By Dapo Akinrefon & Tordue Salem
The House of Representatives as well as Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, yesterday asked the Federal Government to stop the entry of herdsmen from other African countries into Nigeria.
Consequently, the House mandated its Committees on Police Affairs, Army and Interior to interface with the Inspector General of Police, the Chief of Army Staff and the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration Service on the best ways of policing and securing the country’s borders.
The House’ decision followed the adoption of a motion on “Need to stop the Entry of Herdsmen from other African Countries into Nigeria,’’ moved by the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu.
Moving the motion, Elumelu said the House noted that in recent years, herdsmen had been on rampage, destroying farm lands, burning villages and killing innocent Nigerians indiscriminately in many states across the federation.
He noted that security agents in the country had consistently stated that the herdsmen were not Nigerians but migrants from other African countries.
Elumelu said: ‘’The House is concerned that those herdsmen who are militant in nature have consistently instilled fear in lives of local farmers and villagers living in the affected areas by the use of coercion, intimidation, brute force and extreme violence, in most cases, leaving a large number of persons dead.
“It is concerned that the violent conflicts between the nomadic herders from neighbouring countries and local farmers are escalating by the day to more states of the federation, and if left unchecked, will further threaten the security and stability of the nation.
‘’The clashes are becoming potentially as dangerous as the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, yet to date, response to the crisis at both the federal and state levels has been very poor and ineffective.
“The House believes that it has become necessary to lend a voice to Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State that a stop be put to the movement of herdsmen from other African countries to Nigeria, so as to curb the rate of crime and conflicts associated with their movements across Nigeria.”
On its part, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, in a statement by Yinka Odumakin (South West), Chief Guy Ikokwu (South East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South South) and Dr Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt), urged President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the migration of herdsmen from other African countries into Nigeria.
The leaders stated that the peace of Nigeria was currently under threat because of the activities of the herdsmen.
Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano had called on President Buhari to end the protocol on free movement that allows herdsmen from other countries to freely move into Nigeria.
Noting that they identified with Ganduje’s demand, the leaders said: “The position of the governor better appreciates the lawlessness of the armed herdsmen that has led to the loss of hundreds of lives around the country in recent years with the Federal Government turning a blind eye to these atrocities or making statements that tacitly encourage them.
“We still have not come to terms with the declaration by the President last year that Africans are free to come to Nigeria and obtain visas on arrival when he once identified Ghadafi militia men as a bulk of the troublers of Nigeria under the guise of herding.”
“It is also worrying that while the police have been troubling those who own licensed guns to come and return them, herdsmen who carry illegal sophisticated weapons like AK 47 roam free all over Nigeria.
“It took nine months for the police to arrest some of the herdsmen who killed the daughter of Afenifere Leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti.
“We do not also accept the statement of the Bauchi Governor and Miyetti Allah that Fulanis are free to move anywhere in Nigeria because each territory has indigenous owners.
“We encourage northern governors to move away from the mindset of Governor Bala Mohammed and support the reasonable call of Ganduje.
“The peace of Nigeria is currently under threat because of the activities of the herdsmen under whose roaming crimes of kidnapping, destruction of communities and killings of innocent people are taking place.
“We call on the President to rise to the duty of his office to protect all Nigerians and hearken to the call of Governor Ganduje to halt these movements and prosecute those who are committing crimes against humanity under the guise of herding.”