By Jonathan- Isaiah, BODE GBADEBO, Abuja, ACHOR ABIMAJE, Jos and AZA MSUE, Kaduna
Governors of the 19 northern states have expressed concern over the current system of herding conducted mainly through open grazing, saying it is no longer sustainable in view of growing urbanization and population of the country.
At an emergency virtual meeting of the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) to discuss issues affecting the region and the nation in general, the governors pointed out that consequently, it has resolved to aggressively sensitise herdsmen on the need to adapt new methods of herding by ranching or other acceptable modern methods.
The communiqué issued in Jos and personally signed by its chairman and governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, appealed to the federal government to support states with grants to directly undertake pilot projects of modern livestock production that will serve as springboard and evidence for breaking resistance to the full implementation of new methods of livestock production.
The forum noted the tension generated by the eviction order issued to herdsmen in some parts of the country, and expressed concern that it amounted to heating the already fragile security atmosphere with threats of reprisals which the northern governors are working assiduously to contain.
“There is urgent need for the Nigerian Governors Forum to meet and discuss the issue holistically with a view to resolving all areas of misunderstanding and conflicts arising from these threats and suspicion for the sake of national unity,” the communiqué noted.
The governors resolved to engage elders and youths in a robust discussion with a view to dousing the tensed security environment in the North.
Accordingly, they set up a four-man committee to be headed by the chairman of the Northern Governors Forum.
The governors also called for restraint from leaders, including those in the southern parts of the country where passions are high.
Similarly, they called on all the citizens of the North to continue to live in peace with all Nigerians irrespective of their origins and backgrounds.
On some of its committee reports that are at various stages of completion, they resolved that all such reports should be turned in before the next meeting scheduled for the end of February in Kaduna where the reports will be discused.
On security in the region and the nation, the forum noted the growing wave of insecurity in the country, particularly as it relates to circulation of unverified video clips on social media portraying violent attacks on persons in some parts of the country.
They called on political leaders to segregate between criminality and social groups in their domains with a view to treating criminals as criminals, just as they condemned every form of criminality whether from herders, hunters, or farmers occupying forest reserves illegally.
The governors also congratulated the new service chiefs on their recent appointments and resolved to collaborate with them in enhancing the security of the region and the nation at large.
The communiqué further noted that in its quest to acquire
COVID-19 testing mobile vehicles, the governors received briefing on the procurement of the vehicles which is still ongoing, with the first batch about to be received.
They resolved to revalidate all requests made by member states in 2020.
Herdsmen Crisis Needs Political Intervention – Senate
Meanwhile, the Senate president, Ahmad Lawan, yesterday called on Nigerian leaders to unite against criminality occasioned by the activities of bandits and kidnappers as well as resist the antics of divisive elements bent on instigating inter-ethnic tensions across the country.
Lawan made the call in a special message at plenary to welcome senators from the Christmas/New Year holiday.
“Insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and militancy remain serious threats to a secured and safe Nigeria”, he said, noting that they are challenges which require the collaborative efforts of the legislature and the executive to tackle.
Lawan, while appealing to Nigerians for calm in view of the recent inter-tribal agitations and conflicts in some states in the South West part of the country, described the development as “worrisome” and one that requires the immediate intervention of the political leaders.
“Distinguished colleagues, the very recent emergence of inter-ethnic and inter–tribal conflicts in some parts of our country is worrisome. The Senate calls for calm. The situation also calls for leadership at all levels of government.
“Leaders must unite to fight and defeat criminality in the country. Leaders must also unite to fight any divisive and centrifugal sentiments and tendencies”, he said.
Emphasising the need for legislative interventions to douse the heightening inter-ethnic tension in the country, Lawan disclosed that the National Assembly would collaborate with all tiers of government towards finding a lasting solution to the problem.
He continued: “Political leaders are problem solvers. As parliamentarians, we should search for possible legislations to address the issues that tend to create tensions amongst our people.
“We are going to consult and partner with all arms and tiers of governments in our quest to finding lasting solutions to these ugly developments.”
The Senate president also appealed to Nigerians to ensure the
responsible use of various social media platforms in a way that fosters unity and dissuades strife and conflict.
“Let me take the opportunity to appeal to citizens to always use the social media for enhancing unity and brotherhood amongst Nigerians.
“Surely, the social media platforms can play very positive roles of engendering understanding amongst our diverse people”, Lawan said.
‘PMB Not Lenient Towards Criminal Herdsmen’
Meanwhile, a group known as friends of the presidency has dismissed insinuations that President Muhammadu Buhari is lenient towards criminal herdsmen.
The group also took a swipe at Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, who made the allegation, just as it maintained that the president is a fair minded leader.
