By Erasmus Ikhide
FEW hours after the massacre of over 50 innocent persons; injuring twelfth of a hundred more and setting alight innumerable homes in Logo Local Government Area of Benue State by the Fulani herdsmen militia on the 3rd of January came to light than President Muhammadu Buhari took to his twitter handle pretentiously thus: “One of our pledges to Nigerians is that we will ensure the safety and security of lives everywhere in the country. We will keep this promise. Let me assure that security agencies are working to arrest those behind the regrettable attack in Benue State, and prevent further attacks”.
“As I promised in my New Year’s Day Address, we’re stepping up our interventions not only to combat crime and violence nationwide but also to ensure that culprits are swiftly and severely punished. My condolences to the Govt and people of Benue, and the families of the victims”.
Nigerians were not surprised that the President deliberately shied away from mentioning Fulani herdsmen militia in his twitters as the group responsible for the bloodbath. Since his assumption of office in 2015, the nation has been enveloped in the festival of blood, tears and sorrow in a manner never seen before in the history of Nigeria. The climatic upsurge of the murderous Fulani herdsmen’s banditry that sunk the nation into the Stone Age abyss — courtesy of Buhari’s docility — prompted the security concerns to either to look away on the Fulani herdsmen’s heinous crimes against humanity or settled for the worst — alleged executions of the killings by the military themselves.
The Nigeria military has yet to deny the allegation that it reportedly shot dead eight people during the protest organised by the National Union of Benue State Students (NUBESS) against the criminal Fulani herdsmen militia who have upped their violent killing of farmers since Mr. Buhari became president. Whether the Nigeria Army deny killing of protesting youths in Benue State or not, Nigerians are familiar with their unconstitutional and criminal meddling into the duty of the Nigerian Police that is constitutionally mandated to quell internal unrest.
In the same Benue State in 2016, while violence was visited on the people of Agatu, the Nigeria military was alleged to have either remain aloof or supervised the butchering of the inhabitants of Tomater village in Sengev Council Ward, Akor village in Nzorov Council Ward and Bakin Kwata village in Umanger Council Ward of Guma LGA.
Sometime in June, 2017 a similar incident played out at a protest in Ewu, in Esan Central Local Government of Edo State. While the youths were protesting the raping and butchering of their mothers and sisters, Nigeria soldiers came to the scene, shot and allegedly killed some protesting youths at point blank. Several of them were injured while the soldiers were harping on order from Abuja. It took the intervention of Mr. Godwin Obaseki, the Governor of Edo State to arrest the dreadful outcome by treating the injured and compensated the families of the victims of military brutality.
On March 25, 2016 more the 5,500 people were killed. The Sole Administrator of Agatu Local Government Area, Mr. Mike Inalegwu said at the time that over 5,500 lives were reportedly lost in the bloody crisis between Agatu farmers and Fulani herdsmen since the outbreak of the crisis in 2013. Inalegwu who spoke in Obagaji at a peace meeting brokered by Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State and his Nasarawa State counterpart, Tanko Al Makura, explained that of the number 3,920 died during the crisis while the rest died at the various Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps established in parts of the state.
Inalegwu explained that he had earlier signed a peace agreement on behalf of the people of the area with leaders of Fulani herdsmen from Nasarawa state to create room for the herdsmen to graze in the community without rancor. He said despite the number of casualties, the people of Agatu were willing and prepared to cohabit with the Fulanis in an atmosphere of peace and mutual trust. He explained that the agreement entailed that “unarmed herdsmen from Nasarawa State would be allowed entry into Adapati Island in Agatu to graze their cow and not for the purposes of residence.
“It also provides that no herdsman is allowed to graze beyond the Island while they would be held accountable for destruction done to any farmland or produce within or in any nearby Island other than Adapati. “Moreover herdsmen would not be allowed to cross to Agatu hinterland until normalcy is restored and by extension, neither Agatu nor the herdsmen will be allowed to carry arms and dangerous weapons to the area.”
