Posted by News Express | 30 April 2020 | 942 times
Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has expressed shock and surprise at the statement accredited to President Muhammadu Buhari in his COVID-19 broadcast of April 27, 2020, wherein he told bewildered Nigerians that his government has reviewed how farmers can safely plant and harvest in this rainy season, a call many believed means Nigerians can return to their farms.
The rights group recalled that on items number 35 on this list of issues raised by the President he said: “We reviewed how our farmers can safely plant and harvest in this rainy season to ensure our food security is not compromised. Furthermore, we also discussed how to safely transport food items from rural production areas to industrial processing zones and ultimately, to the key consumption centres.”
However, HURIWA said it believes that the President's claim either means he is not aware of the dangers faced by farmers across the country in the hands of armed herdsmen who have continued to wreak havoc in different parts of the country or he is simply underplaying such threats posed by the herdsmen.
In a media statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said that “since the beginning of the year, armed herdsmen have continued to carry out mindless attacks of farming communities across the country thereby forcing thousands of farmers and villagers to abandon their farms while running for their lives,” a situation many security experts believe will impact negatively on food production this year.
HURIWA has also asked the Federal Government to meet with the Governors of Taraba and Benue States to also determine the best solution to the inter-ethnic battles and bloody violence between the communities of Tiv and Jukun given that the continuous war between these huge farming communities which have escalated since the COVID-19 lockdown started may lead to scarcity of yams and other essential farm products.
The rights group lamented that in April 2020 alone, “dozens of local farming communities in Niger, Kaduna, Plateau, Adamawa, Delta, Katsina, Ekiti, Ondo, Zamfara etc have been attacked and their farms destroyed by the herdsmen. In Kaduna few days ago, several farming communities were attacked in Chikun Local Government Area where over a dozen persons were killed and farm produce worth millions of naira destroyed by armed herdsmen. Similarly in Kauru and Kajuru LGAs of the same state, several farming communities were attacked with over a dozen farmers killed and farm produce worth millions destroyed by herdsmen.
“In Delta, Plateau, Adamawa, Ekiti, Ondo, Niger, Katsina, Zamfara and Kogi the story remains the same as armed herdsmen have attacked, killed and destroyed farms worth millions.”
HURIWA expressed huge disappointment with the government for failing to protect these local farmers most of who have fled their communities because of incessant attacks by the herdsmen.
The right group said the President’s claim would have made more sense if he had highlighted in clear terms what his government has done or is doing to put a stop to the “atrocious activities” of the armed herdsmen across the country.
“We wonder why the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has feigned ignorance of the incessant violent attacks of farming communities during this period of health emergency by armed Fulani herdsmen and terrorists. This is to say the least disappointing.”
HURIWA therefore called on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency address an obviously looming food crisis by constituting a military task force to crush the armed herdsmen who have made farming impossible in several farming communities across the country.
It also called on the Federal Government to immediately prosecute arrested armed herdsmen to serve as deterrent to others still engaging in such atrocious acts, adding this became necessary as “not a single armed herdsmen has been convicted so far for terrorism or related crimes.”
HURIWA wondered why the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Alhaji Abubakar Malami (SAN), and the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, have looked the other way while armed Fulani herdsmen and terrorists embark on wanton destruction of farms and farmers.”
HURIWA said that any call for farmers to return to their farms without first addressing the issues above will amount to suicide call and the government will be held responsible for death and destruction of properties that may occur from obeying such calls.
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