Published On: Sun, Jul 1st, 2018

Jos 86: Stop this senseless carnage

Jos, capital of Plateau state, is in the news again and for the most despicable and dastardly act and worst killings yet in the country by Fulani herdsmen. For six hours three local governments – Barkin Ladi, Mangu and Riyom – were turned into a killing field without any response from security agents, especially the military Joint Task Force.

A community attacked by suspected herdsmen in Barkin Ladi LGA of Plateau State. Photo Channel TV

When 74 people were killed in the New Year Benue massacre we thought the country had descended to its lowest ebb in barbarism. Now the Plateau incident has made it less odious and reprehensive. Just as this report was being written, Amnesty International, AI, released a statement that 1813 people were killed in the last six months of the year, more than the total number in 2017 and accused government of encouraging the killings.

After the massacre, the federal government quickly dispatched the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo to the state to hold town-hall meeting with the elders; followed the next day by the president himself. Just after all the condolence visits and crocodile tears, nothing is practically done to stem this; evidently we are waiting for the next killing and the cycle goes on.

The president compounded the anxiety of people when he insisted his critics are being unfair. Speaking during the visit he said the cause of the crisis was injustice and that his government has tried its best and can’t do anything except to pray.

“There is nothing I can do to help the situation except to pray to God to help us out of the security challenges. What has happened is a very bad thing. The bottom-line is that justice must be allowed to take its course”, he said.

This recent Plateau killing has reminded us for the umpteenth time that the issue of security and national coexistence is increasingly becoming more tenuous and challenging in spite of the claims by the Army and government about its success in securing the nation. Miyatti Allah, the umbrella body for the herdsmen, defended the killing, alleging that over 300 of their cows were killed or rustled.

It is really distressing to hear Speaker Dogara assuring Nigerians after a meeting NASS leadership with President Buhari that he is considering reorganizing the nation’s security architecture.  Still considering something after more than a 1000 lives have been snuffed out in six months! This does not show seriousness and concern.

However, the emergence of herdsmen as a new threat to life and property in the entire north central has continued to task the patience of Nigerians and their confidence in the government. Beside the immediate cause of the conflicts which is rationalized as control over grazing and farming rights between the indigenous people and herdsmen, there is also the question of religion: Most of the affected regions and areas are predominantly Christian communities.

For this to be happening in a government that came to power on the mandate to guarantee security in the country is worrisome; and for government to only make statements of condemnation about it and practically do nothing effective to stop such orgy of violence is irresponsible and even criminal. For the president to describe it as reprisal attacks gives it a certain colour of justification and legitimacy, which is not only disappointing but an abdication of constitutional duty sworn to protect all Nigerians.

There is no justification for the reign of terror in Plateau and most parts of the north central, whether reprisal or not. Government is in existence to ensure that people do not take laws into their hands – that is self or jungle justice – the law of might being right; it negates the existence of the state and undermines the very election of President Buhari.

What is happening in Plateau and elsewhere must stop and both the government and the military should take responsibility for this ugly development. Until people are sanctioned for failing in their duty they may never be alive to their responsibility. The President has not changed his service chiefs in three years even though they have served beyond retirement age. This is the time to change them.

As a newspaper, we agree with the Governors’ Forum that this situation is unacceptable and urge them to be open and frank with the security chiefs in their proposed meeting. This must stop else we will all come to grief.

President Buhari has not shown sufficient commitment, determination and neutrality in stamping out this menace that is posing greater danger to collective existence than even the Boko Haram insurgency.

If he could send a whole battalion against an armless group like IPOB, the president has no defence to be reconciliatory toward to the herdsmen. Two wrongs don’t make a right. If the herdsmen are attacked, then it is the responsibility of government to deal with the offenders.

This newspaper joins others groups and well meaning Nigerians in condemning such carnage and demand that the killings in Plateau must stop and call on President Buhari to find a permanent solution to it. His avowed resignation to prayer is defeatist and a tacit concession to the killers; that is not the reason we elected him.

He must remember that power is transient and his tenure will definitely come to an end; and his tacit support for the herdsmen is hardening positions and may become a source of future reprisals against the herdsmen setting the stage for ethnic conflagration.

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