Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has opted for full military force to deal with the bandits believed to be behind the killings in parts of the country especially regarding the crisis often associated with herdsmen, authoritative sources say.
A Presidency source, who wanted to remain anonymous, disclosed that this was one of the outcomes of the Working Group formed less than two weeks ago by the National Economic Council with nine governors, and chaired by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in a renewed bid to end the impunity that has marked the activities of the bandits resulting in several deaths and maiming especially the recent case of Benue State.
The source also confirmed that the military were already engaged and would soon begin to implement decisive military steps to tackle the situation. Also the Nigerian Police and other security agencies have been asked to recruit more rank and file to tighten security in the troubled spots and in the country generally.
The source also hinted that the role of bandits and suspected mercenaries in what has become known as herdsmen/farmer clashes provoked the need for a fresh approach to dealing with the crisis.
According to the source, the view in official circles is that the reported killings and violence recorded are the work of bandits and mercenaries since in many cases the herdsmen are often well-known in the communities where their cattle normally graze.
The Kano State Governor Dr. Abdullahi Ganguje who read out highlights and decisions of the last NEC had said the Working Group “will work in accordance with the President’s commitment to ensuring that all perpetrators of violence are brought to book.”
The Working Group which consists of Governors from Zamfara, Kaduna, Adamawa, Benue, Taraba, Edo, Plateau, Ebonyi and Oyo States actually commenced its work with a meeting presided over by the VP right immediately after NEC at the Presidential Villa.
The source disclosed that at the end of the inaugural meeting, “it was clear a major turning point had been reached in the management of the crisis and sufficient consensus recorded on the need to stop the impunity by engaging the military in a more decisive manner.”
They also concluded that the crisis also required a political solution considering the religious and ethnic tones that could easily become further exacerbated and possibly worsen the situation if proper and timely care is not taken.
According to the source, “Indeed one of the firm outcomes of the Working Group’s meeting was the expressed readiness of the FG to locate and identify the bandits who perpetrate the killings and the violence, and using all necessary means including military involvement to flush them out of their hideouts in forests across the country as a definite move to secure the life and property of Nigerian citizens.
“The Working Group has also resolved to work with the federal government to strengthen law enforcement and all security and intelligence agencies in the country so they can coordinate better in dealing with, checkmating, and preventing the crisis from further escalation.”
On how to permanently address the basis of the herdsmen and farmer clashes, the source maintains that the view has been taken that every State should by a rigorous consultative process with all stakeholders design its own solutions.
“The Federal government will not impose any solution on any State. The Vice President assured all that the Federal government would certainly not imposed its ideas on the States and noted that fears being expressed on cattle colonies are misplaced.”