Were Nigerians in shock that despite the fact that marauding Fulani herdsmen have been responsible for thousands of death, destruction of properties, overran farmlands and Buhari government still insisted that the world was wrong for designating the militia as the third/fourth deadliest terrorist organization? Not at all. Strictly speaking, it’s in Mr. Buhari’s usual mental denial and disavowed stand not to designate Fulani herdsmen militia as a terrorist organization.
The reason is that at the Beginning of his Presidency, Fulani militia herdsmen, which styled itself Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria bestowed on him the title of ‘Grand Patron’. As a result, they have been throwing spit into the air and collecting with their faces. Pathetically, President Buhari has given tacit endorsement to the atrocious acts of murdering farmers across the country for daring to plough the earth for survival.
Buhari himself being a stagnant nomadic cattle rearer; with ill-looking 120 cows, year-in-year-out before he became President, has his cows suddenly looking robust as soon as he became president. Some even alleged — paradoxically that his cows now fed better than most Nigerians — as the eighteen thousand naira (N18,000) minimum wage cannot purchase 50 kilograms bag of rice.
The solutions to the murderous nomadic Fulani herdsmen militia is not beyond President Buhari; even though it precedes his presidency. Except that the blood they spill incessantly services other purposes in his government, unknown to the rest of us. The pro/anti-grazing bill has passed first/second reading in the National Assembly. A forward-looking president should have stoutly instigated the swift passage of the legislation and criminalised open grazing that put the lives and property of fellow Nigerians in jeopardy. A leader who worth the name should have reigned in the nation’s sectionalised security apparatus that gangly supervised the killings of Nigerians who are not from their own section of their country. A 21st century president should have know that open grazing is antithetical to civilization and modern days societal development. That person who is called by the name president should have no date with lamentation each time carnage of this magnitude enveloped his country.
Former Minority Whip of Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Samson Osage says Buhari government has no excuse for not bringing the farmers and herdsmen crisis to a halt in Benue State and elsewhere in Nigeria: “I recall leading a House of Representatives AdHoc committee to Benue sometime in 2012/2013 at the wake of renewed killings in Benue particularly in Gwer East, Gwer West and Guma Local Government Areas. What we saw then is a replica of what has just happened. Mind-boggling. With people killed wantonly and properties including farm produce destroyed.
“Benue is the food basket of the nation that explains why herdsmen are wont to rear their cattle there. But our Recommendations to the House of Representatives then I recall include but not limited to enthroning a policy of ranching of cattle to avoid regular intercourse between Farmers and herdsmen, collaboration between FG and State government to provide adequate Security in the state particularly along the Benue/ Nasarawa border which seems to be the routes for cattle rearing by herdsmen.
“Gov Ortom had done a lot in trying to implement the Ranching Law but I think the situation today is beyond the State and urgent and necessary short/long term security arrangements need to be instituted to arrest further carnage. This crisis has a long history and it is the time that it’s nipped by this Government because it has the will to do so”, Barrister Osagie said.
Nigerians, no doubt, have witnessed unbridled and coordinated raping and butchering of their loved ones by this psychopathic and sociopathic beasts since they elected President Muhammadu Buhari as their ‘Life Patron’. From North to South, East to West, the traces of bloodbath by Fulani militia herdsmen is beyond comprehensive. As we speak, blood is still flowing in the killing fields of Kaduna; Plateau, Yobe, Edo, Enugu, Ogun States and many more.
It’s safe to say that Nigeria may seize to exist as we know it — between now and thirteen months time when President Muhammadu Buhari would have been filling out for re-election — if the wanton killings by the Fulani herdsmen militia retail its currency across the country. Nigerians reserve the rights to be governed by the best of minds, not obsolete scumbag of primitive orientation.
Ikhide Erasmus, Public Affairs Analyst writes from Lagos
Email address: [email protected]
I invite you to follow me on Twitter @ ikhide_erasmus1