•Politicians taking advantage of crisis –Buhari •PDP, Saraki, CAN, others condemn the attack
Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye; Ndubuisi Orji; Okwe Obi; Bayo Oladeji, Abuja; Gyang Bere, Jos
Anger, tears and condemnations have continued to trail the weekend attack on Plateau State communities, in which death toll has reportedly risen to 150.
In spite of the deployment of Air Force, police fighter jets and special force, residents of the affected villages including Xlands, Gindin Akwati, Nghar, Kura falls and Kakuruk all in Gashish district of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, have continued to flee en masse to neighbouring communities and local councils in search of safety.
Meanwhile, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) said it carried out the attack in retaliation for the loss of about 300 cows to suspected rustlers.
A statement, yesterday, by Danladi Ciroma, chairman, North-central zone of the body accused the communities of hiding cattle rustlers among them as well as frustrating peace efforts of the state government.
“These attacks are retaliatory. As much as I don’t support the killing of a human being, the truth must be told that those who carried out the attacks must be on a revenge mission.
“There have been recent reports of cow rustling and destruction of farms between Berom farmers and Fulani herdsmen. The people carrying out these criminal activities are well known to the communities but the communities are hiding them.
“Fulani herdsmen have lost about 300 cows in the last few weeks – 94 cows were rustled by armed Berom youths in Fan village, another 36 cows were killed by Berom youths. In addition to that, 174 cattle were rustled and the criminals disappeared with them to Mangu.
“Since these cows were not found, no one should expect peace in the areas. Even soldiers that went after the criminals to recover the rustled cows were shot by the armed rustlers and eventually escaped with all the cows.
“The government of Governor Lalong has done a lot to restore peace, but the criminal elements hiding among their people are the ones frustrating these peace efforts,” he Ciroma said.
Notwithstanding MACBAN’s mea culpa plea, President Muhammadu Buhari has slammed politicians who he claimed were promoting instability and chaos to gain the advantage in the coming elections.
A statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Shehu Garba said: “We know that a number of geographical and economic factors are contributing to the longstanding herdsmen/farmers clashes. But we also know that politicians are taking advantage of the situation. This is incredibly unfortunate.”
Buhari was, however, silent on whether the culprits will be brought to book as he had done in the past. He also did not give an order to security agencies to move into the troubled spots.
However, Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, cautioned those politicising and dragging farmers/herdsmen killings in the state into a religious violence.
In a statewide broadcast, he urged citizens to exercise restraint, observe the curfew currently in place, while traditional rulers, religious leaders, elders, political leaders, community leaders and their subjects should remain vigilant and cooperate with security agencies to end the violence.
“It is with a deep sense of sorrow that I address you, following the pockets of violent attacks on some communities in the state. This has unfortunately led to the loss of lives and properties.
“The resurgence of violence in the state is reprehensible, as much as condemnable. Yet, this is a stark reminder of the magnitude of peace and security challenges steering at us in the face.
“Government is conscious of it responsibilities of protection of lives and properties of its citizenry and we have always strived to meet that expectation. You will recall that I took an oath to protect and secure the lives and property of our citizens as governor of Plateau State.”
Saraki, Ekweremadu, Makarfi, CAN, others react
Senate President Bukola Saraki has charged President Buhari to order security chiefs to immediately produce quick response measures aimed at tackling the incessant killings.
“I am very sad to hear the news of the incident in Plateau State. This is very depressing and giving the impression that the country is not safe. The problem of Boko Haram in the North-east is well known to everybody but this killing by an unknown band of assailants in Benue, Taraba, Plateau and Kaduna states is now giving another dimension to the crisis. Coming at the time we are getting ready for elections, we need to respond fast,” Saraki said.
Also reacting, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu warned that unless government restructured the nation’s security architecture, more lives would be lost.
In a statement by his Special Adviser, Media, Uche Anichukwu, Ekweremadu said: “It is really unfortunate because our country is a nation where the leaders have refused to learn from the mistakes and missteps of the past.
“For many years now, some of us have been consistent about the need to decentralise our security architecture; and so long as we are not doing that, we are going to get exactly the same result.
“It pains me that innocent people, who voted us into power to protect their lives and property are losing their lives and their property because we have refused to take the correct steps.
“The sad news is not only that many people have died, but also that more people will die unless we take the right steps, putting the right security architecture in place. There is no way you will have a federation like Nigeria as big as it is, with all the diversities and continue to operate a centralised policing and expect it to work. It will never work and it is a major problem.
