APART from Boko Haram and the North West “Bandits”, armed herdsmen embedded in farmlands and forests all over the North Central and Southern parts of Nigeria constitute the biggest threats to our collective safety.
Herdsmen, in times past, were harmless nomads who went about tending to their livestock. But since Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, and its sibling, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, MAKH, came into the picture about three decades ago or so, herdsmen have increasingly become violent towards their hosts.
Joined by Fulani elements from other countries who were exposed to armed conflicts, they took up arms against their benevolent hosts. The rogue elements among them resorted to kidnapping for ransom, raping and terrorising local communities.
They started claiming “ownership” of the lands of indigenous peoples and forming themselves into terror groups to kill, burn down villages, abduct people, rendering them refugees and taking over their villages. From Southern Kaduna, they pushed into Plateau, Taraba and Benue states. Within the past six years, they have stormed forests all over the South where they have set up terror camps.
The feeling in some quarters is that the Federal Government, which is supposed to maintain law and order and protect the lives and property of the people, has done little or nothing to call them to order. Besieged local communities are not allowed by law enforcement agencies to protect themselves. They are harassed by policemen and soldiers for doing so.
Some states have decided to enact laws banning open grazing to keep these agents of terror away from their forests and farms. These include states in the Middle Belt and the 17 states of Southern Nigeria.
Miyetti Allah has repeatedly vowed not to abide by the laws of their host states. They spuriously and scandalously claim that Nigeria belongs to their ethnic group. Their militants pursue this claim with the force of arms without any response from our security agencies.
The Federal Government refuses to even acknowledge the threat that their activities pose to the country. When they kill and destroy, the Police, Army, Security Agencies and the Presidency call it farmers-herders “clashes” to divert attention from their murderous aggression while criminalising the hapless victims.
The herdsmen terrorism must be checked. It is unacceptable for government to allow any section of the population to endanger the rest in a bid to grab their ancestral patrimonies. Security agencies should bring the herdsmen terrorists to book and allow displaced farmers to return to their own farms. The pastoralists, as business people, should ranch their animals.
Nigerians should put pressure on the Federal Government to do the right thing and save Nigerians from further bloodshed.