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President Buhari and violent herdsmen – Dr. Ugoji Egbujo

The president says it’s not tribalism. His impotence against the herdsmen is baffling. He has figures to prove it. The herdsmen killed 756 people in 2 years during Jonathan’s era. That is astonishing. The herdsmen have been invading communities and killing since the ages. Buhari denies tribalism has shackled the arms of the law and tempered his customary allergy for social disorder. I believe him.

President Buhari arrives Paris Ahead of the One Planet Summit in France

But a president who inherited such a massive security threat, as his figures evidence, should have had an urgent containment strategy. What has the president done to contain the herdsmen? If history and casualty figures discharge the president of tribalism, they convict him of dereliction of duty.

The Niger Delta once broke down into lawlessness. The leaders of that zone didn’t abdicate the special moral responsibility to sort it out. When Jonathan became president, we expected restiveness and violence perpetrated by his kin to abate or be squelched. Buhari is president. We do not expect Fulanis of any hue to constitute any serious security concern for the ruling government.

And if any herdsmen proved too nomadic to read the mood of the nation then Buhari was expected to attend to them with a special indignation. The President ought to understand that under his watch, the persistence of bloodletting by herdsmen, would be given reasonable negative ethnic interpretations. The Benue State APC thinks its an invitation to civil war.

If you listen to the Governor Ortom you will hear pain and frustration. If the governor sounds that helpless, then truly anarchy isn’t afar off. The cycle of doom seems unstoppable. Cattle invade farms and cows are touched. Herdsmen are riled. They arrange midnight reprisals. They massacre and eliminate whole villages. Their idea of deterrence is a human head for a dead cow. The government watches, then pays condolence visits with platitudes and relief materials and sues for calm.

Then they would hold reconciliatory meetings. Representatives of the murderers would attend with frowns of indignation. Sometimes they are placated with cows, bought by government, in the interest of national unity. Then the surviving farmers return charred houses. Bits and pieces of charred human flesh, entrails of pregnant women and babies, and broken hopes are raked into bags. And buried. Sometimes in mass graves. And the Federal Government when prodded would talk about a long history of clashes between farmers and herdsmen, and right of way, and national unity. Until, another massacre happens.

The governor has identified the murderous group. It is a faction of Miyetti Allah. Everyone knows them. The Army and the DSS know them. But the inspector General of police would wait for a directive from the president before playing to the gallery of relocating to Benue state. That was the script after the Agatu massacre.

It will be used again. The murderous herdsmen have now decapitated policemen deployed to contain them, in broad daylight. But we haven’t been told they have crossed any redlines. Because the governor met the President and came out to reject a certain proposal for colonies for herdsmen. The Army says it’s on a standby.

It may be unfair to say that the herdsmen acquired impunity when their kinsman became President. So don’t pay too much attention to the likes of Fani Kayode. But it would be objective to say that President Buhari’s incompetence in handling the herdsmen has been, by his standards, alarming. Many would always forgive him for not having a coordinated approach to the economy at the outset. But Buhari was elected because he had a reputation for law and order.

The Benue governor signed into law a No Grazing Bill . Miyetti Allah expressed dissatisfaction with the law. A faction of Miyetti Allah vowed to ignore the law and promised mayhem. The massacre in Benue therefore meets the definition of a terrorist attack. The attack was aimed to score a political goal. The attack was a message to the governor and Benue House of Assembly . It was a challenge to the authority vested in these institutions by the people of Benue. It wasn’t an routine criminal act. It was an act of terror. Why then is the offending faction of Miyetti Allah being treated with kid gloves.

That faction of Miyetti Allah and cross country grazing constitute the single most important threat to the corporate existence of this country. Yes, the government has to tackle the root causes. But the situation has the potential to degenerate rapidly. Why has the government failed to put a foot on the group. The other day the police arrested some minnows.

They would put them on trial. The baying public has been thrown bones. But the police would find no eye witnesses. Massacres that happen at 2 am wont have living eye witnesses. Then they would rely on confessions obtained by crude methods,. But the cases would linger and linger. And the confessions will be refuted in court. The suspects that have just been served the public in the aftermath of the massacre will most probably slip back into the forests in a few months. Discharged and acquitted.

Why wont the security agencies harvest the masterminds of that faction of Miyetti Allah. They are not ghosts. They have always attended meetings. Why are the leaders of Miyetti Allah so bold? Why aren’t they worried that the violent tendencies offending faction would jeopardize all herdsmen and poison all the pastures with bad blood?

Why are they even opposed to a ban on cross country grazing?

Cross country grazing has become outdated. The boys should be sent back to school to learn modern animal husbandry. No one in 2018 should be walking dangerous forests with hundreds of cows. Cross country grazing is directly responsible for the proliferation of armed cattle rustlers. The nation’s forests are vast, its borderers are porous. The country cannot police the forests against cattle rustlers.

Cattle rustlers sometimes become omnivorous and become associate human kidnappers. In places where cattle rustling is rife, kidnapping is rampant. Why can’t the President appreciate that crime can be fought preventively, by eliminating opportunities for crime. Why waste scarce resources to set up a military brigade to fight cattle rustling when you can ban cross country grazing and confine the poor cows to better feeding in modern ranches. The owners of these cows are rich. They can fund ranches.

Militias are spouting across Benue. Communities are arming and taking to self defense. Government’s ineptitude is birthing new problems. The proliferation of firearms in these communities would worsen the incidence of violent crimes for generations.

What is the Federal Government thinking about?

 

 


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