Herdsmen attacks a ploy for ethnic cleansing, Afenifere alleges
• Demands resignation of defence minister Dan Ali
• FG talks tough on violence, promises end to clashes
The wave of killings by herdsmen across the country amounts to ethnic cleansing by the minority Fulani group, stated pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, yesterday.
It regretted that “the killings and arson attacks now wear the garb of state-approved expeditions, given the loud silence of the president.”
It noted: “Nigeria has become a primitive and barbaric enclave, as the state is either complicit or unwilling to stop these dastardly acts.”
Afenifere condemned the “huge killings field” it said armed Fulani herdsmen have turned the country into, citing especially the New Year massacre in Benue State.
The group made the observation at its General Assembly and public hearing, held at the house of its leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, in Akure, yesterday.
“It is not a religious issue. It is a racist tendency, to achieve ethnic cleansing, putting other ethnic groups at risk,” said guest speaker, Dr. Charles Adisa, who noted that the methods of the Fulani contradict global best practices.
Afenifere also called on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to “immediately reorganise the country’s security architecture to reflect diversity,” noting that the current situation “where 16 out of 17 service chiefs are from a section of the county is unhealthy and promotes clannishness in dealing with security issues in a multi-ethnic set up.”
It demanded the “immediate removal” of the Minister of Defence, Brig. Gen. Mansur Dan Ali, accusing him of “insensitivity and sanctioning of the killings of Nigerians.” It stressed: “This is the only way to show that the lives of Nigerians still count.”
It called for the immediate restructuring of the country into a proper federation with units having their own police forces, to guarantee security and law enforcement.
The organisation rejected the move by the Federal Government to establish cattle colonies, saying the concept is offensive, repugnant and an affront to the rights of non-Fulani communities whose lands would be forcibly acquired and subjected to an alien culture under the guise of cattle rearing.
“Yoruba people would not allow any colony on their land, as we are a free people. Anyone who wants to raise cows within our space should do ranching,” the group said.
It added: “We call on the government to put a halt to the culture of repression going on in the country and realise that we are in a constitutional democracy where the rule of law should prevail.
“Lastly, we call for a collective rescue effort by patriots in organising and mobilising effectively for a movement around federalism that can save the republic from collapse and put Nigeria back on track and guarantee the security of life and property and prosperity for all.”
The Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd), meanwhile, has described the spate of kidnappings, herdsmen attacks and cult activities in various parts of the country as a declaration of war against the state.
Dambazau, who represented Buhari at the ninth General Assembly of the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria (NCTRN), held in Port Harcourt, yesterday, stressed: “As a responsible government, we will not condone this. All troublemakers, criminals and violent entrepreneurs should be ready to face the consequences of their acts. While the Federal Government is doing everything possible to tackle the root of crime and violence, we expect citizens to respect and obey the laws governing our society.”
The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, called for the decentralisation and de-politicisation of security services. “Even as we may continue to live in denial, the recurring bloodbaths in Benue, Taraba and other states have once again exposed the weaknesses of our country’s centralised policing system as well as the frustrations and near complete helplessness of state governors in their quest to provide adequate security for the communities and the people they govern,” he said.
In a related development, the Federal Government reiterated its commitment to ending clashes between herdsmen and farmers. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo gave the assurance, yesterday, in Abuja, while receiving a delegation at the Presidential Villa.
The team was led by the traditional rulers of Batta and Bachamma communities of Adamawa State: HRM Hama Batta, Homun Alhamdu Teneke; and HRM Hama Bachamma, Homun Honest Irmiya Stephen.
“President Buhari is determined to resolve the herdsmen-farmers clashes in Adamawa State and restore peace and order to the affected communities,” Osinbajo said.
A statement by Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, quoted him as saying: “Much damage has been done, not just security-wise, but also to the psyche of the people. Due to the series of attacks, people are afraid. We are looking at repairing the damage that has been done to the infrastructure of the communities and rehabilitating the people.”
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