Buhari’s deafening silence over deadly herdsmen stirs more worry

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FG failure to tackle herdsmen farmer crises worsens conflict

Calls for President Muhammadu Buhari to double down on the menace of armed Fulani herdsmen across the country are getting louder.

The activities of the armed herdsmen who have gone on a killing spree have not worsened the state of insecurity across the country and curbed agricultural output, but also a needless headache for an economy reeling from a second economic recession in five years.

There has been rampant kidnapping of people, attacks on communities and killing of Nigerians in different parts of Nigeria by the herdsmen.

Between 2017 and May 2020, Fulani herdsmen conducted 654 attacks, killed 2,539 and kidnapped 253 people in Nigeria, a report by José Luis Bazán, an independent researcher and analyst, based in Brussels, Belgium.

Escalating conflict between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria is “six times deadlier” than Boko Haram-related attacks, posing a great threat to the country’s stability, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG) which has long urged the Federal government to prosecute perpetrators of violence.

Samuel Ortom, governor of Benue State is the latest to throw his weight behind calls asking President Muhammadu Buhari to act decisively in curbing the activities of the herdsmen.

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Ortom, who spoke to journalists at the Government House, Makurdi after a successful recovery from COVID-19 infection that had kept him in isolation, said the current insecurity being witnessed across the country was being fuelled by the herdsmen.

“This country belongs to all of us and the presidency must act fast because time is going,” Ortom said.

“From the North West, North East, North Central, South West, South East and South South, there is general insecurity and this is being propelled by herdsmen,” Ortom said.

Ortom had made a petition to the presidency and all security agencies in the past that if they want peace, the leadership of Miyetti Allah must be arrested.

Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria is a loose partisan advocacy group centered on promoting the welfare of Fulani pastoralists in Nigeria.

“These are people who have taken responsibility that they have killed, maimed, raped and committed all sorts of atrocities and yet their leadership is in Abuja and nobody is confronting them,” Ortom said.

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Ortom questioned the federal government’s silence about the Fulani men and asked when the federal government would come out to criticize and arrest them for carrying AK-47s, the possession of which is illegal for many Nigerians.

“At a point in time, the Federal Government came out with a policy through the police that even those with licensed guns, double barrels and pop action should surrender to the police, how many times has the presidency come out to condemn the Fulani men for carrying AK-47 all over the place? This is not correct,” Ortom, who accused the Federal government of being biased and unfair, said.

“What I perceive is that the president is not aware of this because if he was aware, he would stop it,” he added.

Enyi Abaribe, a Nigerian senator was also critical of the role of the Federal Government as the herdsmen continue on their rampage.

“Why will the federal government never agree that all those who are carrying AK47 and killing people are terrorists yet it was so easy to quickly go to court to get an injunction and declare IPOB as terrorist, that means that in the mindset of those who are running this country today, they see some people as their enemies,” Abaribe said.

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“They have not come out of the civil war over 50 years later, they are still fighting the civil war,” Abaribe added.

Violence between the Fulani herdsmen, who are mostly Muslims, and predominantly Christian farmers in the central state dates back to 2013.

But killings by armed herdsmen, believed to be Fulani on farming settlements in central states are on the rise.

The conflict is fundamentally a land-use contest between farmers and herders across the country’s Middle Belt but has taken on dangerous religious and ethnic dimensions.

The government needs to “prosecute perpetrators of violence, disarm ethnic militias and local vigilantes,” the ICG stated in a report, in addition to implementing long-term herding reforms in the region.

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