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Playing poker with the lives of over 180 million people

By Dotun Ibiwoye

The killer herdsmen have been having a fielded day since last year. This year, they are certainly on ecstasy- in a wild frolic.

File: Herdsmen attending to their cows

Killing without any control. Just as if operating in a State without a government.

The scenario in Nigeria is now like a war zone. Boko Haarm and the marauding herdsmen are now like sportsmen competing and collaborating on who kills more Nigerians day by day.

Today, Tuesday, May Day 2018, Over 68 people were killed by two male suicide bombers who detonated twin bomb in Mubi town, the commercial nerve centre of Adamawa state.

The first blast was at the second-hand clothes market, Gwonjo, during afternoon prayer, while the second was outside the mosque.

This is not the first attack on a mosque in Mubi.

There was a suicide attack last November on a mosque at Kunu Araha, a northern suburb of Mubi, which also killed dozens of worshippers.

No group has claimed responsibility for today’s attack but many believe Boko Haram to be behind it.

The terrorists briefly overran Mubi in late 2014 as they rampaged across North-east Nigeria, seizing towns and villages in a quest to establish an Islamic state.

Boko Haram had changed the town’s name to Madinatul Islam, or “City of Islam” during their occupation.

However, the town has been peaceful since the Nigerian military and civilian militias recovered it.

The state Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Ahmad Sajoh, in a statement today said: “While condemning the satanic, cowardly and dastardly act, His

Excellency Sen. Mohammed Umar Jibrilla Bindow, the executive Governor of Adamawa State, had ordered the immediate provision of medical supplies and mobilization of medical officers to the general hospital in Mubi.

“In addition, the Adamawa State Emergency Management Agency (ADSEMA) had been ordered to supply food and non-food items to the hospital to cater for victims and victims relations.”

Sajoh urged people to donate blood to help injured victims. He asked residents to be more vigilant and reiterated the government’s commitment to the protection of lives and properties of all citizens.

The police in Adamawa had earlier told reporters that 24 worshippers were killed‎ in the explosion which occurred while worshippers were holding the Zuhr (afternoon) prayer at about 1:00 p.m.

A resident, of the town, Isa Danladi, said he was about to leave his house near the mosque when he heard the blast

“Many people died on the spot and several others were taken to hospital with severe injuries,” he said.

“The mosque’s roof was blown off. The prayer was mid-way when the bomber detonated the explosives. This is obviously the work of Boko Haram,” he said.

Haruna HammanFuro, head of Adamawa State Emergency Management Agency, described the blast as “devastating”, saying there were “high casualties”.

According to a report published by SMB Intelligence, over 2,000 people have been killed in conflicts between the herdsmen and different host communities in 2015 alone.

In comparison, the Boko Haram insurgency that has attracted the attention of the Nigerian government and the global community kills 2,500 people annually, the report states.

In 2000 herdsmen and farmers had a major clash in Oke-Ogun area of Oyo state, which led to a visit by a delegation from the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) to the office of the then governor, the late Lam Adesina.

Before the report, the largest attack was when the group killed over 200 people: community leaders and residents who were meeting in a remote village in Zamfara state, Nigeria.

But their recent activities have tripled.

The number of internally displaced persons is also on the rise in these communities as people desert their homes for neighbouring towns.

United States’ concern about the killing

On the 30th of April 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari was wining and dining and also having a joint press conference with President Donald Trump and giving reasons why foreign investors need to be in Nigeria.

Trump also was prompt to reply that the United States is deeply concerned about the senseless killings of defenseless Nigerians.

In President Trump’s words: “We’re deeply concerned by religious violence in Nigeria, including the burning of churches, and the killing and persecution of Christians.

It’s a horrible story. We encourage Nigeria and the federal, state, and local leaders to do everything in their power to immediately secure the affected communities and to protect innocent civilians of all faiths, including Muslims and including Christians.

“Nigeria is also leading African nations in the fight against Boko Haram, and — another ruthless jihadist terrorist group. You’ve been reading about them. They kidnapped the young girls and young women, many of whom never are seen again. It’s tough stuff. This summer, it was my honor to meet with two brave young women, Joy Bishara and Lydia Pogu, who were kidnapped by Boko Haram in April of 2014 at the secondary school in Nigeria. I was deeply moved by their inspiring stories of courage, resilience, and survival. They really were two amazing young women.

