•Orders total clampdown, insists Benue killing result of communal clashes
•Umahi heads committee to talk with Miyetti Allah
Molly Kilete; Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, yesterday ordered state commissioners of police to as a matter of urgency disarm all militias, vigilantes and other security outfits set up by governors to protect their citizens.
The IGP equally reiterated his earlier position that the renewed killings in Benue State were communal clashes. He was speaking in Abuja when he met with officers with the rank of commissioner of police and above.
He said the Nigerian Constitution made it clear that only the security agencies were empowered to carry arms and ammunition.
Idris did not, however, state whether or not the same law applied to Fulani herdsmen accused of carrying sophisticated weapons and killing innocent citizens.
He said: “We are entering a very tedious and serious situations in this country.
“The political issues are coming up to the fore and officers must gear up in our various locations, in our various responsibilities to ensure that we provide law and order all over Nigerian.
“We are now coming into a political arena. Commands should be very conversant about the arming of militiamen or vigilante.
“Before a vigilante is established by government, you must have a bi-law, which must be passed by the house of assembly.
“It is the responsibility of the commissioners of police of the commands to study these bi-laws and see how they conform with the constitution and other laws of this country.
“But whereby through the connivance of some police officers you have a command arming militiamen under several names. Our officers are to brace up to face these challenges.
“No country, no government in this country have the responsibility to approve some prohibited firearms to any Nigerian under any guise.
“It is the responsibilities of CPs of commands to put close watch on the activities of some of these governors arming individuals, which is against the laws of this country.
“All of us are aware about these prohibited firearms. You cannot give approval for any individual to own a pistol. You cannot give an approval for any individual to own an AK-47, riffle.
“These are prohibited weapons and only the government has that authority to give that approval.
“I want to call on our commissioners of police of various commands, you have to be on the watch out for these abuses at various levels.”
To justify his claim that the incidents were communal clashes, Idris said: “About two or three days back, we had an incident we are investigating in Gboko, where seven Fulani men in pubic transport traveling to Taraba State and stopped at Gboko. The youths there seeing they were Fulani just pounced on them, killed and roasted them.
“I dispatched our monitoring team to Benue and arrests were made in that area and we are going to investigate it thoroughly.
“These are clashes occurring between two members of the community. As Nigerians, we should learn to live together, we should learn to be tolerant of each other.
“When I had a briefing with the traditional rulers in Port-Harcourt, I told them they have a lot to do to bring peace and harmony within their community members.
“This country needs leaders who should unite the communities, not leaders who create divisions.”
On why he was still in Abuja, despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to him to relocate to Benue, the IGP said:
“I was there for about eight days and when I was coming back, I left the DIG there.
“I came back from Port Harcourt yesterday (Wednesday). The situations in Benue and Nasarawa states have reduced drastically.”
Meanwhile, the National Economic Council meeting (NEC), headed by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday set up another sub-committee headed by Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, to meet with Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, (MACBAN) and other groups to end the continued killings.
The committee could invite others who could assist in holding dialogue with the critical stakeholders to end the killings.
This was disclosed to State House correspondents by the Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum and Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, at the end of a three-hour meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Others in attendance were Governors Simon Lalong (Plateau), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Jibrilla Bindow (Adamawa), Deputy Governors Benson Abonu (Benue), Moses Adeyemo (Oyo) as well as Ministers of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh and Interior, Lt Gen. (rtd) Abdulrahman Dambazau.
The NEC Working Group consisted of governors of Zamfara, Kaduna, Adamawa, Benue, Taraba, Edo, Plateau, Ebonyi and Oyo states.
The group was set up to end the impunity that marked the activities of Fulani herdsmen resulting in several deaths and maimings especially in Adamawa, Benue, Taraba, Plateau and Nasarawa states.
Daily Sun had reported on Monday that the Federal Government opted for full military force to deal with the bandits believed to be behind the killings in parts of the country especially regarding the crises often associated with herdsmen.
At its inaugural meeting, the group concluded that the crisis also required a political solution considering the religious and ethnic tones that could easily become exacerbated and possibly worsen the situation if proper and timely care was not taken.
When asked of the progress made to find lasting solution to the crisis, Yari said: “There is progress. One, this committee is a NEC committee established by the Vice President so that this issue of herdsmen/farmers clashes will be put to rest.
“It is a long standing problem since 2007 in some states particularly in my own state, we have been battling with it. The states and Federal Government agreed to have a small committee at NEC so that the situation will not get out of hand, so that it won’t be looked at as an ethnicity crisis or religious crisis.
“We have set up a committee headed by the governor of Ebonyi State, while Plateau and Adamawa governors are members. We are bringing some technocrats who will visit hotspot states, like Benue, Taraba, Adamawa and Zamfara, so that they can interface with the Meyitta Allah and other groups.
“Why we cannot say we can put this matter to rest is because some of them have taken this as a money making venture. Some are criminals who hide under this to perpetrate this act.
“As government, we have to take all the measures despite the fact that the Army, Police, all the security agents are on the field at the respective places, still we have to form this committee to interface with those actors to end the crisis.”