President Muhammadu Buhari is poised to take on killer herdsmen head on the way he dealt with the Boko Haram insurgents in Northeast geopolitical zone where sustained action from the government prevailed until the menace was finally contained, the presidency said yesterday.
Accordingly, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Kpotum-Idris, has relocated to Benue State on the orders of the president that he should quickly restore law and order, prevent further loss of lives and forestall the crisis from escalating and spreading in the state.
The presidency faulted those accusing Buhari of condoning the killings by the killer herdsmen, saying while whipping up hate may captivate the public and score political points on social media, it will in no way put an end to the crisis.
In a statement issued by senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, the presidency noted that the president seeks the support and cooperation of all Nigerians, especially the media, to join hands with his administration to find lasting solutions to the killings instead of aggravating and escalating tensions in all conflict areas of the country.
Shehu said, “It will be recalled that as he did in dealing with the Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria, which required sustained action from the government before it was finally curtailed, President Buhari gave the relevant mandates to the country’s security agencies to put a stop to the Benue killings.
The killings must stop and the security agencies have the President’s support to do this as quickly as possible. Whipping up hate may captivate the public and score political points on social media, but it will not bring an end to the crisis.
“Let every stakeholder instead sit down with the government and security forces and carry everyone along in finding an all-embracing solution.
As a father, a military General and a statesman, He said President Buhari has maintained lasting relationships with Nigerians, Muslims and Christians among every ethnic group.
“It is also a known fact that the young people who trek the whole distance of thousands of kilometers tending the cattle do not own the cattle. In fact, many of the cattle are not owned by Fulanis or Muslims. The point is that it is too simplistic to see the conflict as ethnic or religious”.
And to find short term and long term solutions to the incessant conflicts between farmers and cattle rearers, the presidency said it is coming up with a conference of stakeholders on infrastructural and agricultural development to put in place a plan for immediate relief and long term plan for the expansion of agriculture in the country.
Shehu explained that the conference will tap into experiences and best practices to draw up a planned development of 20-30 years ahead based on population and development projections, while taking into consideration environmental impacts so as to find a lasting solution to the menace.
He said President Buhari has been concerned about the conflicts each time he receives gruesome pictures of mayhem from several parts of the country, especially as it affects Benue and neighbouring states.
The presidential spokesman continued: “He is equally worried about some public pronouncements and finger-pointing that are, in most cases very unhelpful to peaceful coexistence of our diverse peoples.
“The president is conscious of his duty to Nigerians, not least because he is held accountable for everything that goes wrong. He deeply sympathizes with the families and all the other direct and indirect victims of this violence. He is determined to bring it to a permanent end.
“While there are many Nigerians who see the conflict between the nomadic herdsmen and peasant farmers as an ethnic problem, others point to religious differences and agenda. The President does not subscribe to such simplistic reductionism”.
Shehu further noted that President Buhari holds the view of many experts that the farmer/herders conflicts are more often than not, as a result of major demographic changes in Nigeria.
He recalled that when Nigeria attained independence, the population of the country was estimated at about 63,000,000, a figure that has tripled up to 200,000,000 over the years.
Noting that, while the land size has not changed and will not change, urban sprawl and development have simply reduced land area both for peasant farming and cattle grazing.
The presidential spokesman pointed out that it is therefore both unfair and unkind for anyone to keep insinuating that the president is condoning the spate of killings in Benue and other neighboring states.
He stated: “President Buhari has publicly condemned the violence at every turn. He is prepared to permit every possible step that can lead to the stoppage of the killings.
“It is on account of this he brushed aside an opinion that the federal government should challenge the constitutionality of the anti-open grazing bill. He wanted to give a chance to the State government to succeed in stopping the senseless killings”.
President Orders IGP To Move To Benue
Meanwhile, following the directives of President Buhari, the Inspector General of Police has moved to Benue State to restore law and order, prevent further loss of lives and forestall the crisis from escalating and spreading in the state.
The IGP moved into Benue state with additional five units of Police Mobile Force (PMF), making a total of ten units of PMF deployed in the State, which is in addition to other Police formations on the ground in the state before the crisis.
The Force PRO, CSP Jimoh Moshood, who disclosed this, “More units of the Police Special Forces, Counter Terrorism Units, and Conventional Policemen are already being deployed to the state as at yesterday to comply in totality with the presidential order.
