It is unfortunate that the continued attacks and killings of innocent Nigerians by armed herdsmen all over the country are gradually becoming “normal” items of everyday news in Nigeria. The Federal Government does not seem sufficiently outraged by their murderous exploits.
The Federal Government and the military authorities have studiedly refrained from recognising the reign of herdsmen terror(rated as the fourth most deadly terrorist group in the world in November 2018 behind Boko Haram, the Islamic State and Al Shabbab) as a specific security threat let alone terrorist group. They merely refer to their havoc as “farmers-herders clashes”.
Emboldened by this kid’s glove handling, the armed herdsmen who have cells and camps in forests all over the country continue to kill with impunity and without fear of being brought to book by our law enforcement agencies.
Over the past weekend, they struck again in Delta and Katsina States, claiming over 40 lives. In Delta, they hit some communities in Uwheru, Ughelli LGA killing eight persons. The most worrisome aspect of this attack was that the terrorists were reported to have acted with the help of military personnel, an allegation which Governor Ifeanyi Okowas wants investigated.
And in Katsina State, the alleged killing of two Fulani visitors in Batsari LGA reportedly provoked a reprisal that led to the slaughtering of 33 locals by these terrorists whom the President referred to as “bandits”. Another peculiar element in this sad episode was that President Muhammadu Buhari advised the people not to retaliate against attacks by “bandits” as it would create endless cycles of retaliation. He advised that those captured should be handed over to the law enforcement agencies.
Ordinarily, this presidential exhortation is well placed. As a newspaper that is law-abiding and disavows any form of self-help, we entertain zero tolerance to jungle justice such as lynching, retaliations and reprisal attacks. We do so on the assumption that the law enforcement agencies are prepared, willing and able to pursue the lawbreakers, bring them to justice and discourage further law-breaking.
But a situation whereby the Federal Government and its vital organs appear to be soft, especially on these armed herdsmen by refusing to even acknowledge the danger to pose to our citizenry let alone crack down on them, puts the ordinary Nigerian helplessly at their mercy.
A situation whereby little evidence of their arrest, diligent prosecution and punishment can be adduced in spite of their brazen atrocities puts the question marks on the commitment of the Federal Government to protect Nigerians from them.
The tendency to glamourise the revenge culture of herders seems a deliberate attempt to reinforce the fear of them among the populace. This must stop. Armed herdsmen are world-acknowledged terrorist cartels and must be decisively dealt with.