In a statement signed by the chairman, Nigeria Project Initiative, Mohammed Salihu; chairman, Initiative to Save Democracy, Akinloye James and president, Global Economic Policy Initiative,
Chief Bernard Okri, the group pointed out that under the Buhari government the climate of impunity has been banished.
The statement reads: “We react to the widely circulated attack on the president by the governor of Benue state, Samuel Ortom, the summary of which is the allegation that President Muhammadu Buhari is towards criminal herdsmen.
“As friends of the presidency, we like to defend the president by saying that contrary to the wrong assertion of the governor, President Buhari is a patriotic, nationalistic and fair-minded leader who, at all times, is ready to defend the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“He is a leader committed to the defense of the rights of all citizens, majority and minority, including ethnic and religious minorities; and meting out justice without fear or favour when crimes are committed. Under the Buhari government, the climate of impunity has been banished.
“Governor Ortom is himself a witness to this when Benue state suffered attacks by criminal herdsmen and bandits. President Buhari travelled to Makurdi, addressed communities, offered sympathy and support and ordered law enforcement agencies to take action against the criminals.
We Must Resist Any Attempt To Destroy Nigeria’s Unity – Osinbajo
Meanwhile, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called on Nigerians to resist any attempt to destroy the unity of this country.
The vice president, while speaking on the nation’s challenges of insecurity and criminality in Ikenne, Ogun State, where he participated in the ongoing APC membership and revalidation exercise said, “Our people have lived and worked together for decades, even centuries.
While we must attend to the cries of communities and the cries of our people for justice, equity, and fairness, we can do so within this same union. Ultimately we are stronger together than apart.”
Osinbajo stated that despite the security challenges, the values of justice, equity and fairness across communities nationwide can be addressed within the Nigerian union.
Osinbajo, who was received by party leaders and members led by Ogun State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, urged Nigerians to “resist any attempts to destroy the unity of this country, adding that, “Our people have lived and worked together for decades.”
On the efforts of the Buhari administration to tackle the country’s security challenges, Prof Osinbajo noted that greater emphasis is being placed on technology for surveillance, intelligence gathering and attack.
He explained that with the appointment of new service chiefs, the nation’s security approach has “fresh set of eyes, intellect and skills and a fresh look at strategies against the insurgency in the North East, as well as banditry and kidnapping elsewhere.”
The VP said that the establishment of a State Police structure and stronger collaboration between the security agencies and justice ministries will help to improve security nationwide.
Bandits Kill 23 In 5 Kaduna Communities
Meanwhile, Kaduna State government yesterday said it has received reports from security agencies of the killing of 23 citizens in different attacks on soft targets in Birnin Gwari, Giwa, Chikun, Igabi and Kauru local government areas.
In a statement issued by Samuel Aruwan, commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, noted that the attacks on soft targets in these local government areas occurred around Kaduna state’s boundaries with neighbouring states.
Aruwan said in Birnin Gwari council area, 10 citizens were killed by bandits in an attack on Ungwan Gajere, Kutemeshi ward, “They are Abdu Hasan, Sufyanu Musa, Faisal Zubairu, Abdullahi Hasan, Ali Abdu, Rabiu Aliyu, Zubairu Yau, Bukar Yusuf, Mamman Ibrahim and Dankande Musa.
He stated: “The following were injured in the attack, Baushi Alu, Rabe Sani, and Usama Sani.”
The statement explained further that in Igabi local government area, bandits shot dead one Dayyabu Yahuza between Sarkin Baka and Dankyawai village, near Gidan Kurmi, noting that in Giwa local government area, armed bandits invaded Janbaba village, and one Yakubu Sule was shot dead.
“In Kishisho village, Kauru local government area, gunmen suspected to be from a neighbouring state killed five persons listed as Danlami Sunday, Abbas Abou, Sati Yakubu, Shaba John, and John Francis.”
Aruwan said in Chikun local government area, five citizens were killed by bandits in Gwagwada-Kasaya village in Kunai ward.
He stated: “They are Habila Ibrahim, Samaila Audu, John Musa, Birnin Aboki and Ali Aboki. Similarly, in Agwa, Chikun LGA, one Bitrus Joseph was shot dead in an attack by bandits.
“Also in Chikun local government area, one bandit was killed near Bugai, when members of the community repelled an attack.”
The statement said that, while receiving the reports, Governor Nasir el-Rufai, expressed sadness over the attacks.
Aruwan also hinted that the air platforms of the Nigerian Air Force were trailing and engaging bandits in some locations in Chikun, Birnin Gwari, Giwa and Igabi LGAs, and citizens will be briefed upon the receipt of operational feedback.