Suspected Fulani herdsmen have been on a killing spree in parts of Benue State. Many have been killed and several others maimed, while communities were sacked. The state government on Thursday January 11 held a mass burial for some of the victims of the massacre.
With the killings going on, the Federal Government recently dispatched some policemen to Benue State to beef up security there and tame the herdsmen. Unfortunately, the herdsmen struck again, this time killing two mobile policemen at Awashua village, in Logo Local Government area of the state.
Ironically, the same Federal Government dispatched thousands of soldiers to silence members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), non-violent agitators in the South East, terming the group a terrorist organisation. With the level of killing of innocent people going on in Benue State by the herdsmen, a cross section Nigerians wonder if it was not wrong for the Federal Government to have sent a detachment of policemen instead of soldiers in the troubled areas of Benue State, as it did when it wanted to crush IPOB members.
Buhari Has Failed To Protect Lives And Properties – Technocrat
Bond Ohuche, an Umuahia, Abia State-based technocrat maintained that President Muhammadu Buhari has failed in his Oath of Office which included chiefly to protect the lives and property of the citizens of Nigeria and should therefore honourably resign without further delay.
According to him, sending policemen to Benue to tackle the rampaging armed herdsmen was like to treating cancer with Paracetamol, stressing that this had exposed the shenanigan of the present administration.
He contended that by its action, it is now left to the Federal Government to make the plaster as big as the sore.
Ohuche stressed: “It is the duty of Mr. President to take the protection of the lives and property of the people seriously. The security agencies should be proactive and ensure that threats to lives and properties are nipped in the bud before they occur. But, this has not been the case when it has to do with the herdsmen.
“The leader of Miyetti Allah did warn the Benue government that the attacks on the villages were as a result of the killing of their cows and that it would continue. What is the meaning of this? Can human lives now be exchanged for animals? Are we living in a ‘cowtry’ or a country? Is the President Buhari presiding over human beings or cows?
“If Mr. President has not abdicated his duties, why would he send police to confront armed herdsmen instead of soldiers that have better training and sophisticated weapons to neutralise the herders? Are there no more pythons willing to dance? Or, have crocodiles given up their smiles? I don’t think the pythons and the crocodiles would be content only in Abia and South East and unwilling to dance in Benue ditto for the crocodiles.
“It would be inconceivable for anyone within the security circle to claim that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are spirits. They are human beings whose modus operandi is well known and can be checkmated. It is either that there is a collusion with the perpetrators and half truths are being sold to us.
Ohuche insisted that before the attacks, the Miyetti Allah had told the Benue government to modify the state’s Anti-Open Grazing Law or be prepared to contend with them, adding that that would have made the Federal Government’s security agencies to swing into action, but nothing was done.
This, he stressed, is an indication of complicity at certain quarters over the herdsmen’s onslaught against the Benue State communities.
He said: “If you saw the corpses of the murdered villagers, you will notice very deep cuts with machetes, daggers and other very offensive weapons. The murderers did not use guns so as not to attract the attention of the vigilante in the area. So, the whole blame is on the government and the agencies. They should rise to the occasion before the worst begins to happen.
“Let me also use this opportunity to urge the Abia State governor to set up a committee because the menace of the herdsmen has gradually begun in the state. Recently, they sacked a village in Ohafia and another in Bende, where the Secretary to the Abia State Government hails from. The Abia State governor should be proactive and set up a high profile vigilante team alongside the police to protect all the borders of the state before these blood sucking vampires begin their operation in ‘God’s Own State.’
Comparison Between Fulani Herdsmen And IPOB Does Not Arise – Social Critic
Ifeanyi Afuba, an Awka-based social critic said the comparison between Fulani herdsmen and IPOB does not arise. He said: “For me, the comparison with IPOB is not necessary. We have emergency situation in Benue and Taraba where the herdsmen have taken the laws into their hands. What the herdsmen are doing amounts to terrorism because they are killing people without hindrance.
“There is no degree of provocation that can just justify mass slaughter of citizens. Only God knows what the Federal Government wants to achieve by pretending that we don’t have a terrifying situation on the ground. What laws of Nigeria empowers herdsmen to go about with sophisticated weapons in broad day light? The fact that they have not been arrested shows that something is wrong somewhere.
“The first duty of government is to protect lives. So, if the Federal Government sees a situation where a blood bath is going in the country and people’s lives are being taken, houses being set ablaze and whole communities are fleeing, I don’t know what else that will require emergency response.
“It is a case of emergency, a situation that cannot be contained by the police and requires deployment of soldiers.”