“I told Joy and Lydia, my administration is committed to combatting both jihadist terrorism and the scourge of human trafficking and smuggling. In the world today, there is more human trafficking than there has ever been — if you can believe this. They use the Internet better than almost anybody is able to use the Internet. So think of it, in a modern world, in this world, there’s more human trafficking and slavery than at any time in the history of this world. It’s hard to believe.

“To protect Americans from these menaces, I have called on Congress to close deadly immigration loopholes that are exploited by terrorists, traffickers, and criminals.

Just look at our southern border and our weak and obsolete immigration laws. They are obsolete and they are weak, and they are pathetic. And there’s no country in the world that has laws like we do. They’ve got to change, and they’ve got to change now for the safety of our country.’’ Trump said

Proposed stoppage of herdsmen’s movement
The National Economic Council (NEC) presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on April 26, 2018, it was agreed to stop movement of herdsmen starting with Benue, Taraba, Adamawa, Kaduna and Plateau.

Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi who disclosed this to State House Correspondents at the end of the meeting held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said NEC backed the immediate creation of ranches across the country.

The NEC comprises state governors and relevant ministries of government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Umahi said the five worst affected states which have witnessed killings from the herders/farmers clashes were expected to make land available for ranches.

Already, Niger and Kaduna have given lands while Plateau is about to do so.

He added that with ranching, the nomadic herders and their families would be able to access good medical facilities and good schools for their children. Ranching, he added, would also improve the well-being of the cattle.

Umahi also disclosed that the Federal Government and the affected states would still iron out the interventions expected from the two parties.

He said foreign herdsmen would be expected to show some travel documents, eventhough visa is not needed for movement of West Africans.

Early this year, NEC, disturbed by the constant conflicts between herdsmen and farmers raised a committee of nine governors with the vice president as chairman.

According to the Ebonyi governor, “we were constituted to visit the five core states. Later, other states like Plateau and Kaduna states were also added. But we were able to visit only five states- Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba,Jigawa and Zamfara states.

“The core causes of the conflicts, we were made to understand, were perception, and of course, competition for scares resources and banditry or what you can call pure criminal activities through cattle rustling, kidnapping etc.

“Today, we look at three categories of herdsmen in Nigeria. We look at the foreign herdsmen that come in due to the treaty and we continue to say that the treaty is not being properly implemented. For any herdsman to come into Nigeria from outside, there should be a kind of certification, there must be a letter, even though you are not coming in with a visa, you have to travel with ECOWAS documentation.

“ Animals that are coming into the country are required to be quarantined, but this is not being done. So, this is one category of them. Secondly, we have the nomadic herdsmen, who during the dry season, travel from up north to the middle belt down to the south. This creates conflicts.

“Also, foreign herdsmen coming all through the way from neighbouring countries and traveling through the farmlands also cause conflicts. Then, of course, we have the migrant herdsmen who migrate for a very long time and settle with the villagers and even inter-marry with them.These are the three categories we have in Nigeria.

“In all, we agree that movement is not either profitable to the herdsmen because they value the milk from the cow even more than the cow itself. So, the movement is not healthy for the cows as it dries up the meat and give less than two litres of milk per cow per day. So, we condemn the issues of foreign invasion by foreign herdsmen and I am happy that the FG is doing something about it.”

Unanswered questions in curtailing the herdsmen
Why is it difficult for the federal government to contain the terror of the herdsmen militia? Who are those arming the cattle rearers to unleash mayhem on innocent and defenseless Nigerians?

Human rights activist Chief Femi Falana (SAN) on April 25, 2016, filed at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague and the ECOWAS court a case of genocide and ethnic cleansing against Fulani herdsmen for their continued massacres of the innocent people and farmers in Jukunland, in Southern and Central Taraba state, in north eastern of Nigeria.

Abu Anthony, another human rights activist speaking to reporters, emphasized that the federal government must urgently summon the political will to forge a lasting solution to the problem of clashes between the Fulani herdsmen and the farmers to prevent the escalation into tribal wars and to avert further loss of lives and property.

He said the federal government must as a matter of priority re-position the intelligence agencies and the police to stop the attacks and the killing and wanton destruction of property by the Fulani militia, and retaliatory attacks by the victims.

