The recent resurgence of alleged killings by herdsmen in Benue state and other parts of the country is a deeply disturbing development. The brutal attacks on innocent civilians have resulted in the loss of many lives and the displacement of countless others.
We recall that 46 persons were reportedly killed recently as suspected armed herders unleashed a deadly attack on the Umogidi community of Entekpa Adoka district in the Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue State.
The fresh attack came a day after suspected herders were reported to have invaded the community and killed three persons.
Before the pain and anguish generated by this dastardly act could subside, the Igbobi community in the neighbouring Apa Local Government Area of the state was also attacked, with three persons said to have lost their lives.
The Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom had earlier revealed that over 130 persons were killed by suspected armed herdsmen across the state in ten days.
Similarly, chairman, Apa Development Association, Barr. Eche Akpoko, disclosed that 89 persons have been reportedly killed in 31 communities in Apa local government area of the beleaguered state from January to date. Curiously, in our view, not much is being done by security operatives to end this mindless blood letting.
In his reaction to the killings in Benue,President Muhammadu Buhari urged that all efforts should be made to end the “extreme violence.” He condemned the use of terrorism as a tool in inter communal conflicts and urged that the attackers must be found and dealt with swiftly under the law.
He conveyed his grief and sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives due to the attack and directed the secret services, police and military commanders to enhance surveillance on every front and to immediately review the security management in the affected areas.
In the considered opinion of this newspaper, we strongly suggest that as a nation, there ought to be a concerted effort directed at putting an end to this senseless violence and ensure that all Nigerians can live in peace and security.
The problem of killings by herdsmen in the country is not a new one. For years, there have been reports of violent clashes between farmers and herdsmen over grazing land and water resources.
However, the recent escalation in the violence, particularly against IDPs, is a cause for great concern.
The situation in Benue state is particularly alarming. The state has been at the forefront of the struggle against violent acts perpetrated by herdsmen with many communities bearing the brunt of the violence. Despite the efforts of the state government to provide security and assistance to affected communities, the attacks continue unabated.
We are worried that the approach of security agencies in dealing with the problem is not working as effectively and efficiently as it should. The federal government must adopt a more proactive and comprehensive result-yielding method towards ending the ongoing menace by herdsmen.
This must include addressing the root causes of the conflict, such as the issue of grazing land and water resources.
Some have suggested the establishment of dedicated grazing reserves for herdsmen. This would provide a designated area for grazing, reducing the need for herdsmen to encroach on farmland and water sources. However, the establishment of grazing reserves alone will not be sufficient to end the violence.
We strongly suggest that the government must also take steps to disarm and prosecute those who engage in violent acts. We have repeatedly said on this page that violent crimes continue to fester in the country because there are no repercussion for bad behaviours .This has to stop .
In our view, it is unacceptable for anyone to take the law into their own hands and commit acts of violence against innocent civilians. The government must send a clear message that such actions will not be tolerated.
In addition, there is a need for greater collaboration between different stakeholders in addressing the problem of herdsmen killings. This includes government agencies, civil society organisations, traditional leaders, and community members. By working together, we can develop a comprehensive and sustainable solution to the problem.
Indeed, we must also recognise that the problem of herdsmen killings is not unique to Nigeria. Many countries in Africa have faced similar challenges. We can learn from their experiences and adopt best practices to address the problem in Nigeria.
Furthermore,we must also address the underlying socio-economic issues that contribute to the problem. Many herdsmen are poor and marginalized, with limited access to education and economic opportunities. By addressing these issues, we can reduce the risk of conflict and violence.
In view of the foregoing, the recent resurgence of killings by herdsmen in Benue state and other parts of the country is a cause for great concern. It is time for the federal government and all stakeholders to take decisive action to end the violence and ensure that all Nigerians can live in peace and security.