I am not silent on killings by herdsmen – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday faulted those who accused him of being silent on killings being carried out by suspected herdsmen in parts of the country.
He said there was injustice in such aspersions.
According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President spoke during an interactive session with stakeholders in Jos, Plateau State, over the recent attacks that left scores of people dead.
Buhari said people were blaming him for not talking to the herdsmen probably because he looked like them.
He appealed to Nigerians to avoid inflammatory utterances that could endanger peace or promote conflicts.
The President said, “Whatever is being given to the media, we have to be very responsible about it.
‘‘Take for instance the situation in Benue. The Benue subsistence farmer knows that the Nigerian cattle herder that he knows doesn’t carry nothing more than a stick, occasionally sometimes something to cut grass to feed his cattle.
‘‘But the present herder, I am told, carries AK47 and people are even blaming me for not talking to them because maybe (they say) I look like one of them.
‘‘There is some injustice in these aspersions.”
Buhari directed security chiefs in the country to remain vigilant and ensure the protection of lives and property.
He also urged traditional and community leaders to complement government efforts by persuading their constituencies to tolerate one another for peace and unity in the country.
The President added, “I will continue to pressurise members of the law enforcement agencies directly under me by the constitution as the Commander-in Chief.
“About eight days ago, we had five hours security meeting of the service chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police.
‘‘What happened here in Jos is very bad. The question of leadership, from your household to whatever you are, is justice. The bottom line is justice.
‘‘That is why wherever I go, I will always appeal to the leadership of the communities and the law enforcement agencies, to always have control over their constituencies.”
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Buhari, who was accompanied to the meeting by Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State and his counterparts from Kebbi and Niger, condoled with the affected families, the government and people of the state, and wished those injured a speedy recovery.
Others in his entourage were the ministers of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali; Interior, Abdulrahman Danbazzau; and Information and Culture, Lai Muhammed.
Also with Buhari was the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadiq Abubakar and the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris.
The major stakeholders in attendance were senior government officials, National and State House of Assembly members, traditional rulers, leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Ja’amatu Nasril Islam in Plateau State.
The President’s visit came less than 24 hours after a similar visit by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) who met with the stakeholders.
Earlier in his remarks, Lalong blamed parties in the conflict in the state for reneging on their agreement to maintain peace, leading to the recent upsurge in violence, after nearly three years of calm and normalcy in the state.
“We are concerned as a state that the sophisticated weapons used in these attacks, from the evidence on the ground and the narrations of victims, are not those conventional to our environment for self-defence but reflective of a terrorist invasion.
‘‘It, therefore, demands a justified response like that which was undertaken to address the Boko Haram insurgency,” he said.
The governor also requested that given the number of villages completely ravaged in the violence, the Federal Government should establish an Emergency Special Intervention Fund to help reconstruct the destroyed communities.
Killings, senseless, barbaric, says NLC
Meanwhile, the killings attracted more condemnations on Tuesday with the Nigeria Labour Congress saying that the government must design a framework for peace to end the bloodshed.
The congress said it was disturbed by the range of targets, the duration of the attacks and the scope of casualties and destruction.
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said in a statement in Abuja that the statistics were numbing, describing the incident as senseless and barbaric.
He added that it threatened to shatter once and for all the bonds of brotherhood and peaceful co-existence.
According to him, the security agencies, though stretched, must be seen to do more to restore the confidence of the civil populace.
“If the emerging allegations are true that the attacks went on unchecked for hours, then something needs to be done about the reaction time of our internal security operations in the state.
“Beyond this, the Federal Government and Plateau State Government in consultation with the parties to this bloody conflict should design a framework for an enduring peace,” Wabba insisted.
He called on the governments to quickly move to rebuild the devastated communities and restore shattered lives while admonishing the victims against reprisals, stressing that it could not bring the much needed peace in the state.
Speaking in the same vein, the Nigerian Baptist Convention, FCT chapter, and the Christian Association of Nigeria, North-Central geopolitical zone, condemned in strong terms, the killings.
FG has failed, says CDHR
The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights said the killing was a sign that the Federal Government had failed.
The CDHR in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Henry Ekine, decried the state of insecurity in the country.
According to him, the right to life is guaranteed under Section 33 of Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amendment, as well as under the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Article 4); the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (6) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Articles 3).
The CDHR said, “The state has the primary responsibility to ensure the security and welfare of the people, as provided under section 14 (2) (b) of Chapter II of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amendment.
“Such mass killing was apparently akin to genocide and indicative of a failing state. The government has indeed failed in its core responsibility to protect lives and property of citizens at all times and in all parts of the country.”
Atiku condemns killings
Also a former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and a former Minister of Special Duties, Alhaji Tanimu Turaki, condemned the killings.
The two chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party made the condemnation in separate interviews with journalists after their interaction with the Forum of PDP Former State House of Assemblies Presiding Officials in Abuja on Tuesday.
