The Federal High Court in Abuja has been asked to restrain some media houses in the country and Federal Government agencies from further attributing banditry-related crime to Fulani.
The request forms a relief is a suit by a man, Ahmadu Shehu, who claimed to be a Fulani and a university lecturer.
In the fundamental rights enforcement suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1729/2022, Shehu is claiming among others, that the persistent attribution of acts of banditry and related crimes to Fulani herdsmen was discriminatory.
Named as respondents in the suit are nine media houses and three Federal Government agencies, including the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (OAGF).
Other government agencies joined in the suit are the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
The media houses are: Channels Television, Africa Independent Television (AIT); The Guardian newspapers, The people’s Gazette; Vintage Press Ltd, Thisday Newspapers Ltd, African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc and TVC Communications Ltd.
In a supporting court document, Shehu claimed “that on several occasions, government officials have been found making antagonistic statements against the Fulani people.
“All over the country, there are millions of Fulani people who are engaged in legitimate activities either in the Civil Service at the federal, state or local levels, some who are engaged in businesses, living in peace and contributing productively and positively to the well-being of society.
“Many negative, discriminatory and demeaning statements have denied the applicant (Shehu) the requisite recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing of his human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.
“The branding of Fulani people as ‘Fulani Herdsmen’ or ‘Fulani Bandits’ is indicative of domination of other Nigerian tribes over the Fulani people.
“The Fulani people have a history of peaceful coexistence with other ethnic groups in Nigeria over a period spanning more than 100 years.
“The attribution of violent, gruesome banditry and terrorist attacks by unscrupulous elements to the ethnic identity of the Fulanis have negatively impacted the perception of a reasonable Nigerian of other ethnicity about a person of Fulani origin, so that they perceive a common Fulani person as a symbol of violence, gruesome murder, banditry, and terrorism.
“The attribution of violent, gruesome banditry and terrorist attacks by unscrupulous elements to the ethnic identity by the 4th – 12th respondents have denied unquantifiable amount of persons of Fulani origin, including the applicant, the requisite recognition, enjoyment and/or exercise, on an equal footing of their human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.
“The attribution of violent, gruesome banditry and terrorist attacks by unscrupulous elements to the ethnic identity by the 4th – 12th respondents have denied the applicant a lot business and political opportunities due to the fact that people are hesitant to deal with him because of the negative reporting of the 4th – 12th respondents.
“The description of perpetrators of banditry and terrorist attacks in various parts of Nigeria as ‘Fulani Herdsmen’ or ‘Fulani Bandits’ have infringed on the applicant and Fulanis’ right to protection from unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.”
Some of the reliefs being sought by Shehu include:
A declaration that the unsubstantiated ascription of bandits and/various parts of Nigeria to people of Fulani extraction and the description of perpetrators of such attacks as “Fulani Herdsmen” and/or “Fulani Bandits” by the 4th – 12th defendants is inordinate, unconscionable, discriminatory and a violation of their right to enjoy all the civil rights recognized and guaranteed by Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights; Article 1 of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination; and Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
A declaration that the constant albeit unsubstantiated attribution of bandits’ and/or terrorists’ attacks in various parts of Nigeria to people of Fulani extraction, and the description of perpetrators of such attacks as “Fulani Herdsmen” and/or “Fulani Bandits” by the 4th – 12th defendants is a violation of their right to mutual tolerance and respect by his fellow beings without discrimination as enshrined in Article 28 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.
An order of Perpetual injunction restraining the 4th – 12th defendants, their privies, agents, successors, howsoever described from further attributing any bandits/terrorists’ attack, past or future to the people of Fulani ethnicity.
An order of this honourable court directing the 4th – 12th respondents to pay the sum of N1i00,000,00.00 as compensation/exemplary damages in consonance with Section 46 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, against the respondents severally and or jointly for violation of the applicant’s fundamental human rights.