The massacre of over 20 members of the Ukpabi Nimbo community in Enugu State by rampaging Fulani herdsmen on Monday calls for drastic action by the Federal Government to
halt the march of the cattle rearers, who are now holding the nation by the jugular. The bloody midnight raid on the community located in Uzo Uwani Local Government Area of the state
followed many other deadly attacks on farming communities in other parts of the country, with attendant casualties.
The impunity with which unconscionable herdsmen are unleashing violence on farmers in the country has become a threat to the security and unity of Nigeria. The time has come for the Federal Government and its security agencies to stand up to the challenge of these herdsmen
and stop them from this heinous enterprise.
The alternative, which is to leave the embattled farming communities no choice other than to take the law into their own hands and forcefully repel the attacks of the cattle breeders,
can only have grave implications for the peace and future of the country. The possible
consequence of such a scenario is better imagined than experienced.
This is why we enjoin the Federal Government to intervene in this matter and bring
the herdsmen and their sponsors back to the path of reason.
WE must curtail the onslaught of the herdsmen with a robust response from the security agencies or risk a catastrophe that could undermine the unity of the country.
It is heartwarming that President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday ordered security agencies to stop the herdsmen’s attacks. He should ensure that they do just that. Nigeria needs to be proactive on this matter if it is not to spell doom for peaceful co-existence in the country.
Since the herdsmen’s raids escalated in the past few months, and the tallies of their casualties multiplied, the attackers have neither been identified nor brought to justice. Worse still, there are no indications that the nation’s security agencies are interested in either pre-empting or repelling them.
Many times, the attackers massacre the farmers at will, with no hope at all of help from security operatives. In the particular instance of the Enugu State attack, security agencies were reported to have failed to act on credible information on an impending attack on the Ukpabi Nimbo community. The result of that inaction was the mindless attack which left scores of people dead and the state governor, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, weeping during a visit to the community on Tuesday.
This sordid state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. Chapter 2, Section 14 (1) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) states that “the security and welfare of the people of Nigeria shall be the primary purpose of government”. The government must live up to this responsibility by immediately tackling the herdsmen’s threat to the peace and unity of Nigeria.
The recent announcement that the Federal Government is handling this issue silently does not address the magnitude and urgency of this problem. At the same time, the decision of the government to acquire vast hectares of land in each state for cattle rearers through the proposed National Grazing Routes and Reserves Commission bill is unpopular with many Nigerians. The Senate has since denied working on any such bill, even though the Order Paper of the House of Representatives shows that the lower legislative chamber deliberated on it, on March 15.
So many opinions have been canvassed on the way out of these herdsmen’s attacks. The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has called on the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the Committee on National Security and Intelligence to conduct a public hearing on the matter with a view to articulating a lasting solution.
This will help the effort to find a solution to the problem. The security agencies should also investigate the acquisition and use of high calibre military assault rifles by the herdsmen. They should not be allowed to operate above the laws of the land by wielding unregistered firearms. Cattle owners should be mandated to build ranches and put an end to the era of wandering herdsmen. Such era belongs to antiquity and should be done away with.
We have earlier condemned the murderous march of the herdsmen on the Agatu people of Benue State and other farming communities in states like Oyo, Delta, Ondo, Plateau and Ogun. Nigerians expect the security agencies to give a good account of themselves on this matter. They should all rise up to the challenge of the rampaging herdsmen.