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Policy incoherence fuels herdsmen’s attacks

By News Express on 29/03/2017

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There is now a commonality of opinion that the rate of violent attacks of farmers across Nigeria by armed Fulani herdsmen skyrocketed since the emergence of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari who, by birth, is a Fulani.

Conversely, since he assumed office last May, President Buhari has yet to articulate a workable public policy framework on how best to effectively combat the rise in armed Fulani attacks/insurgency. It is then correct to affirm that at the macro level there is total absence of a coherent public policy to deal decisively with the grave phenomenon of armed Fulani terrorism. There seems to be a deliberate dereliction of duty by the entire top commanders of the security forces and police, which has created the motivation for the sponsors and masterminds of the rampaging armed Fulani terrorists. 

At the micro level, it looks like only the Ekiti State Government has successfully enacted and enforced a law to check the excesses of armed Fulani herdsmen. Much as all other states have experimented a distorted form of policy of appeasement this, to a large extent, has not worked because any society that appeases violent elements will live to regret such miscalculations. 

Government exists all around the civilised world to enforce law and order, and to bring the fullest weight of the law to bear on law-breakers, and not to appease offenders.

Benue is one such state that experimented with appeasement even after armed Fulani herdsmen invaded and destroyed most local communities and killed thousands of villagers.

In Kaduna State, the controversial governor who is Fulani by ethnic origin, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, stepped up his government's appeasement policy by reportedly offering payments in exchange for a ceasefire deal that collapsed as soon as the  ink in which the cheques were signed dried up. Armed Fulani herdsmen are directly responsible for hundreds of murders in the Christian dominated Southern Kaduna State.

Then on the Benue appeasement’s scenario, which resulted in the alleged donation of substantial grazing land near the destroyed communities in the Idoma-speaking areas of the state to the Fulani herdsmen by the state administration, it's a classical case of organised confusion.

This poorly articulated policy of appeasement did not work because soon after the so-called agreement was reached, other armed Fulani attacks have happened, which has so much annoyed the Benue State governor that he has to give a notice to the Fulani herdsmen to quite Benue within a specified time-line. The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, directed security agents to ensure the exit of Fulani herdsmen from Buruku and Gboko local government areas, as a result of recent security breaches. The directive, which fell on deaf ears, came as the House of Representatives passed a resolution calling on President Buhari to direct the immediate disarmament of armed and strange herdsmen in Buruku and other parts of Benue State and throughout the country. Ortom also requested them to arrest those of them responsible for killings in the areas.

Thereafter the governor received reports – after an on-the-spot security and humanitarian assessment tour of Logo and communities in Mbalagh part of Buruku Local Government Area - that the invaders had killed six people in Igyorov council ward of Gboko. Ortom said the communities in the affected areas told him they had no grazing land. The governor gave the directives to the Commanding Officer of the 72 Special Forces Battalion, Colonel Nura Muhammad Inuwa, and the State Police Commissioner, Mr. Bashir Makama, after on-the-spot visits to trouble spots in Logo and Buruku local government areas. He lamented what he described as the cold blooded murder of residents in parts of Buruku and Gboko local government areas, saying it was clear that farming and grazing were incompatible.
After hearing statements from both sides, Ortom said it was clear that casualties came only from the side of the invaded communities. The governor urged the security agencies to live up to their responsibilities of securing lives and property in the state, and arresting those responsible for the killings.

According to him, the security agencies have assured him that the invaders would be flushed out and the displaced would return to their ancestral homes. But contrary to the assurances to flush out the armed Fulani herdsmen, the police commissioner has reportedly called the bluff of the governor in a media statement, telling the Benue State governor that he lacks the power to expel armed Fulani herdsmen. 

This failure of the Benue State governor to sufficiently exercise his constitutional power as the Chief Security Officer of the state is a manifestation of the abysmal failure of the distorted form of federalism practised in Nigeria, whereby states lack policing institutions peculiar and uniquely formed by the people to work for the people. Nigeria operates a dysfunctional federal policing system whereby a particular section of the country dominates the commanding hierarchy, to the exclusion of some others; just as police commissioners who aren’t conversant with their states of posting are simply posted by the Inspector-General of Police who, apparently, is not completely knowledgeable about the crime maps of all component parts of the country.

RIGHTSVIEW appears on Wednesdays, in addition to special appearances. The Columnist, a popular activist, is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA). He can be reached via 08033327672 (sms only) or via doziebiko@yahoo.com

Source News Express

Posted 29/03/2017 3:34:25 PM

 

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