Again, and as if in stubborn defiance, ethnic militancy is back in full force and threatening to take over the centre stage of national life. The sponsors of this brutal tendency are conducting themselves as persons above the law in various parts of the country. Their activities have attracted mixed reactions as their supporters hail them as heroes while the victims of their illegalities count their losses.
Emboldened by the apparent mass support they enjoy, they have gone further to dish out various unpatriotic and divisive statements, and in some cases, giving quit notices to certain ethnic groups to leave places where they have lived all their lives.
As if Nigeria has become a jungle, these ethnic bigots have gone further to take the laws into their own hands by going ahead to enforce such eviction orders by burning down settlements of their targets. In other situations, these ethnic warriors have taken over whole farmlands or blocked farmers from accessing their farms.
While they wreak havoc on their victims, destroy property worth millions of naira and render their victims homeless, government at various levels and the security agencies are seemingly lost on how to manage the looming crisis.
The most recent is the emergence of one Sunday Adeyemo also known as Sunday Igboho from the South West and another Wakili Iskilu, a Fulani herder, alleged to be destroying and occupying farmlands in Ikoyi-Ile community in Orire local government area of Oyo State in retaliation of Igboho’s burning and displacement of his Fulani kinsmen in Igangan area of the state.
In the South East, Nnamdi Kanu, of the outlawed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) through his foot soldiers is still wreaking havoc in the region. Fresh attacks on Fulani settlements, clashes with security agents, burning of police stations and other public buildings in Igboland have been linked to IPOB. In the Niger Delta region, where the government had pacified militants with an amnesty programme, some aggrieved agitators are still threatening the peace and oil installation in the region while in the North West, bandits, without a particular demand on the state, have turned the killing of innocent Nigerians and the destruction of their property into a game. Sadly, the security agencies are not taking charge of the situation so as to bring these miscreants to justice.
Surprisingly, as a newspaper, we are shocked the elite, who benefit largely from the existence of a united Nigeria, have maintained an unholy silence. The very few, who have spoken, did so with twisted tongues.
While we are not against people defending and seeking justice for their ethnic groups, we however deplore the resort to violence to achieve such goals, which when properly scrutinised, are personal and selfish.
We also condemn the failure of the state to act fast to protect and defend law-abiding citizens. Perhaps, if the authorities had acted swiftly when criminals masquerading as Fulani herders were killing and kidnapping innocent people in Igangan area of Oyo State and destroying farmlands in Ondo State, the likes of Sunday Igboho would never have emerged and become the people’s hero. In same way, the likes of Governor Akeredolu of Ondo State would not have asked supposedly Fulani herdsmen to leave the state’s forest.
As we blame the government for watching the situation almost deteriorate, aggrieved Nigerians resort to self-help, we strongly believe, will worsen the whole scenario. However, we are cautiously optimistic that the situation can be salvaged if the government acts fast by calling all the ethnic jingoists to order. They must not be allowed to afflict further pains on Nigerians for their own selfish desires.
Notwithstanding, we are of the opinion that the law must take its full cause to send a message to other ethnic champions that they are not above the law. The security agencies must wake up from their apparent slumber. In a situation where Igbo threaten to evict the Fulani and did so without any intervention by the security agencies make them accomplices in the crime. In the same manner, the way Iskilu operates unhindered and occupies whole community with his cows and armed members without any arrest by the security agents is a minus for them and the government.
We, therefore, charge the government to rise and ensure the safety of all Nigerians wherever they live. The government must rekindle the citizens’ faith in an indivisible Nigeria and a country where the rule of law prevails. Anything short of this, will give room for the likes of Igboho and Iskilu to do whatever they desire and enjoy the support of their gullible kinsmen. The present situation must not be allowed to degenerate further.