Written by Ruth Soronnadi
Yesterday, we woke up to the news of the latest herdsmen killing in Benue state, this time involving several catholic parishioners and two priests, one of whom had previously raised a public outcry on the insecurity of the village.
The herdsmens’ killings are becoming a mantra, a necessary addendum to the news every other week.
An adage says that when you see the corpse of another not related to you being carried, it appears like firewood. These lives lost are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles, friends to living people who never dreamt that such ill fate will befall one close to them.
The right to life is the first and fundamental right of a citizen as entrenched in Section 33 of the Nigerian Constitution. The weight of this responsibility rests on the shoulders of the Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris who answers directly to the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Mohammed Buhari.
The generic response of Mr President in form of expression of grief, issuing of unclear orders and promises made without any follow up plan and result based actions is appalling. The authority indirectly given to these key players have remained moribund while the killings by the herdsmen are on the increase.
I ask daily, ‘Is Nigeria drifting towards anarchy?’ Is a minor group of people in comparison with the total Nigeria population now bigger than the Federal Government that they cannot be checked?
Most of these herdsmen are not the owners of these cattlle, merely working for a pittance. How do they have access to such weapons & wield such strong destructive power unchecked for long?
What is currently going on in our country can be likened to chasing rats when your house is on fire. If half the zeal employed by the government in chasing down its perceived enemies over concorted offences is employed in hunting down these murderers roaming freely in our states and bringing them to book, these menace of Fulani herdsmen killings will have been curbed long ago.
How many more will be victims of this ethnic cleansing before justice is served?
I totally support the Pan-Yoruba social political organization Afenifere that demanded that Buhari renounce his Patron status of the Miyetti Allah, the umbrella body of cattle dealers in Nigeria. There is obviously a clear conflict of interest in the President being the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and Grand Patron of an organization believed generally to be promoting the interest of the herdsmen.
While I don’t advocate jungle justice, extreme situations call for extreme measures. If the herdsmen prove to be above the law we can borrow a leaf from an action carried out Ghanian government through the police. It will be a proof that our government is out to protect the lives of her innocent citizens without fear or favor and serve as a deterrence to perpetuators of such or similar despicable acts.
Ghanian police boss in January ordered his men of over 200 personnel to shoot and kill on sight any herdsman who tries to kill them just as he and his men embarked on a full-scale enforcement of a court directive ordering all herdsmen to evacuate a community called Agogo in the State where they had been several mass killings. The herdsmen seeing that the government meant business pleaded with the government to give them two days to evacuate the remaining cattle.
While we look to this present government to provide solutions to these security issues, it is imperative for all of us to get our voters card, keep our eyes and ears open as we pray an prepare for the upcoming 2019 elections.
Ruth is a Lawyer, Chartered Mediator, Administrator & Development Knowledge Facilitator who is passionate about human rights& human capital development. She is a Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) 2018 Fellow- Policy Making and Management Track. She has interests in public speaking & writing, policy making and analysis.