‘We should sit up to face challenges’
Kachi Okoye, a retired soldier cum business man, asked: “If soldiers were deployed to tackle IPOB members who had no weapons what of those who possess weapons?” He insisted that Igbo are not wanted in Nigeria and the people should sit up. He stressed: “We should sit up to face the challenges. If IPOB should be shut dead without weapons, then we must sit up.”
He lamented that Nigeria is not united and the only solution to herdsmen menace is to split the country so that each component part would fight for itself.
FG Should Have Deployed Soldiers To Benue, Taraba, Etc – IPOB
Incidentally is the Media and Publicity Secretary of IPOB in a statement on Wednesday said: “If the Nigerian government and her security agencies are sincere about tackling the menace of murderous Fulani herdsmen, they must also deploy their soldiers to Benue and Taraba States with the same shoot-at-sight order they readily apply against peaceful Biafra agitators.
“We are still wondering why the Nigerian government could not send soldiers to the aid of its citizens in Benue, Taraba, Kaduna and other states where Fulani herdsmen are rampaging and massacring innocent citizens with impunity. We are certain that Aso Rock merely ordered the IG of Police to relocate police headquarters in Abuja to Benue to provide cover for these murderous Fulani herdsmen and help them consolidate their hold on new territories they are now occupying,” IPOB said in a statement.
‘President has soft spot for Fulani Herdsmen’
Mr. George Pam, a Minna-based consultant and estate manager said he personally sees nothing wrong by President Buhari to send the police to tackle Fulani herdsmen attacking some communities in Benue State with sophisticated weapons, while deploying soldiers to crush armless IPOB members.
Pam maintained that anyone who can read between the lines knows that the President has soft spot for Fulani people because they are kinsmen. Hence, he maintained that President Buhari could send armed soldiers to deal with the IPOB members, while he sent policemen to Benue to face armed Fulani herdsmen.
He lamented that till date, since the Operation Python Dance, the Nigerian Army officials are still on ground, patrolling the residence of the groups’ erstwhile IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
Pam maintained that there is serious concern among Nigerian on why IPOB, “which poses less danger to the security of lives and properties of Nigerians and were not armed with such sophisticated weapons like that of Fulani herdsmen, should be hounded by the military.
“The question is: Why using a hammer to kill a fly while trying to use the broom to thrash an elephant or a lion? It is the intensity of the battle and level of sophistication of weapons used by the Fulani herdsmen that claimed the lives of the two mobile policemen.
“The weapons of the Fulani herdsmen are superior to those of the policemen and that brings to mind the question on whether or not President Buhari really sees every Nigerian as part of his responsibilities to guard and protect at all times.
“President Buhari, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, has the final say on issues of security. One hopes that he should do the right thing. The Fulani herdsmen have already been categorised as terrorists by the United Nations. The war against terror is very complex. The policemen had to pay the supreme price because they were not trained to handle terrorists.”
FG Was Right In Sending Policemen To Benue – ADC Chieftain
Nathaniel Dickson Osunkwo, Community leader and chieftain of the Action Democratic Congress (ADC), said: “The issue of the Fulani herdsmen borders on manslaughter, like the killing of two Mobile policemen. On the other hand the IPOB issue borders on secession and a threat to the corporate existence of the nation.
“I am an elder statesman and I abhor any action that involves killing or that leads to total breakdown of law and order.
“What happened in Awashua village in Benue State was quite unfortunate and in all civil societies across the globe, such a situation is usually handled by the police. It is only when there is a total breakdown of law and order and the police prove incapable of handling the situation that you can now draft soldiers to deal with the situation.
“To this extent, I hail the Federal Government for sending policemen to the crisis-ridden Awashua village to restore peace and order there.
“However, the same cannot be said of the IPOB protest in Abia State. I am a true Igbo man and I am above 70 years. I witnessed the three-year civil war in this country, which ended on January 12, 1970. My brother, I do not pray for a repeat of such a bloodletting period.
“I firmly believe in the continued unity and oneness of our country and I cannot identify myself with any step that will disturb us as a nation. You, know treasonable felony is a serious offence and anything that constitutes a threat to our oneness is reprehensible to the Federal Government. But, the IPOB boys did not care to know this.
“I can tell you, none of them witnessed the civil war because they had not been born by then. Otherwise, if they had witnessed what those of us saw, they would not have done what they did.
“We Igbo are the greatest stakeholders in this country, with investment scattered all over the place. If you balkanise this country, we will be the worst causalities. The Federal Government sent soldiers to contain the riotous activities of the IPOB in Abia because that was what the situation at that time demanded.
