Nigeria’s unfinished Igbo business

By Ochereome Nnanna

MANY Nigerians became familiar with the term “wind assistance” when we were still big in athletics. What it simply means is that an athlete who runs in the direction of a strong wind is likely to be helped to improve his time over a distance. We are talking about terrorism, not sports, but you will soon see why “wind assistance” comes into the picture.

In Nigeria today, there are three kinds of terrorism at play. We have the Boko Haram and ISWAP groups in the North East. Then we have the North West bandits and the armed herdsmen who are active in the Middle Belt and the three geopolitical zones of the South. While Boko Haram/ISWAP are mainly Muslims of Kanuri stock with their international sponsors and confederates, the North West bandits and herdsmen are exclusively Muslim Fulani from Nigeria and other parts of Sahelian Africa.

As the Boko Haram and ISWAP seem to be receding, the North West bandits who were only recently and reluctantly named as “terrorists” after prolonged calls for that by well-meaning Nigerians, is still gathering traction. Within the space of seven months, the bandit-terrorists have carried out seven major attacks on our military and federal establishments. On August 3, 2021, they shot down a Nigerian Air Force Alpha Jet at a location between Zamfara and Katsina States. Three weeks later, they invaded the Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA, in Kaduna, killing two officers and abducting one. On February 12, 2022 they struck again at the NDA, but this time were bloodied as they lost 20 fighters.

Also, on October 21, 2021, a train travelling to Kaduna from Abuja was derailed and attacked. The reenactment of that “feat” on Monday, March 28, 2022 with several people abducted shows that these terrorists have turned their attention to our railways, having taken control of Abuja-Kaduna highway. Also, just over the past weekend, a group of motorcycle-mounted bandit-terrorists invaded the Kaduna Airport, killing a guard. It was a repeat of a March 6, 2022 attack at the Kaduna Airport Staff Quarters in which a number of people, including family members, a nursing mother and her baby, were abducted.

Apart from the targeting of Federal Government and military set-ups, the unrelenting massacres and abductions of defenceless Southern Kaduna indigenes go on. The Federal Government and the Kaduna State Government no longer treat massacres of Kaduna, Plateau and Benue indigenes by bandit-terrorists and herdsmen terrorists as news.

Governor Simon Lalong seems unperturbed by the massacres, displacement of his people into refugee camps and occupation of “conquered” communities by the herdsmen terrorists. On the other hand, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State who had to leave the APC in order to continue his campaign for an end to the herdsmen terrorists’ attacks in his state, is regarded as an enemy.

In spite of their killings and abductions, especially of school children and travellers in Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi and Niger states, the “Bandits” were only designated as terrorists by an Abuja High Court on November 26, 2021. The herdsmen terrorists (the Nigerian Janjaweed) remain super-privileged till date. The Buhari government and the military, security and police establishments continue to describe their attacks on farming communities and unabashed defiance of the open grazing laws of their host states as “farmers-herders clashes”.

Sadly, many misguided media houses parrot this “farmers-herders clashes” which, for me, is a crime against humanity. How can you call terrorist attacks on defenceless and law abiding citizens, destroying their farms, burning down their communities, slaughtering their people and occupying their lands as “clashes” unless you are evil or a paid agent?

Several other factors also point to the charge of government “facilitation” of the activities of the armed herdsmen in the true essence of the Sudan Janjaweed bolstered by disgraced dictator, Omar Al Bashir. If you report them to the police, they are quickly released through “orders from above”.

The army, police and security agencies will be deployed against you. The South East has lost hundreds of thousands of innocent youths accused of links to the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB’s Eastern Security Network, ESN, by military and security personnel. The IPOB established the ESN to confront herdsmen terrorists seeking to take over their land when it was obvious that government was unwilling to protect the people from them.

It is disurbing that the land-grabbing objectives of the government and those of the herdsmen terrorists seem to be the same. While the terrorists are allowed to kill, destroy, rape, kidnap and annex without deterrence by the law enforcement agencies, the Federal Government has been trying to use its might to force through policies such as Ruga, Water Resources, Agricultural Transformation Plan, Grazing Routes and Cattle Colonies to seize indigenous people’s ancestral patrimonies for allocation to Fulani nomads. Buhari’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, even told Nigerians to choose between their lands or their lives!

Critics accuse the Federal Government of Islamising and Fulanising most of our police, security, military and paramilitary federal top posts to condone the herdsmen terrorists in their quixotic bid to reenact their Fulani Jihads that brought Arewa under their feet over 200 years ago. That they will never be declared as terrorists under this regime.

 May those who helped in bringing the leadership that has led to the demise and abductions of millions of Nigerians never smell the corridors of Aso Villa, even as visitors.

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