Addressing herdsmen violent acts
There is growing act of violence with the potential to undermine national security if not frontally addressed; herdsmen acts of terror across the country.
Over the years, they have been reports of murder, rape, kidnappings and other untoward acts allegedly perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen. Each time the allegations are made, the federal authorities are quick to dismiss such claims as unfounded.
However, there has been empirical evidence over the past months pinning acts of terror on some Fulani herdsmen that best could be described as outlaws.
In September 2015, one-time Minister of Finance, Chief Olu Falae was kidnapped from his farm in Akure on his 70th birthday by Fulani herdsmen who wanted a ransom of N100 million. The elder statesman was with the kidnappers for almost a week before he was rescued by the police.
Following investigation, the culprits were arrested and it turned out the suspects were none other than Fulani herdsmen.
Before the furore which Falae’s kidnapping could die down, the marauding group kidnapped the Obi of Ubulu-Uku, Agbogidi Akaeze Ofulue of Aniocha South Local Government Area (LGA) of Delta State and killed him, dumping his body which was found days later in advanced stage of decomposition.
Those arrested again by the police turned out to be herdsmen. The latest orgy of violence in Agatu, Benue state where hundreds of villagers; women, children, young, aged – have been killed in cold blood questions the sincerity of the Nigerian State in dealing with this matter.
While the argument have been made that the herdsmen need grazing fields for their cattle, it the same token, it should be realized that these farmers have to till their land as their own means of livelihood, therefore should not sacrifice their age-long means of existence for herders.
It is about time that the federal government and states in the north, from where these herdsmen migrate from, begin to set up ranches in line with global trends. The days of itinerant herders is no longer fashionable, therefore the excuse that it is the Fulani way of life is not tenable.
The most worrying aspect is the sophistication of arms at their disposal so much so that they overrun whole villages in the most reprehensible manner and have little or no regard for constituted authorities.
It is about time that the federal government shows that Nigeria is not an Animal Farm where some lives matter than others. If the government fails in reining in the band of marauders which the herdsmen have become, it sends the wrong signal that communities especially in the Middle Belt should seek for arms to defend themselves.
The predictable outcome of militarised communities for Nigeria is better imagined.