They have been tagged Fulani herdsmen and they are on a killing spree never before known in the country. It appears to me that these merchants of death are happy to be referred to as Fulani herdsmen because it plays into ethnic fireworks that may eventually blow up on everyone face.
It is possible that the initial confrontations and killings may have been between farmers and real Fulani herdsmen. But the scale and modus operandi of the recent killings are clearly indicative that another death horseman is galloping across the country while government looks on. These attacks have nothing to do with cattle rustling. They are well planned and executed wars gradually spreading across Nigeria. And government is complicit. It is very difficult to think otherwise. There is no display of outrage. There are no condemnations of these obnoxious acts as you should expect. In fact, it is fast becoming the new normal. Indeed, everyone is beginning to beg the issue. One minute, we are told about cattle rustling. Another minute we are told that these people are not even Nigerians. They are either from Niger or Chad. Yet another minute, we hear of a grazing reserve across the country to take care of the herdsmen.
If the herdsmen are Nigeriens and Chadians, when did our country become a game reserve for foreigners who are blood tasty? If these cold killers are indeed foreigners, why are we treating them with kid gloves as if they are a special breed of people with international license to kill anywhere they wish?
Again, government subtle justification for the killings as a revenge for cattle rustling is even more frightening. Are we saying that the victim of any robbery has the express permission of the state to kill the robber as well as everyone in the robber’s community?
Why are the security forces scared to even investigate who these killers are? Why are they afraid to go after them to make arrest? What is really going on here? How can Arase, the IG of Police be issuing a fatwa on petrol hawkers who are providing beneficial downstream services to stranded motorists instead of mobilizing his men after the cold and serial killers invading our communities? Does Arase even know that police officers also buy or sometimes steal petrol from hawkers. Does he understand that artisans buy petrol in kegs to power their generators and households do same to power their homes? By the way, under what law will Arase prosecute hawkers of petrol? No wonder twenty four hours after Arase’s empty threats, hawkers of petrol are going about their normal duties.
Nevertheless, returning to this article’s main concern, who on earth authored that vexatious and inciting statement from the department of state security about the killing of some Fulani herdsmen in Eastern Nigeria? Is Marilyn Oga still there or has another strange fellow taken up her ignoble role?
Is there something Nigerians should know about Mr. President’s lethargy over the death of thousands of Nigerians slaughtered in their home land? Why would a President who is pained about inheriting an insurgency and is doing all he can to put a stop to it, allow another form of insurgency to take root right under his watch? Haven’t we had enough distractions already?
How come the National Assembly is just waking up to acknowledged an issue which has endured over the years? Are they just realizing that the people they represent are dying like fleas? Why would the governor of Enugu, the chief security officer of the state simply resort to weeping and declaring two days of mourning as a proper and adequate response to the killing of the people he has sworn an oath to protect. How come communities around the country are simply waiting to be the next victims? These are the questions bugging the minds of Nigerians at the moment.
Just how much is the life of a Nigerian really worth? Across the country, on a daily basis, Nigerians are raped, kidnapped or killed. Most of the perpetrators of these crimes just walk away to commit the next crime. In some cases, they even get help from security officers, especially the Police. A friend told me that when his brother was kidnapped and he reported the matter to the Police, he overheard one of the officers calling someone to ask “na una do am”, meaning are you the ones that did the kidnapping.
What manner of a country are we building? Those who think they are protected because they go around with a horde of security men should think again. There have been several unsolved high profile killings too. Those maltreated, over worked and dejected security personnel they depend on for security often turn to be their betrayers. Everyone will live in peace when and only when we build a society were every life counts. The culture of violence and killings that has become normal will eventually terrorize everyone and we will one day all become victims directly or indirectly. Government must act now against these merchants of death dubbed herdsmen and and all other groups that are wantonly taking the lives of Nigerians.
Adjekuko, an economist, wrote in from Abuja. [myad]