Atiku, a PDP presidential aspirant, who described the killings as unfortunate, stressed the need to adopt measures including community dialogue to address the lingering crisis.
He said, “I just listened to a former deputy speaker, a lady for that matter, and she made two points; hard and soft powers in resolving the crisis. I like that idea.
“It is not every security breach you can you use hard power on. You need to establish dialogue between the leadership of various communities that lived together over the years.”
On his part, Turaki, another PDP presidential aspirant condemned the killings saying every single life that was lost had the potential to do a lot for Nigeria.
He attributed the killings to the failure of the APC-led Federal Government and failure among various security agencies.
“If you recall, few months ago the National Security Agency had appeared before the Senate and disclosed that the greatest problem that the Nigeria security agencies have today is that the agencies work at cross purposes. There is no cooperation, there is no synergy.
“If critical security agencies are not sharing information or working together then how do you expect them to come up with tight security architecture that will safeguard the lives and property of Nigeria? And that is what is happening.’’
He commiserated with the people and government of Plateau over the loss of lives.
Buhari not doing enough to end killings – Reps
Also, the House of Representatives said President Buhari must take immediate steps to halt the killings by herdsmen in the country.
It noted that the country could not afford to continue to lose its citizens as if human lives no longer matter.
The Leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, told The PUNCH in Abuja that to contain the killings, the President and the government should think harder about the appropriate measures to bringing a lasting solution.
Gbajabiamila added, “The President and the government will continue to do all they can to arrest these killings and surely more needs to be done.
“It is absolutely difficult to understand why human life should be so cheap.
“Christians are being killed; Muslims are being killed. What is important is that they are human beings and the killings must stop.
“This is a strange phenomenon in Nigeria. Perhaps, it requires government to think outside the box and do something extra-ordinary.
“It requires an urgent and surgical fix.”
PFN tells Buhari to stop killings, warns against reprisal
On its part, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria commiserated with the families of the bereaved and urged Nigerians to refrain from reprisals to enable the government to perform its constitutional responsibilities.
The National President of the PFN, Rev. Felix Omobude, in a statement on Tuesday, lamented that the lives of Nigerians had been cheapened by mindless criminals who swooped on unsuspecting residents and killed them without restrictions.
He, therefore, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to live up to his responsibility of ensuring the safety of lives and property, adding that “any government that cannot protect its people does not deserve to remain in office.”
The cleric stated, “President Muhammadu Buhari should immediately bring the mindless killings going on in the country to a halt because Nigerian lives, whether Christians or Moslems, are very important. The perpetrators of these dastardly acts must be fished out and punished appropriately.”
Omobude added, “Never in the history of Nigeria have the lives of Nigerians been so cheap. Today, people in any guise can kill with impunity and get away with it.
“Hundreds of people are being slaughtered at regular intervals and the criminal elements seem not to be brought to justice. There is the need for our government and security forces to be proactive instead of reactionary.
The President had after a closed-door meeting with government officials, security agencies and traditional leaders in Plateau State said he was committed to the protection of lives and property and would not run away from the responsibilities for which he was elected in 2015.
The President appealed to the people to bury their differences and work together for the peace of the state.
IG removes Plateau CP
However, Idris has removed the Plateau State Commissioner of Police, Undie Adie.
The removal of Adie followed the killing of more than 100 people by herdsmen in three local government areas of the state on Sunday.
The spokesperson for the Plateau State Police Command, Matthias Tyopev, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, in a statement on Tuesday, stated that a Deputy Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma, had replaced Adie.
Tyopev stated, “Today, 26th June, 2018, a new commissioner of police, Bala Ciroma, has assumed duty as the Commissioner of Police, Plateau State command.”
He also said the IGP had directed Adie to report to the force headquarters in Abuja.
The new commissioner, who is from Yobe State, was previously a deputy commissioner of police, criminal investigation and intelligence department, at the force headquarters in Abuja.
Osinbajo confirms arrests of suspects
Also on Tuesday, Osinbajo confirmed that some persons had been arrested in connection with the killings.
According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, the Vice-President disclosed this during a meeting he had in the state on Monday with the leaders and representatives of communities related to the conflicts.
Osinbajo did not however disclose the number of the suspects arrested.
APC govs to visit Plateau on Friday
The Imo State Governor and Chairman, Progressives Governors’ Forum, Rochas Okorocha, has indicated that the APC governors will visit Plateau State on Friday.
The governor disclosed this on Tuesday at the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport on arrival from Abuja after the national convention of the party.
According to him, while on the visit, the governors will assess the situation and interact with the governor of the state.
He said, “I, with the rest of the governors of APC, condemn in its entirety these unwarranted killings of innocent souls, and shedding of blood. We have called them insurgents. We’ve called them Boko Haram, we have called them all kinds of baptismal names and because the situation is not properly defined, most people hide under the cloak of religion of Christianity or Islam to create harm.”