“The Aerial Surveillance by Police Helicopters will continue, while the Police Mobile Force Personnel, Police Special Forces and conventional Police Personnel, the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU), Police Explosive Ordinance Department (EOD) and Special Police Joint Intelligence and Investigation Teams already deployed to Benue State will carry on un-relentlessly with the patrols and crime prevention activities in the affected areas to sustain the normalcy that have been restored in the state”.
The FPRO also stated that the Force will not hesitate to deal decisively with trouble makers, any group or individual for conduct likely to instigate the escalation of the crisis.
“The full weight of the law will be applied on anyone arrested for being responsible for the mayhem in the affected areas in the State”, he added.
Police Parade 19 Cattle Rustlers
Also, the Nigeria Police Force yesterday paraded 19 suspected cattle rustlers, armed robbers and kidnappers who have been terrorising Abuja-Jere-Kaduna axis.
The suspects are Bature Adamu, Sani Nasiru, Samaila Yahaya, who admitted to have sold three AK47 Rifles to kidnappers; Buhari Abubakar, Kabiru Abubakar, Abdulrashid Riba aka Baba Wakili (admitted to have sold five AK47 to kidnappers); Sani Umar and Sani Nasiru.
Others are Ibrahim Sulaiman, Yahaya Abdullahi aka Kechi, Bello Anji, Ahmed Abubakar, Adamu Lawan, Audu Lawan, Usman Mohammed, Ahmadu Abdullahi, Yahuza Yahuba, Abubakar Abba and Adamu Haruna.
Exhibits recovered from the suspects are eight AK47 Riffles, 320 7.56mm AK47 ammunition, 16 live Cartridges, one GPMG ammunition with magazine, two pairs of Military Uniforms, Charms and Car breaking/unlocking tools.
The IGP-Intelligence Response Team attached to Operation Absolute Sanity, working on actionable intelligence and in compliance with IGP’s directives to rid Abuja-Jere-Kaduna-Zaria highways and other major roads within FCT, Niger and Kaduna of kidnappers, Armed Robbers and Cattle Rustlers, was said to have arrested the above mentioned gangs responsible for several Kidnappings including that of one Imam Hakeem Kosoko and others on Abuja – Kaduna Roads.
In a statement issued yesterday, Force PRO, CSP Jimoh Moshood, said, “Most of the suspects were arrested in the act after exchange of gun fire with the personnel of the IGP-Intelligence Response Team attached to Operation Absolute Sanity in their hideout along Kaduna – Abuja Road. Four victims were rescued from their captivity and have been reunited with their families.
“The suspects arrested confessed and admitted the various criminal roles they played in the commission of the crimes and investigation is ongoing to arrest other members of the gangs at large. The suspects will be arraigned in Court for prosecution on completion of investigation”.
Stop The Mass Killing Now, NLC Tells FG
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has urged the federal government to immediately put in place measures to end the mass killings by killer herdsmen in different parts of the country.
The Congress in a statement by its president, Ayuba Wabba, said workers are upset at the rate of serial killings around the country, notably in Benue, Nasarawa, Adamawa, Rivers and Taraba States.
He said Nigerians are more worried that these mass murders have continued unabated as if security agencies are helpless.
“These killings have not only threatened security of lives and properties but constitutes a major impediment to the much needed growth and development of the country as regular work in both informal and formal sectors of the economy have grimly been hampered while the economy groans”, he stated.
Wabba further stated that the NLC does not think it would be right for the security agencies to ignore the dangers of allowing the unhindered escalation of the fatal attacks that can not in any way be downplayed as mere communal clashes the same way similar incidents were allowed to grow into terror gangs such as Boko Haram insurgents who were eventually declared as terrorist groups of global attention.
The statement further noted: “We believe the Federal Government must rise up to its responsibility by directing appropriate security agencies to urgently apprehend the situation. No part of the country is of less consequence to our national development and therefore the responsibility of securing all lives and properties in our country is squarely placed as the full responsibility of the Federal Government.
“Government must not be perceived to be uninterested in ensuring peace and security in any part of the country for any reason. Those attacking the communities are not ghosts and should not be left untouchable. No government will survive the advent of another terrorist group in our country. Mass killing is enough a symptom of terrorism and we can’t afford to have our country classified as a safe haven for terrorist groups as these will scare off the much needed foreign investment in our country”.
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