President Muhammadu Buhari is currently on fire over his government’s passive approach to the wanton killings and destruction of properties by the rampaging Fulani herdsmen in some parts of the country.
Although there existed pockets of clashes between herdsmen and farming communities before this government came to power, but since President Buhari assumed office, the herdsmen have turned themselves into marauders group sending to early graves over 3,000 people.
Mostly affected by the atrocities of the herdsmen are Benue, Taraba, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Enugu, Ekiti Delta and Imo states. But among these states, it is Benue that has received the greatest hit by the Fulani herdsmen.
Between December 2017 and January this year over 200 people have been sent to their early graves by the Fulani herdsmen in Benue, Taraba and other states.
The latest attacks on six villages in Benue on new year day and a few days after has angered Nigerians and they have risen up in one accord to condemn the killings and the Federal Government indifference to this heinous act. They have warned of the looming danger of the activities of the herdsmen, which threaten the corporate existence of Nigeria.
Leader of Benue State caucus in the House of Representative and Chairman House Committee on Rules and Business, Emmanuel Orker-Jev, said the latest attacks have pushed the people of the state to the wall hence any action by the federal government short of ending the carnage will not be accepted. He stressed that the attacks are a deliberate plan to exterminate the people of Benue and decried the incompetency of the security agencies in allowing the dastard act to be committed repeatedly right before their nose.
The National president of the National Union of Benue State Students (NUBESS), Ms Vera Akase, has threatened retaliation should the federal government fail to curb the incessant killings of their people by Fulani herdsmen and also arrest all the leaders of Miyetti Allah who had earlier dared the governor to implement the anti-grazing law.
Ms Akase said it was curious that the Buhari-led government has been treating with kid gloves the threat of Miyetti Allah and the killings by Fulani herdsmen in some parts of the country especially Benue.
It could be recalled that the President of Miyetti Allah, Ganus Ololo, was recently quoted saying the attacks were necessitated by the stealing of 1, 000 cows by the communities.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has also come hard on President Buhari over the menace of fulani herdsmen. Rev Samson Ayokunle, President of CAN who decried the killings all over the country has warned that if the federal government continue to pay lip service to it, the situation could degerate into a civil war.
He said though President Buhari’s government had taken battle to several groups that threatened the peace, unity and security of the nation, it has not demonstrated any serious concerted effort to stop the heinous activities of the Fulani herdsmen. He said the last two years have recorded unprecedented killings by the criminal Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram.
Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, former President of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), said the president has to show leadership as that was lacking in this government. He said he was in Tanzania recently and saw cattles everywhere with the herdsmen but they were not creating the kind of problems Fulani herdsmen have created in Nigeria.
Agbakoba emphasized that the concept of peaceful co-existence is very important in Nigeria. “The president needs to show leadership by working within the framework of peaceful co-existence because without peace Nigeria cannot go anywhere. As the president of Nigeria, Buhari has a responsibility to set the pace and then we all will follow.”
Ekiti state Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has also reacted to the latest attack of Fulani herdsmen in Benue. Fayose who described the Fulani herdsmen as terrorists said the killings has gotten to the level of terrorism and ethnic cleansing noting that the issue was getting out of hand.
Gov. Fayose said “What is happening in Benue and other middle-belt States is more than a strive between herdsmen and local farmers, it has gotten to the level of terrorism and ethnic cleansing. FG must act now. Just now, we heard news of the herdsmen attacking the camp of Mobile policemen, Mopol 13 in Benue, killing two officers by slitting their throats. Do you call people who could invade the camp of mobile policemen in a guerilla manner and overpower armed Mopol mere Fulani herdsmen?” What is happening in Benue and other states in the North-central is an issue that the President Buhari must have to take decisive steps. We never had killings like these under previous administrations. It is one killing too many!”
He said the silence of the people does not amount to their inability to defend themselves. And it should be known to the powers that be that everybody in Nigeria has rights to life. He urged the federal government to rise up an act otherwise Nigerians will begin to see the herdsmen as the APC hit group.
Prof. Wole Soyinka, has also joined in berating the Buhari government in the way he is handling the Fulani herdsmen atrocities across the country.
He criticized President Buhari for the failure of his government to blame and act decisively against Fulani herdsmen for the recent killing in Benue and Taraba. He said he has noted with dismay the increase in attacks and killings in farming communities in Taraba, Benue, Adamawa and Kaduna states.
In his piece entitled ‘Impunity Rides Again,’ he berated Buhari’s government reluctance to blame the herdsmen for the series of killings.
Prof Soyinka said government excuses for the cause of the conflict despite the admission by the herdsmen that they were responsible for the attacks and killings amounted to exonerating the killers. He also had harsh words for the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, over his comment that successive government had failed to pay attention to herdsmen and cow farming as is done to cassava and millet farmers.
The Nobel Laurette noted that the national outrage was as a result of the refusal of government to bring the perpetuators to book. He said the foot dragging by government to act decisively and punish the killer herdsmen contradicts its swiftness in declaring the separatist group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a terrorist organization despite the fact that IPOB is not known to have committed widespread killings like the Fulani herdsmen.
Similarly IPOB blamed the President Buhari-led administration for taking the continuous killings by the Fulani herdsmen as normal and the under reportage of the atrocities of Fulani herdsmen by the international media like BBC, CNN and Alzeejera.
IPOB’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, in a statement said the media houses’ under reportage of the killings was part of the international conspiracy to subdue non-Muslims.
IPOB, however, condemned the recent killings in Rivers and Benue states, adding that the group wondered why the Federal Government was reluctant to deploy soldiers in Benue, Taraba and Kaduna states where herdsmen had killed scores of people.
“The killing of the innocent has become the norm under this present All Progressives Congress government led by Major General Muhammadu Buhari.
“More shocking is the fact that world media like CNN, FOX, BBC, Al Jazeera, NBC, ABC etc have remained conspiratorially silent on these horror shows played out in predominantly Christian towns and villages; probably because those being killed are not Muslims.
“We are bombarded daily with news about the suffering of Rohingya people and threats of economic and military sanctions against Myanmar but something far more sinister is happening in Nigeria and especially in Biafraland with no iota of coverage from leading media houses around the world because those being killed in Nigeria are non-Muslims. Only when Muslim populations are affected do we see international condemnations and sanctions.”
“We are certain that Aso Rock merely ordered the IG of Police to relocate the 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.”
“If the Nigerian government and her security agencies are sincere about tackling the menace of murderous Fulani herdsmen, they must also deploy their soldiers in Benue and Taraba states with the same shoot on sight order they readily apply against peaceful Biafran agitators,” Powerful said.
Other Nigerians that have joined in condemning the government for not acting enough on the Fulani herdsmen issue are Senator Shehu Sani, Alhaji Yerima Shetima, Leader Arewa Youth Consultative Forum and Femi Fani-Kayode, former Aviation minister.
Apart from the latest attacks in Benue, the state suffered the greatest carnage from the hands of the Fulani herdsmen in 2016 when they invaded Agatu community and killed over 500 people.
Last year the herdsmen abducted and killed the royal majesty Akase Ofulue 111 of Ubulu-Uku in Delta state.
The President had recently ordered the deployment of security personnel to the area and also mandated the police Inpector-General to relocate to Benue. The federal government is also mooting the idea of a cattle colony as a measure to check the problem. While some states like Ekiti and recently Benue have passed the anti-grazing law to check the menace of the Fulani herdsmen.