“They need to be arrested, disarmed, prosecuted and jailed if guilty while their sponsors should be smoked out and brought to justice. “On its part, the Nigerian

Immigration Service must be alive to its responsibilities in identifying and expelling foreign nationals who constitute security risks to the country.

“The national Confab must deliberate on the Fulani herdsmen and their host farmers’ palaver with a view to recommending a just solution to this potential anarchy and destruction of the unity of Nigeria,” he said.

Calling on the federal government to take urgent and drastic action against the massacres being perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen against innocent farmers before they drag the nation into another preventable war in the country.

The Global Terrorism Index by the Institute for Economics and Peace, places Nigeria 3rd among 162 countries affected by terrorism. The institute attributed the position to several internal conflicts in the country, including the activities of the Fulani herdsmen. “The reason for this change is the Fulani militants who killed 1,229 people in 2014, up from 63 in 2013. They now pose a serious threat to stability,” a portion of the index report reads. Since late last year, only Boko Haram, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL), and al-Shabaab are deemed deadlier than the Fulani herdsmen in the world.

Countless massacre
The following is the timeline of killings in Nigeria:

1. February 2013:
Fulani Attacked Agatu burning several villages, including Inoli, Ologba, olegeje, olegogboche, olegede, Adana, Inminy and Abugbe communities. 186 lives lost to butchery and gunshots. GEJ sent MOPOL to control the situation but they failed. Another attack followed in Agatu in the month of May 2013.

2. April 23 2013:
10 farmers killed in an attack on Mbasenge community in Guma LGA by herdsmen. MOPOL deployed but could not control the situation.

3. May 7, 2013:
47 mourners gunned down in Agatu while burying two policemen killed the Tuesday before in Nassarawa State.

4. May 14, 2013:
Over 200 herdsmen surround Ekwo-Okpanchenyi, Agatu LGA killing 40 locals. Soldiers were deployed, leading to a brief calm before they left the community.

5. July 5, 2013:
20 people were killed in a “conflict” between Tiv farmers & herdsmen at Nzorov,Guma LGA, Benue state. MOPOL deployed

6. July 31 2013:
herdsmen invade 2 villages in Agatu LGA killing 8 villagers allegedly in retaliation for the killing of 112 cows as reprisals for earlier killings by herdsmen.

7. November 7, 2013
Attackers strike at Ikpele & Okpopolo communities killing 7 and displacing over 6000 inhabitants. MOPOL deployed again

8. Nov 9, 2013:
36 locals killed and 7 villages overrun in an attack by herdsmen on locals in Agatu LGA. MOPOL deployed again

9. Nov 20, 2013:
Attack on communities in Guma LGA, killing 22 locals and destroying properties worth millions of naira. Joint task force of Police and Army deployed, resulting in some calm

10. Jan 20 2014:
Gunmen attack Agatu LGA, killing 5 soldiers and 7 civilians. More soldiers deployed, resulting in some calm

11. Jan 20, 2014.
Attack on Adeke village. 3 dead. No deployment of forces

12. 20-21 Feb 2014.
Herdsmen attack Gwer West LGA. 35 persons killed. 80,000 displaced. 6 Council Wards Sacked. Joint task force of Police and Army deployed, resulting in brief calm

13. Feb 24, 2014.
Attack on a Tiv community along Naka road, Makurdi, killing 8 people. No deployment of forces

14. March 6, 2014.
30 killed in Kwande, Katsina/Ala and Logo LGAs by attackers dressed in military uniforms. 6 villages sacked. MOPOL deployed

15. March 12, 2014.
Raid on Ukpam village of Mbabaai in Guma LGA. 28 persons killed. Yam barns and farms burnt. MOPOL deployed

16. March 10, 2014.
Former Governor Suswam’s convoy attacked by herdsmen at Umenger. He and convoy manage an escape. MOPOL deployed

17. March 12, 2014.
Herdsmen attack Suswam’s village in Logo LGA. 22 slaughtered. Entire village sacked. Joint task force of Army and Police deployed

18. March 23, 2014.
25 killed and over 50 injured by herdsmen said to be bearing sophisticated weapons in Gbajimba, Guma LGA. MOPOL deployed

