A frontline Nigerian critic has chided President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement absolving the herdsmen of the massacre of persons in Plateau State but blaming politicians who are ready to take advantage of the tragedy for their political gains in 2019.
Reno Omokri, a Senior Assistant to the then President Goodluck Jonathan in his Twitter handle Monday said ‘’Miyetti Allah issued a statement explaining why their herdsmen killed almost 200 Christians in Plateau state. 8 hours later the Buhari Presidency releases a statement absolving the herdsmen who had already claimed responsibility and blaming politicians! Wonders!
Reacting to the recent clashes that left scores dead, President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement issued Monday by Malam Garba Shehu, his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, had blamed the escalation of the herders-farmers conflict on politicians who are taking advantage of the crisis for political gains in the upcoming 2019 elections.
“We know that a number of geographical and economic factors are contributing to the longstanding herdsmen/farmers clashes. But we also know that politicians are taking advantage of the situation. This is incredibly unfortunate,” Buhari stated.
Yet, Danladi Ciroma, the chairman of The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN)’s North-Central zone, had alleged that the indigenous Berom youths have been stealing cows from herdsmen, with about 300 cows lost to cattle rustling in the last few weeks.
He said, “These attacks are retaliatory. As much as I don’t support the killing of human being, the truth must be told that those who carried out the attacks must be on revenge mission.’’
Shocked Omokri remarked ‘’The saddest part of this saga is that Buhari’s government persists in its deception that herdsmen are ‘mere criminals’, not terrorists. Mere criminals who have killed Nigerians on a scale that can only be described as genocide. Deaths of thousands of Nigerians is considered mere!
Recall that MACBAN’s chairman, Ciroma, explained why herdsmen were allegedly involved in the recent attacks that led to the death of at least 86 people in 11 communities in Barkin-Ladi, Riyom, and Jos South local government areas of Plateau State on Saturday, June 23, 2018.
According to him, “There have been recent reports of cow rustling and destruction of farms between Berom farmers and Fulani herdsmen. The people carrying out these criminal activities are well known to the communities but the communities are hiding them.
“Fulani herdsmen have lost about 300 cows in the last few weeks – 94 cows were rustled by armed Berom youths in Fan village, another 36 cows were killed by Berom youths. In addition to that, 174 cattle were rustled and the criminals disappeared with them to Mangu.
“Since these cows were not found, no one should expect peace in the areas. Even soldiers that went after the criminals to recover the rustled cows were shot by the armed rustlers and eventually escaped with all the cows.
“The government of Governor Lalong has done a lot to restore peace, but the criminal elements hiding among their people are the ones frustrating these peace efforts.
“Though the security agencies have tried, they need to do more by being fair to all parties; they should not neglect any report presented by Fulani of Berom because such report can lead to attacks and deaths if not properly handled.
“Criminals thrive a lot in Berom communities, but when the Fulani, who are always victims of their crime, react with attacks, they blame the government.
“These communities have leaders, why hide the criminals? They should fish out the criminals and hand them over to security agencies to avoid death of innocent ones.
“As it is today, the Berom man cannot go to farm, the Fulani cannot breed his cows in Berom Land.
“This can be stopped if the security agencies do more than what they are currently doing. The attacks will stop as soon as the security agencies stop Berom youths from stealing Fulani cows.”
Some reports have noted that five Fulani herdsmen were killed by ethnic Berom farmers on Thursday, June 21, leading to the reprisal on Saturday.
On Monday, President Buhari in his Twitter handle, said Nigerians affected by the herdsmen/farmer clashes must always allow the due process of the law to take its course rather than take matters into their own hands.
The statement said the information available to the Presidency indicated that about 100 cattle had been rustled by a community in Plateau State, and some herdsmen were killed in the process.
“The state governor, Simon Lalong, had invited the aggrieved groups and pleaded against further action while the law enforcement agents looked into the matter. Less than 24 hours later, violence broke out.
“Some local thugs then took advantage of the situation, turning it into an opportunity to extort the public, and to attack people from rival political parties. There were reports of vehicles being stopped along the roads in the state, with people being dragged out of their cars and attacked if they stated that they supported certain politicians or political party.
“On his way back to Jos after attending the All Progressives Congress (APC) Convention in Abuja, the state governor had to dismantle a number of illegal road blocks set up by these thugs. There were also a number of dead bodies thugs had killed, lying along the road,” the statement read in part.
In another statement by Femi Adesina, his media spokesman, Buhari said politicians have hijacked the discord between farmers and herdsmen to cause chaos in the country.
“We know that a number of geographical and economic factors are contributing to the longstanding herdsmen/farmers clashes,” he said.
“But we also know that politicians are taking advantage of the situation. This is incredibly unfortunate.”
He, however, urged affected persons not to take matters into their hands.
“Nigerians affected by the herdsmen/ farmer clashes must always allow the due process of the law to take its course rather than taking matters into their own hands,” Buhari said.
Meanwhile, the Police Command in Plateau had on Sunday confirmed the killing of 86 people in attacks on Razat, Ruku, Nyarr, Kura and Gana-Ropp villages of Gashish District in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of the state.
The command had earlier said that only 11 persons were killed.
ASP Terna Tyopev, the command’s Public Relations Officer (PPRO) confirmed the new figure on Sunday in Jos.
The Plateau Government had since announced a dusk to dawn curfew in Riyom, Barkin Ladi and Jos South local government areas to check further breakdown of law and order in the state.
Even though eyewitnesses have reported a death toll of well above 120, the state’s police command said on Sunday, June 24, that 86 people were killed in the wave of violence with 50 houses also reported to be burnt.
The attacks took place in Xland, Gindin Akwati, Ruku, Nghar, Kura Falls and Kakuruk in Gashish District, as well as Rakok, Kok and Razat in the Ropp District, leading to subsequent retaliation by locals who reportedly targeted Muslims in some communities.