By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief Luka Binniyat & Gabriel Ewepu
Disarm them now — Audu Ogbe
KADUNA — GUNMEN, suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, on Sunday night, assassinated the District Head of Fadan Karshi, a busy commercial town in Sanga Local Government Area, southern part of Kaduna State.
The murdered District Head, Mr. Bala Madaki, 66, was killed alongside his nephew, Emmanuel Tanko.
According to a community leader in the area, Pastor Mike Makarfi, the violence took place around 10:30pm Sunday night.
He said: “It was very hot last night (Sunday night) and people were sleeping outside. Around 10 p.m., the chief moved into his house with his family. Then some gunmen who our people said were Fulani, stormed his compound and started shooting.
“They went into his room and shot him point blank. They also shot a small boy, Emmanuel Tanko, who was writing his final year secondary school exams. The boy was the nephew of the late chief.
“Right now, Fadan Karshi is deserted. Shops and service centres are shut. People are either staying indoors or are leaving town. No one knows what is coming next.
“Police are patrolling the streets, but I am not sure if they have any clue about the murderers. I want you to recall that this was the District Head that received former Governor Mukhtar Yero on September 22, 2014, when our women protested half naked because of the scale of killings by Fulani going on at that time.
“Today, the type of killings going on are those of isolated people. Cattle are also grazing freely on people’s farms in these areas of Sanga and people are afraid to do anything about it. Now they are targeting people and eliminating them.
“What people are saying about the killings of our district head is that he may have been killed by Fulani who have a grudge against him and this community.
“In May, 2014, some Fulani armed men invaded the police station here and seven people were killed. As they were escaping, two were killed in an exchange of gunfire between them and the Police.
“The Fulani Association later petitioned the then National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd) and copied the governor. They said that our late District head should be arrested, dethroned and prosecuted for the death of the two Fulani. We still have a copy of the petition. We suspect that his death may be connected to that incident.
“This is unfortunate, because in the past one week, we have had some respite, just for the violence to turn this way,” he said.
The Kaduna State Police spokesman, DSP Zubairu Abubakar, told Vanguard that he was aware of the incident, but that he was waiting for the DPO from Karshi to furnish him with details.
“I don’t have the details yet. When I do, I will surely give you,” he told Vanguard.
However, at press time, he was yet to come up with any information.
Disarm herdsmen now — Audu Ogbe
Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, has said that the most potent strategy to end incessant attacks by herdsmen on farmers and other rural dwellers was for the military, police and other security agencies to immediately disarm them.
This came as Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said the National Assembly would not support the creation of grazing reserves anywhere in the country, noting also that there was no grazing bill before either arm of the National Assembly.
Speaking exclusively to Vanguard in Abuja, weekend, the minister said no other strategy would end the attacks, if the herdsmen were allowed to go about armed, with impunity.
According to him, herdsmen go about with automatic weapons and the nation’s security agencies must go after them wherever they are and take away the arms.
Tackling the challenge
On how to tackle the challenge of the widespread attacks by herdsmen, the minister said: “It is very difficult now. One thing I am going to suggest, which we are putting into writing to Mr. President, is that we must disarm all herdsmen.
“The army and the police should find them wherever they are now and take all the guns from them, as the first step. They carry these AK-47s on their shoulders, they tie them around the bellies of the cows. They must be disarmed immediately.”
He noted that the problem between herdsmen and farmers was more complex than it appeared, adding that only a well-designed government policy could bring it to an end as it had spread from as far as Zamfara, Katsina and Kaduna in the far North to the North Central states of Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue and now to the Southern states of Enugu, Edo, Oyo, Ogun and others.
Blames community leaders
Ogbe said community leaders often add to the complexities of the herdsmen/farmers clashes as some of them collect money and cows from Fulanis and enter into land acquisition agreements with them, which often turn awry and end in violence.
His words: “Communities sometimes play a role in this. Sometimes community leaders see herdsmen arrive and the local chiefs collect money, collect cows and tell them to go on grazing and when they wander onto people’s farms and troubles start, such community leaders go into hiding or go silent and the Fulanis bring out a receipt of the agreement they have with these chiefs, claiming that they bought the land for grazing.
“It is all very complicated but the President has given instructions that the army and police should find them and neutralise them, which is the first step.”
FG to check influx of foreign herdsmen
Ogbe, who is considered a key member of President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet, argued that the escalating attacks on villagers by Fulanis was a recent development and that Nigerian Fulanis were not known to usually attack host communities. Consequently, he said the Federal Government would take practical steps to check the influx of foreign herdsmen into the country.
His words: “The Fulanis we knew never attacked any farmer, it is a rather recent phenomenon and they have done killings in Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Plateau Enugu, Ondo, Ogun and Benue.
“After disarming the herdsmen, the next step is to shut our borders from entry of cattle from foreign countries into ours.”
5,000 hectares already acquired for ranching
Responding to calls for grazing reserves, grazing routes or ranching as a way out of the current violence, the minister said the only viable option open to the nation’s cattle business was ranching.
“The question is the (grazing) route is a passage leading to where? To grassland or to someone’s farm? Grazing routes are not the issues; ranching, yes, on the scale we are talking about now, spread across many states.
“We have already acquired 5,000 hectares of land from nine states. We wrote and the governors gave us land but we have to farm them out to private sector investors who will prepare the land and make sure they can harvest grass six to seven times a year, dry or rainy season, and the cows have fresh grass to eat.”
He argued that the nation’s cattle were about the worst cared for and could not, therefore, give optimum yield in terms of milk and beef because of movement from place to place in search of food and water.
The Buhari administration’s plan, he revealed, was to see that the cattle and herdsmen were saved from having to go about looking for food and water by keeping them in ranches, provide water boreholes and earth dams to ensure the cattle produced more milk and more beef for the nation.
Rice up-scaling programme
He also outlined the rice up-scaling programme and other agricultural produce, with a view to achieving self-sufficiency, save foreign exchange and even export to other countries of the world.
The minister said Nigeria currently fed many African countries and had no other option but to significantly increase food production.
He said: “We consume seven million tonnes of rice annually. A million tonnes will fill up 33, 334 trailers. You need to put this into figures for people to know what a million tonne amounts to. 33, 334 trailers of 30 tonnes each multiplied by seven.
‘’One million tonnes loaded in trailers will stretch 495 kilometres which is Lagos-Benin but that isn’t all.
“We are also feeding Sudan, sometimes Libya, Chad, Mauritania, Mali and Burkina Faso. They come to buy from Nigeria and recently we had a request of 37,000 tonnes of maize from Central African Republic because there was a drought there.’’
No grazing reserve bill anywhere — Ekweremadu
Meanwhile, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, has said the National Assembly will not support the creation of grazing reserves anywhere in the country. Addressing journalists on Sunday after a meeting of the South East governors and stakeholders in Enugu, Ekweremadu said there was no bill on the creation of grazing reserves before the National Assembly.
He said the purported bill for the creation of grazing reserves was a “hoax,” urging the press to stop such rumours.
He said: “There is no such proposal or bill on the creation of grazing reserves, either in the Senate or House of Representatives. Nobody is considering it; not even at the executive level. I do not think they are considering it but we will not support it, even if it has been considered.”
Ekweremadu said the meeting was convened in reaction to the attacks on the people of Uzo-Uwani by suspected herdsmen. He said the meeting reviewed all that happened since then and thanked all stakeholders who had shown sympathy to victims of the attack.