The President Buhari-led Federal Government has by its defective response to killings by herdsmen wasted the huge public approval on which it rode into power, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) noted yesterday.
The body called for the immediate replacement of the inspector general of police and the redeployment of all police commissioners. It also urged Buhari to overhaul the National Security Council, with a view to sharing its membership equally between Christians and Muslims.
It sought the designation of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) as a terrorist organisation and called for the arrest of its leaders.
Briefing journalists in Abuja, CAN National General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Musa Asake, accused Buhari of creating the impression that he was in power to serve only the interests of his Fulani ethnic group.
He claimed the president was undemocratic, had no respect for human rights and the rule of law, and was adopting a Sharia ideology.
Asake regretted that the president had also failed to protect Nigerians by willfully permitting herdsmen to kill, destroy communities and turn the entire Middle Belt into a killing field, while enjoying government’s protection from counter attack, arrest or prosecution.
The murderous Fulani herdsmen have enjoyed unprecedented protection and favour to the extent they have begun to treat Nigeria as a conquered territory. And rather than prosecute them, the security forces, usually manned by Muslims from the North, offer them protection, he said.
According to him, instead of bringing the leadership of Miyetti Allah to book for being the masterminds of the genocide, top functionaries of the government are advocating grazing colonies, with a view to granting them free land and support.
“By failing to curb the attacks of the Fulani herdsmen, President Buhari has failed to uphold Section 14, Para. 2 (b) of the Constitution that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.
“The Christian Association of Nigeria has reviewed the catalogue of horrendous and inhuman attacks on several states and mostly Benue State from 2013 to 2018. The impression has now been firmly established that the Islamists of the North have ‘legalised jihad’ in Nigeria,” Asake said
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) also warned, yesterday, that if government is incapable or unwilling to protect its citizens from the marauding herdsmen, the people might be tempted to defend themselves. The group also warned of the possibility of a complete breakdown of law and order in the country.
“Herdsmen may be under pressure to save their livestock and economy but this is never to be done at the expense of other peoples’ lives or livelihoods. It is, therefore, madness to slaughter fellow human beings, and shameful that we had to show the world this ugly picture of our country,” said CBCN in a statement by its President, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, and Secretary, Most Rev. William Avenya, in Abuja.
The chairman of the Christian Youths Coalition for Peace (CYCP), Reverend Johnson Audu, meanwhile, has condemned calls for the Benue State government to organise youths into armed militia groups for self-defence, saying the move would erode peace in the country.
But constitutional lawyer and former National Secretary of the Labour Party, Kayode Ajulo, differed, saying: “Self-defence is a resort that has been successfully employed the world over and even in some areas in Nigeria with success. It cannot fail now. And so, it must be an option fed with supervision to communities, in not just Benue State but in all areas in Nigeria whose natives live in constant fear of threats to their life or property.”
This came as the House of Representatives, yesterday, resolved to set up a high-powered committee to conduct a two-day public hearing on the crisis, with a view to finding a lasting solution.
The House condemned the mayhem, adopting two consolidated motions jointly sponsored by Babatunde Kolawole and Dickson Takighir.
At the plenary, presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, the lawmakers particularly expressed concern over the murder of 70 persons in Logo and Guma Local Councils of Benue State.
Lawmakers, who contributed to the debate, included Princess Olufunke Adedoyin (APC: Kwara), who fingered internal migration, deforestation and the scramble for land. Wale Raji (APC: Lagos) blamed laxity on the part of security agents.
Mid-way into the debate, tempers almost flared after Sadiq Ibrahim (APC: Adamawa) and Aisha Dukku (APC: Gombe) tacitly spoke in support of the herdsmen’s need for an environment to rear their cattle.
House leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, who summed up the debates maintained that no condition warranted the Benue killings, saying there was the need to revisit the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocol on migration of goods and services to prevent murderous herdsmen from entering the country.
Rising from six hours of debate, yesterday, over the killings, the Senate urged Buhari to protect life and property in the country.
It deliberated on the matter based on a report by its committee on security and infrastructure. It also sought the arrest, within 14 days, of persons involved in the Benue incident and mandated its President, Bukola Saraki, to meet with Buhari and ensure the recommendations are implemented.
“The president must act. Those responsible must be held accountable. Military all the time cannot be the solution. The military is being stretched. That is not good for us. More importantly, action must begin to happen, to show to Nigerians that we are not just talking. We need to ensure that this never happens again. We need to restore hope,” Saraki said.