict in West Africa, Onunuju, offered this opinion June 1, 2024, in an interview with North Central TV.

“The offense of Bodejo was organizing an ethnic militia in Nasarawa State, which he intended to march into Benue.” Onunuju is not the only one who has made such a revelation.

David Onyilokwu Idah, Director, Special Representative, and Envoy, Africa Region Headquarters, International Human Rights Commission, IHRC, Nairobi, Kenya. Photo courtesy of David Idah.
David Onyilokwu Idah, Director, Special Representative, and Envoy, Africa Region Headquarters, International Human Rights Commission, IHRC, Nairobi, Kenya. Photo courtesy of David Idah.

David Onyilokwu Idah, a former Commissioner with the United Nations Human Rights Commission explained to TruthNigeria that “Nasarawa has been the base for attacks by Fulani terrorists on Christian communities of Benue and Plateau.”

“States with huge Christian populations, such as Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba, would be attacked if that security outfit Bodejo was organizing came to fruition.”

“Already, we know that the Fulanis are the ones behind the violence in Benue, Plateau, Southern Kaduna, and Taraba,” Idah went on to say. “They are seeking a way to legalize or give legitimacy to their operations.”

When asked about the fate of the 1,200 militias recruited by Bodejo, Idah said,

“I don’t know what happened to them, but we shall find out. It would be dangerous to just let them go scot-free without profiling [tracking] them.

Tinubu Accused of Disparate Treatment of Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo Separatists

Nnamdi Kanu. Photo credit: Facebook/Elochukwu Ohagi Official.
Nnamdi Kanu. Photo credit: Facebook/Elochukwu Ohagi Official.

The acquittal of Bodejo has also raised concern in the Southeast  region of the country

While accusing Bodejo of planning to invade Benue with his terror group, analyst Onunuju  raised the issue of another separatist leader, Nnamdi Kanu.

Onunuju argued in a TV interview that Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has been arrested and charged with terrorism but should be released just like Bodejo

Kalu, a prominent philanthropist from the Southeast region of the country noted that President Tinubu’s action would further fuel terrorism in the country.

He noted that  Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of IPOB, was arrested and charged under the same law that Bodejo was charged with yet, the latter is now free.

Another separatist leader, Sunday Igboho of the Yoruba Nation, who was charged with the terrorism act has been set free while Kanu remains in detention, Kalu added.

 “Within a few months Sen. Bola Tinubu got enthroned as the President of Nigeria, plans were perfectly concluded for the release of Sunday Igboho, whose charges weren’t different from that against Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, but till date, Kanu is still held in Directorate of State Security (DSS) custody against court orders to relocate him to Kuje Correctional facility of the Federal Government.

“Then a day after Mr. President ‘s one-year anniversary in office, the Federal Ministry of Justice under the political head of Lateef Fagbemi withdrew terrorism charges against the leader of Miyetti Allah brotherhood, for reasons unknown to the law,” wrote Dr. Emeka Kalu in a public statement issued by the ECK Foundation, which he heads.

Kalu reportedly also warned that with the withdrawal of terrorism charges against Bodejo, the country may have planted the weeds that may eventually work against the tenets of civility, security and good governance. In his argument in the statement issued 6 days ago, Bodejo’s deliberate actions and involvement had facilitated and supported violent crimes, including killings, under the guise of cattle grazing across Nigeria, even if Bodejo has not been convicted of these crimes.

Mike Odeh James is a Kaduna-based conflict reporter for TruthNigeria. 

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