Incessant Fulani herdsmen’s killings
November 1, 2017 | 12:50 am| | | Start Conversation
Since the return of President Buhari from the latest round of medical trip to the United Kingdom, the killings by Fulani herdsmen seem to have resumed in earnest. On September 8, herdsmen attacked Ancha village in Bassa LG of Plateau State killing at least 20 people and injuring 5 others. Over the past weeks the rampaging herdsmen have staged audacious attacks in Bassa, Jos North, Barkin Ladi, Riyom and Bokkos local governments where countless people have been raped and or killed and villages sacked.
In 2015, the Global Terrorism Index ranked the Fulani herdsmen as the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world with 80 victims in 2013 and 1, 229 victims in 2014. However, since 2015, the numbers have risen astronomically. Sadly, according to the administration, it is the peaceful secessionist group – the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) – that is yet to kill a single person before the army began its crackdown on them – that was listed as a terrorist organisation by the Nigerian government.
True, over the past two years, precisely since the coming to power of President Mohammadu Buhari, Fulani cattle rearers have virtually replaced the dreaded Boko Haram as the new terrorists on the bloc. They have literarily gone amok, killing and destroying communities all over the country. From Benue to Plateau, Taraba, Enugu, Delta, and Ekiti, Oyo, Niger, the story has remained the same. Fulani gunmen invade communities at the thick of the night or when the men have gone to farms in the mornings, killing defenceless and innocent women, children, the old and infirm, looting and burning the communities for fun.
Shockingly, the reaction of the government to these killings have followed one trend: deafening silence at first and only half-hearted response that fails to stop the killings and refusal or inability to apprehend the killers and bring them to justice. What is worse, anytime the president has responded, it is in such terms as to create moral equivalency between the herdsmen and their victims. Thus terms like “farmers versus herdsmen clashes” and “attacks and reprisal attacks by one group against the other” have come to dominate official government response to such frequent killings.
But much more worrisome and damaging to the integrity of the Nigerian state are the allegations of bias and complicity in the killings being levelled against the security forces. The military, for instance, was accused of complicity in the killings of 29 persons, including women and children in Nkiedonwhro community in Plateau state. According to the story, the army gathered some young men, women and children in the classroom of a primary school and promised them protection but left for a pursue the so-called Fulani attackers who turned round to killed all the people under the army’s protection. The army did not deny the killing. Their excuse was that they were overwhelmed by the numerical strength and tactics of the attackers. How puerile!
Beyond the huge reputational issues involved, the inability of government to protect citizens and the perception of bias has now encouraged communities to begin to arm themselves for self- defence when the need arises. A situation where people resort to self-help shows clearly that they have lost faith with the ability of the state to ensure justice in the country. This can only lead to anarchy and chaos. Nigeria cannot afford such a scenario.
We urge the government to do a thorough self-introspection and begin to take measures to strengthen its capacity for maintenance of law and order and ensuring that justice is done to all wronged parties promptly to strengthen their belief and faith in the rule of law and the legal process.
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