“So, it is sad that this is happening. But, as I said, the real tragedy is that this Plateau incident is not going to be last because we refuse to be corrected.”
Ekweremadu reasoned that the government of Plateau State would be in the best position to protect its citizens if it had its own police outfit.
Also, Senator Ahmed Makarfi flayed the attack and the huge death toll, saying it was unfortunate, unnecessary and condemnable.
While he believed disagreements are normal in any human setting, he said the civilised way of resolving them was by communicating with one another through constant and continuous constructive engagement.
The resort to violence has never been known to have led to the resolution of any dispute, he said in a statement by Mukhtar Zubairu Sirajo.
“It is Senator Makarfi’s belief and conviction that since even after real war situations, peace and reconciliation terms are eventually discussed and agreed on a round table, violence shouldn’t be an option in the first place.
“The senator hereby appeals to all Nigerians to eschew violence, retrace their steps and return to the good old days when we all related with one another as brothers and sisters that we have always been. The artificial divisions that are threatening our fabric are alien to us as a people and it is in our enlightened collective interest to throw away the yoke, embrace one another and deploy that diversity with which God has endowed us for the overall development of all of us, so that we bequeath a legacy of unity in diversity for this and upcoming generations.”
But the National security Adviser, (NSA), Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd), said herders and farmers would continue to clash unless Nigerians respect each other’s cultural diversities, giving the multiplicity of cultures.
He tasked religious leaders to propagate virtues capable of transforming the minds of their followers.
“Our diversities remain our most prized assets from where we draw strength and attract global respect. Nigerians by nature are highly religious people who are committed religious values.
“In consequences, we look up to our religious leaders, both for moral and spiritual guidance who are highly respected and people of great virtues to play in the spiritual rebirth of our beloved country,” he said at a conference organised by the National Orientation Agency (NOA) in partnership with the National Troupe of Nigeria (NTN) in Abuja, where he was represented by AIG Peace Ibekwe.
That scores of people could be killed without any resistance by soldiers deployed to contain the security challenge, as far as the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is concerned is unimaginable.
“How could dare-devil criminals assault communities without resistance by security agencies to stop the killings. Are these herdsmen in bed with soldiers to unleash mayhem on these peaceful communities? Of what relevance is the intelligence gathering by the Department of State Services (DSS) and other security agencies? If communities can be attacked and hundreds slaughtered without security organisations providing rescue efforts, then, it becomes obvious that Nigeria’s security system has been compromised. From all indications, these attacks on the Plateau clearly showed that the Federal Government needs to review its security machinery in a bid to make it effective. Considering the level of the human carnage of these attacks, we once again call on the government not to rest on its oars until these criminals are brought to book as promised.”
Also, reacting, National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, accused the Buhari administration of lack of sensitivity to the plight of Nigerians.
The PDP leader said it had been one calamity after the other since the ruling party assumed the reins of power in 2015.
“Otherwise how does one explain the genocides in Plateau that was carried out for over five hours and there was no interruption from any security body in a distance less than 20 kilometers from Jos, the state capital, headquarters of an Army and Airforce divisions with Police, Directorate of State Services DSS, Civil Defence and others.
“You can see what happened in Jos; over 100 people killed, where on earth or country can there be killing every day, and the government is doing nothing? All they have is propaganda. Don’t people in government have blood in their vein? It is a very painful experience. God will revenge on behalf of these people,” Secondus said.
The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan said it was shocked that at a time Nigerians expected the Presidency to take immediate action to restore order and safeguard lives of Nigerians, it had chosen the path of divisiveness.
“It is unfortunate that rather than taking actions to get to the roots of killings and banditry in the land, President Muhammadu Buhari resorted to political colourations by engaging in his usual blame game of unnamed politicians.
“It is equally disgusting that the Buhari Presidency relegated the main issue of the murder of our citizens and how to track down the perpetrators and bring them to book, thus confirming the fears of most Nigerians that this administration does not care about the lives of the people,” the PDP stated.
Sen. Jonah David Jang is concerned, the killing is a careful plan to wipe out the people and inherit their land.
“These continuous killings are fast becoming a coordinated attempt at genocide aimed at annihilating our people and stealing our God-given heritage,” he said in a statement by his media consultant, Clinton Garuba. (The Sun)