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President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday faulted those who accused him of being silent on killings being carried out by suspected herdsmen in parts of the country.
He said there was injustice in such aspersions.
According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President spoke during an interactive session with stakeholders in Jos, Plateau State, over the recent attacks that left scores of people dead.
Buhari said people were blaming him for not talking to the herdsmen probably because he looked like them.
He appealed to Nigerians to avoid inflammatory utterances that could endanger peace or promote conflicts.
The President said, “Whatever is being given to the media, we have to be very responsible about it.
‘‘Take for instance the situation in Benue. The Benue subsistence farmer knows that the Nigerian cattle herder that he knows doesn’t carry anything more than a stick, occasionally sometimes something to cut grass to feed his cattle.
‘‘But the present herder, I am told, carries AK47 and people are even blaming me for not talking to them because maybe (they say) I look like one of them.
‘‘There is some injustice in these aspersions.”
Buhari directed security chiefs in the country to remain vigilant and ensure the protection of lives and property.
He also urged traditional and community leaders to complement government efforts by persuading their constituencies to tolerate one another for peace and unity in the country.
The President added, “I will continue to pressurise members of the law enforcement agencies directly under me by the constitution as the Commander-in-Chief.
“About eight days ago, we had five hours security meeting of the service chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police.
‘‘What happened here in Jos is very bad. The question of leadership, from your household to whatever you are, is justice. The bottom line is justice.
‘‘That is why wherever I go, I will always appeal to the leadership of the communities and the law enforcement agencies, to always have control over their constituencies.”
Buhari, who was accompanied to the meeting by Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State and his counterparts from Kebbi and Niger, condoled with the affected families, the government and people of the state, and wished those injured a speedy recovery.
Others in his entourage were the ministers of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali; Interior, Abdulrahman Danbazzau; and Information and Culture, Lai Muhammed.
Also with Buhari was the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadiq Abubakar and the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris.
The major stakeholders in attendance were senior government officials, National and State House of Assembly members, traditional rulers, the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Ja’amatu Nasril Islam in Plateau State.
The President’s visit came less than 24 hours after a similar visit by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) who met with the stakeholders.
Earlier in his remarks, Lalong blamed parties in the conflict in the state for reneging on their agreement to maintain peace, leading to the recent upsurge in violence, after nearly three years of calm and normalcy in the state.
“We are concerned as a state that the sophisticated weapons used in these attacks, from the evidence on the ground and the narrations of victims, are not those conventional to our environment for self-defence but reflective of a terrorist invasion.
‘‘It, therefore, demands a justified response like that which was undertaken to address the Boko Haram insurgency,” he said.
The governor also requested that given the number of villages completely ravaged in the violence, the Federal Government should establish an Emergency Special Intervention Fund to help reconstruct the destroyed communities.