19. March 25, 2014.
Police recover 7 corpses following an attack on Agena village by Herdsmen.

20. March 29, 2014.
Herdsmen attack 4 villages in Agatu LGA. 19 people killed, 15 others abducted. MOPOL deployed

21. March 29, 2014.
Suspected use of chemical weapons on Shengev community in Gwer West LGA leaving 15 people dead. MOPOL deployed

22. March 30, 2014.
19 locals killed and 15 abducted in Agatu LGA. No deployment of forces

23. April 10, 2014.
Over 100 herdsmen attacked 4 villages in Ukemberaga/Tswarev ward of Logo LG, 6 killed,Properties lost. MOPOL deployed

24. April 15, 2014.
Attack on Obagaji, Headquarters of Agatu LGA, 12 youths killed. MOPOL deployed

25. September 10, 2014.
Herdsmen attacked five villages in Ogbadibo LGA leaving scores dead. MOPOL deployed

26. January 27, 2015.
17 persons killed in attacks on Abugbe, Okoklo, Ogwule & Ocholoyan in Agatu LGA by herdsmen. Joint task force of Army and Police deployed

27. January 30, 2015.
Over 100 attackers stormed 5 villages in Logo LGA, killing 9 persons in the attack. MOPOL deployed

28. March 15, 2015.
Egba village in Agatu LGA sacked by herdsmen,over 90 locals, including women and children killed. MOPOL deployed

29. April 27, 2015.
28 persons killed by herdsmen in attack on 3 villages at Mbadwem, Guma LGA; houses and farmlands razed. MOPOL deployed

30. May 11, 2015.
Ikyoawen community in Turan Kwande LGA invaded by herdsmen. 5 persons killed & 8 others wounded.

31. May 24, 2015.
100 killed in an attack by herdsmen in villages &refugee camps at Ukura, Gafa, Per and Tse-Gusa, Logo LGA.

32. July 7, 2015.
1 local killed and several others injured following an attack on mourners in Imande Bebeshi in Kwande LGA.

33. November 5, 2015.
12 persons killed, 25 others injured in Buruku LGA following an attack by suspected herdsmen.

34. Feb 8, 2016.
10 killed and over 300 displaced in clash between herdsmen and farmers at Tor-Anyiin and Tor-Ataan in Buruku LGA

35. Feb 21-24, 2016.
Over 500 locals killed and 7000 displaced in an attack on Agatu LGA by fulani herdsmen. Over 7 villages razed.

36. March 9, 2016.
8 residents killed by herdsmen in attacks on Ngorukgan, Tse Chia, Deghkia and Nhumbe in Logo LGA.

37. March 11, 2016.
Attack on Convoy of Senator David Mark by suspected herdsmen in Agatu LGA. No casualty recorded.

38. March 13, 2016.
6 people including an APC youth leader killed by herdsmen in an attack on Tarkaa LGA. MOPOL deployed

39. February 29, 2016
11 killed in Edugbeho Agatu LG including a police inspector. Joint task force of Army and Police deployed

40. March 10, 2016
Two killed in attack on Obagaji Agatu.

41. March 5, 2016
Houses burnt in Agatu. Security forces prevented killings.

42. January 24, 2017:
15 persons were killed by rampaging Fulani herdsmen, who attacked farmers in Ipiga village in Ohimini Local Government Area of Benue State.

43. March 2, 2017:
No fewer than 10 persons were killed in a renewed hostility between herdsmen and farmers in Mbahimin community, Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State.

44. March 11, 2017:
Seven people were killed when herdsmen attacked a Tiv community, Mkgovur village in Buruku local government area of Benue State.

45. May 8:
Three persons were confirmed killed by herdsmen in Tse-Akaa village, Ugondo Mbamar District of Logo Local Government Area of Benue State.

46. May 13, 2017:
Less than one week after many people were killed by herdsmen in three communities of Logo Local Government Area of Benue State, armed herders struck again on May 13 killing eight more people.

47. December 31, 2017 and January 2, 2018:
50 persons including seven members of the Benue State Livestock Guards have been killed in fresh attacks on Benue communities by suspected Fulani herdsmen after they invaded Gaambe-Tiev, Ayilamo and Turan all in Logo LGA as well as Umenger, Tse-Akor and Tomatar near Tse-Abi in Nongov District of Guma LGA.


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