Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has said only evil-minded people could accuse him of condoning killings across the country.
Buhari reiterated that no one, in their right minds, would suggest that he, who emerged president with substantial votes from the affected areas, could do any harm to the same people. The president said this when he met with members of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), from the 19 northern states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.
Buhari reiterated that killings did not start with his administration but he is doing everything to end it.
“When some (people), for clearly political purposes, attempt to suggest that this government is doing nothing about the killings, and that I, being Fulani, must be encouraging these satanic acts, it seems to me that there is no limit to the evil in the minds of men. Otherwise, how can anyone in their right minds suggest that I, as an elected president, even with substantial votes in the affected areas, will for any reason do harm by an act of omission to those same people?
“Secondly, the problems in all these areas, as you all know, are historical. There is no administration that has not had to contend with killings in these same areas over the years.
“Indeed, in 2001, you may recall that, after thousands were killed in Plateau state, a state of emergency was declared and a governor was replaced by an administrator.
“To suggest that our administration is doing nothing is terribly unfair. We must not forget that the same Plateau state, which has been crisis-ridden for years, has, in the past three years been celebrated for its peacefulness. The governor’s hard work for peace and the presence of the military’s Operation Safe Haven must have had some impact.”
President Buhari informed his guests that his administration had deployed extra special forces to the troubled zones. “This is why we must all rise as one to condemn these vile
and wicked acts to ensure that all the culprits are brought to justice…” he said.
On his part, Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, who was among the delegation, told State House Correspondents that the act of occupying sacked villages by invading herders must be stopped so that traumatised villagers can return to their abodes. Lalong said he would sign an amended criminal law in the state, next week, to curtail activities of bandits as well as ease their prosecution with stiffer penalties
Earlier, Chairman of CAN in the northern states, Rev. Yakubu Pam, on behalf of the delegation, urged the president to give country’s security architecture a new lease of life and responsiveness to earn the required trust, confidence, and support of the general populace.
The cleric urged him to ensure that all communities ravaged by the herdsmen violence in the North are rebuilt and adequate security be put in place to enable displaced persons to return to their homes and means of livelihood.
He urged the government roll out a robust advocacy programme to enlighten the nomadic herders on modern cattle rearing against open grazing and roaming across states and national boundaries. Pam also urged government to encourage herders to acquire land for cattle ranching across the country as a means of private business investment