Thursday, April 28, 2016

“Herdsmen” and the Gathering Storm 
APRIL 28, 2016
Nigerian Vanguard

We are deeply perturbed by the escalating  conflicts between heavily-armed cattle herdsmen and  indigenous communities, especially in the four geopolitical zones of North Central, South East, South West and South-South. We have raised the alarm several times on this issue.

Our voice has resonated with those of countless other Nigerians in the swelling chorus of calls on the Federal Government to frontally and immediately mobilise the Nigerian armed forces to arrest the menace of these gunmen. From the plains of Plateau, Nasarawa and southern parts of Kaduna States, these armed desperados have increased in numbers, pouring southward into Oyo, Ekiti, Ondo, Osun, Ogun, Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Enugu, Abia, Anambra, Delta, Edo and parts of Rivers States.

They brazenly herd their livestock into people’s farmlands and threaten them with their deadly weapons at the slightest sign of protest. Some of them even go beyond that and engage in criminal ventures such as kidnapping, armed robbery, murders and rape.

They sometimes block the highways and inflict life-threatening injuries on their victims. The worst part of it all is that, as in the case of Agatu in Benue State, they drive indigenous people from their communities and occupy same in a fashion reminiscent of medieval conquests.

Even more worrisome still is the fact that these gunmen openly brandish their sophisticated weapons and very little is done by the law-enforcement agencies to enforce the law prohibiting the illegal possession of unlicensed firearms which the rest of the society is strictly bound to observe. We admit that this menace has been there for over a decade, but what was seen as isolated cases of infractions has ballooned in scale and thrust in the past one year, with the law enforcement agencies showing a singular lack of interest to confront it.

Fulani herdsmen have cohabited peacefully with their host communities and land-owners in all parts of the country for ages. Why the sudden upsurge of invasions and violent criminalities among these gangs of “herdsmen”?

We, once again, call on the Federal Government to order a crackdown on this menace in the same manner that Boko Haram, the Shiites, Biafra agitators, pipeline vandals and others have been militarily confronted.

We hope this is done quickly to avoid matters getting to a breaking point where communities might be forced to raise their own respective militias for the defence of their homelands.

The security agencies must wake up, do their jobs and head off possible outbreak of anarchy in Nigeria. A stitch in time saves nine.

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