Matthew Kukah, Catholic bishop of Sokoto diocese, says demonising herdsmen, especially those of the Fulani extraction, could lead to a breakout of violence.
Kukah, who spoke on Tuesday at a colloquium on fake news and hate speech, said hate speech often precedes any genocide experienced in history.
Following incessant attacks by suspected herdsmen whom some tag Fulani, the clergy likened the profiling of the Fulani to what happened to the Igbo leading up to the Nigerian civil war between 1967 and 1970, saying:
“If it is Fulani today, yesterday it was the Igbos,” he said. Reacting to the controversy around the picture of herdsmen used on the Nigerian passport booklets, Kukah asked why the focus was on the herdsmen when there are symbols of other ethnic groups on the passport.
“When I look at my passport, it has the coat of arm and map of Nigeria. Then right in front of the data page where all my information is, I have the Bini. I am not a Bini man, but I am eminently proud of this.
I didn’t even know it was here because I had to go through the passport page by page. When I opened the passport the first thing I saw was Zuma Rock, then I see Tiv dancers. Who permitted them to put Tiv dancers?
Then I got to the next page before I came to this poor Fulani man who is standing with his cows. Suddenly, this is the only thing we have chosen. Why is it exciting?
It is exciting because this is the time for us to ‘hate’, literally tag every Fulani as a herdsman. We are in a very dangerous precipice,” he said. The priest asked those in a leadership position to stand up and tell where the country is going.
He also urged Nigerians to be each other’s keeper and avoid ethnoreligious profiling in dealing with each other. He added that the media should sieve through in choosing who to give audience to avoid persons who propagate hate and mischief.