Twenty-Four hours to Super Eagles’ last group match against Argentina on Tuesday, which, eventually, ended the national team’s campaign at the World Cup in Russia, one post on Facebook, and the reactions therein, attracted my attention. It was an expression of wish by a versatile journalist, Emeka Alex-Duru, perhaps, borne out of frustration that the euphoria of the Mundial was drowning the cries of anguish in Nigeria.
Emeka, understandably ill at ease that there was excitement and frenzy about the World Cup among Nigerians, at a time when close to 100 people were killed in Plateau State, had wished, in his post, that the World Cup campaign for Nigeria ended so that the citizenry would face the challenges and realities of life. Knowing Emeka for who he is, I can say his wish was not based on lack of patriotism or hatred for the national team. No. It was simply because he could not come to terms with the fact that people cheered and jubilated over football when the country was in mourning following the massacre of villagers in Plateau State.
Expectedly, some people did not agree with Emeka, going by reactions to his post. There were, however, many others who thought he was right and did say so. Agree with him or not, Emeka made his point. He underlined the fact that a country whose citizens were murdered in cold blood by herdsmen should be in mourning. For 86 people to be killed in one fell swoop is a tragedy of monumental proportions. It calls for sober reflection as to how bestiality has taken over the country, to the extent that killings are now rampant.
Yes, Nigeria has become a country of blood and death. Citizens are now killed like chickens in their homes, farms and communities. Life appears not worth a kobo in the country as herdsmen, gunmen, Boko Haram fighters and other criminals wreak havoc in villages. Last May, for example, blood flowed freely in villages in the North Central geopolitical zone. There was a particular week when close to 100 were killed in different communities. On Sunday of that week, 15 people were murdered in Borno and Kogi states. On Tuesday, two Catholic priests and 17 worshippers were killed inside a church in Benue. On Wednesday, about 44 people were murdered in Benue and Nasarawa. On Thursday of that week, gunmen killed seven people at an Internally Displaced Persons’ camp in Benue.
The killings in Plateau State, this week, are the latest in what is becoming a daily catastrophe. The brazen nature of it, like in previous ones in others states, rankles. As reported, herdsmen just went on rampage, swooped on the communities and killed all people in sight. It was said that the villagers had attacked herdsmen over the invasion of their farmlands by cattle. And the devastating attack, which claimed 86 lives, was retaliation that the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association has justified. The association said the killings were carried out because the villagers attacked its members and killed 300 cows. What impunity!
It is, indeed, curious that the Miyetti Allah leadership has owned up to what is obviously a terrorists attack and nothing has happened. If a village is attack and people killed, no matter the circumstance or provocation, it is nothing but a crime. The authorities should call a spade a spade. To leave the man who has owned up to the crime makes whatever promise of bringing perpetrators of the Plateau killings to book a huge joke. The perpetrators are known and should be made to face the full wrath of the law. That is the only way government would convince anybody that it is ready to bring an end to the impunity and brazen lawlessness of cattle herders.
The destruction that herdsmen have brought upon people who dare to question them for grazing just anywhere has exceeded tolerable limits. Their audacity is annoying. The government must rise up to its responsibility of not only ensuring the protection of life and property but also making it a duty that those who take the law into their hands are punished. Severally, President Muhammadu Buhari has said that government would fish out those behind the killings and make them to pay for their crimes. Surprisingly, in all the killings in Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi and others, where herdsmen were fingered, nobody has ever been punished.
It is worth restating that the activities of herdsmen and sundry bandits in the North Central and North East are security risk. A band of armed men, who commits crime and gets away with it,
is a threat to the government and the country. The government should go beyond talking tough to doing something tangible to stop the brigandage of herdsmen and other criminals. A government that cannot protect its citizens has failed in one of its cardinal responsibilities.
The state governments in North Central, on their part, should by now know that their people are endangered species. Benue is under attack. Nasarawa is under siege. Plateau is not safe. The people, therefore, should be vigilant. As they say, a man surrounded by enemies should be on his guard. This is why the people and government of the states should work together to ward off a common enemy. By now, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State must have known that whatever affects Benue also affects his state. When he blamed the attack on Benue on Governor Samuel Ortom’s anti-grazing law, he might have thought his state was a safe haven. Now, Plateau has experienced killings by herdsmen where there is no anti-grazing law.
Like the North Central states, the South East people and governments should not relax, thinking that all is well. After Benue, coming down South, Enugu State is the gateway to the South East.
It is left for the South East governors and leaders, therefore, to know how to engage the herdsmen or the measures to take to ensure that the zone does not suffer the fate of Benue, Plateau and Nasarawa.
A stitch in time saves nine.
Uwakwe Abugu: Goodbye to faithful comrade
Today, as the late Chief Press Secretary to Enugu State governor, Mr. Uwakwe Abugu, is committed to Mother Earth, one cannot help but feel a deep sense of loss. It is saddening that a fine gentleman, a thoroughbred professional and a faithful friend has gone.
Uwakwe, who died a few weeks ago in India, where he had gone for medical attention, has gone like a “candle in the wind.” He had the fear of God. He was unassuming and selfless.
Indeed, a good man is gone. May his soul rest in peace, in the bosom of the Lord. Amen.