…To go after mercineries
….will not impose solution on any state
By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor AND Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – THE Federal Government last night hinted that it would opt to take decisive military force to deal with the bandits and mercenaries who were behind the killings in some parts of the country especially regarding the crisis associated with herdsmen.
According to a reliable Presidency source who spoke on condition of anonymity, “The role of bandits and suspected mercenaries in what has become known as herdsmen/ farmer clashes and violence may have provoked the need for a fresh approach to dealing with the crisis, informed sources close to the Working Group formed recently by the National Economic Council have hinted.
“The settled view in official circles is that the reported killings and violence recorded are the work of bandits and mercenaries since in many cases the herdsmen are often well-known in the communities where their cattle normally graze.”
The source further stated that the new position was one of the outcomes of the Working Group formed less than two weeks ago by the National Economic Council with nine Governors, and chaired by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.
The group was set up in a bid to end the impunity that has marked the activities of the bandits resulting in several deaths and maiming especially in Benue State.
According to the Kano State Governor Dr. Ganguje who read out highlights and decisions of the NEC to reporters (alongside his Ebonyi counterpart ) after the Council meeting that Thursday the Working Group “will work in accordance with the President’s commitment to ensuring that all perpetrators of violence are brought to book.”
The highlights also noted that the Working Group which consists of Governors from Zamfara, Kaduna, Adamawa, Benue, Taraba, Edo, Plateau, Ebonyi & Oyo States actually commenced its work with a meeting presided over by the VP right immediately after NEC at the Presidential Villa.
The source disclosed that at the end of the Working Group meeting last week, it was clear a major turning point had been reached in the management of the crisis and sufficient consensus recorded on the need to stop the impunity by engaging the military in a more decisive manner.
Some political analyst had indicated that the crisis also required a political solution considering the religious and ethnic tones that could easily become further exacerbated and possibly worsen the situation if proper and timely care is not taken.
“This is the reason analysts argue, even with some critical opinions on the composition of the Working Group, that the idea of gathering together governors across the country including the states where the crisis have been intense to collaborate actively among themselves and with the FG to address the situation is useful.
“Indeed one of the firm outcomes of the Working Group’s meeting was the expressed readiness of the FG to locate and identify the bandits who perpetrate the killings and the violence, and using all necessary means including military involvement to flush them out of their hideouts in forests across the country as a definite move to secure the life and property of Nigerian citizens.
“The Working Group has also resolved to work with the FG to strengthen law enforcement and all security & intelligence agencies in the country so they can coordinate better in dealing with, checkmating, and preventing the crisis from further escalation.”
On how to permanently address the basis of the herdsmen and farmer clashes, the Working Group sources said that they have taken the view that every State should by a rigorous consultative process with all stakeholders design its own solutions.
The source said, “The Federal government will not impose any solution on any State. The Vice President assured all that the Federal government would certainly not imposed its ideas n the States and noted that fears being expressed on cattle colonies are misplaced.”
He also confirmed that the military were already engaged and would soon begin to implement decisive military steps to tackle the situation.
He said, “Also the Nigerian Police and other security & military agencies have been asked to recruit more rank and file to tighten security in the troubled spots and in the country generally.”