“Remember that despite the presence of the soldiers, the boys and some of the residents of Aba dared them. If the Federal Government had used the police, what do you think would have happened? “
There Is A Rabid Hatred Against Igbo
Chief Cletus Mgbokwere Nnamdi Obi, a public affairs analysts and member of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in the Second Republic, in his response, went proverbial. He said: “There is an adage in Igbo which says that what is on the palm does not need a binocular to be seen. The actions of the Federal Government in Awashua village, Benue State, and the IPOB protest in Abia State are part of the manifestation of the rabid hatred against the Igbo. One involved killing and the other was mere protest. You sent police to handle killers and soldiers to deal with ordinary protest. Is there any sense in this?
“Life is sacred and has no duplicate. Many lives were lost in Benue State. Yet the police was asked to and handle them. But, for a people who had been groaning under conspiracy, discrimination marginalisation, dichotomy and are saying ‘please, liberate us and let us go’, you sent soldiers, who are professionally trained, to kill them. My brother, I pray that God should come and liberate us.
‘Fulani Herdsmen Are Terrorists’
Dr. Ivbiore Asekhare, a Benin-based academic, said: “First of all, let me express my utmost disappointment with the Federal Government because one would have expected that by now the Federal Government would have declared the Fulani headsmen a terrorist group. What they have done and are still doing to this nation is almost what the Boko Haram group has done.
“I am close to 70 years now. I have seen headsmen right from my youth and I have never seen them with AK47 like the ones they are now carrying bout, killing and maiming innocent farmers after using their animals to destroy their crops in the farm and the security agents are seeing them, but nobody is talking. But the moment they see the local farmers from the southern part of the country going to the farms with their cutlasses and other farm implements, they arrest and charge them for illegal possession of dangerous weapons.
“If you take the statistics of the number of persons so far killed by the Fulani headsmen across the country since the inception of the this APC-led Federal Government, you will agree with me that they are worst than terrorist group. I will want the Federal Government to declare them as such.
“It was unreasonable for the government to have deployed policemen to that placed because as at the time those policemen were deployed to that local government, the official figure of casualties was already over 70 with many others seriously wounded. So, what they would have done, at least to demonstrate to Nigerians that the authorities were not taking sides, was to have deployed soldiers to the place to create fear in the minds of the rampaging headsmen.
“The IPOB did not do one quarter of what the headsmen did when they Federal Government declared them terrorist group and proscribed the group. Well, Nigerians are waiting to see what the Federal Government will do to these headsmen.
“I will like to call on the authorities that if they are not doing anything to check the menace of the headsmen, they should not also provoke anger by declaring that the massacre in Benue State was communal crisis.
“Let me quickly remind the authority that with such declaration they should know that they are insulting the intelligence of Nigerians. Without being told, every right thinking Nigerian is aware that the Benue massacre was a reaction to the anti-open grazing law enacted by the Benue State government. I will also want to advise that the Federal Government should not pretend that it was not aware that the Fulani headsmen had declared war again the farmers of this country.
“Therefore the government should do everything possible to ensure that the war does not consume this nation called Nigeria. As I am talking to you now, we are yet to be told that some people have been arrested in connection with the Benue massacre, which shows that the authorities did not see it as crime committed against humanity.”
We Should Emulate How Advanced Countries Handle Their Cattle – Oru
Dr Steve Oru, former Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, who also spoke on the roles of the Federal Government over the menace of Fulani herdsmen, said he aligned with Samuel Ortom, the governor of Benue State who said he wss not satisfied with the way the Presidency was managing the matter d.
According to him, “every time you hear people are slaughtered, farmers lose their crops, intimidated, villages burnt down, while the response from the Presidency is lukewarm and disappointing. If we use one force to fight the abuse of the system, we should use the same force to fight other abuses, not different forces. We are only promoting destruction of lives and properties if we let them to continue.”
Oru said Nigerians should see the country as belonging to all and use the same force to crush all the enemies of this nation and anything that can divide the country.
“Nigeria should be sustained as a nation, one nation without sentiments and tribalism, love one another, take to things that unite us rather than thing that divide us,” he added.
He suggested that a body should be set up at the Federal level to bring this situation to an end so that the Fulani herdsmen do not run the country amok the way it is going.
According to him, ‘’Benue and Taraba states are facing Fulani terrorism. We expect the federal government to realize that when once you get to office, you are no longer a Presidential candidate of a party but the President of the whole nation and should be responsible to protect every one, don’t run the country and turn a deaf ear to a bad situation when you know your people are the ones causing and promoting mayhem, destroying properties and killing people in a wanton manner.
‘’The old way of moving cattle from one place to the other cannot continue. They should find a new way of doing things. We should emulate the way it is done in civilised countries. We cannot continue to destroy the agricultural yields of the host communities where the herdsmen operate.”
The post Herdsmen Menace: FG Has Duty To Protect Nigerians appeared first on Independent Nigeria.
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Author: Our Correspondents