RECENTLY, I WAS CHATTING ON A social media (precisely WhatsApp) with a friend when suddenly I received a video message which has gone viral. I decided to pause and check what the message was all about.  Lo and behold what I saw was indescribable; it was likened to a horror film.  Actually it turned out not to be a horror film but a live slaughtering of human beings.  It was the scene of about five men who were assumed to be Fulani herdsmen that had captured two unsuspected, unarmed farmers (I suppose) and their bodies were lying lifeless on the ground with their hands and legs firmly tied with rope.  At the instance, one of the men brought out a knife and started slaughtering, stabbing, cutting the bodies on the ground as if they were cows on the slaughter slab. It was like a scene from a horror mov­ie –only that this was no film. Neither was it a rehearsal. I could not withstand watching the scene because I felt this was dehumanizing in the land where democratically elected government that is headed by a former military general allowing this type of barbaric act to thrive.  I strongly felt anarchy has come to play in the land.  The perpetrators of this evil and ugly act might either be Christians or Muslims.   

The federal government is not paying sufficient attention to the issue of these Fulani herdsmen and their tyrannical tendencies all over the country. The situa­tion is getting grimmer by the day, it could result in an ex­pansive conflagration that might be difficult to contain.  There is no question about the fact that this is becoming a monster of sorts. I have had cause likewise majority of Nigerians to express views on this on many occasions and it is like the calls are being ignored.  The menace is gradually moving towards a precipice and we must do something about it as early as possible. It is getting dangerous. The audacity is very disturbing.  These herdsmen must be called to order. These wanton destructions, au­dacious incursions into other people’s territory cannot continue for too long. They just go to the farms and devas­tate the farms. Some farmers have been turned to perpetual debtors be­cause some of the inputs for the farms are from bank loans. The herdsmen will just get there and destroy these farmlands, and we are talking of di­versification. Across the country in the past months, not a few are those that have expressed worry at the sudden, glar­ing temerity of the herdsmen, many of whom have now discarded their signature herdsman’s sticks, replacing them with assault rifles like AK 47. These days, from community to community, they strike, triggering deaths and wreaking massive misery on villages and villag­ers. They sack entire communities and rape both young and old women.

Clashes between Fulani herdsmen and local communities are no recent developments. Over the years, farm­ers and cattlemen have engaged in bloody feuds in many communities across the various states in the coun­try. The herdsmen have been accused of leading their cows to graze on farmlands, totally devastating crops and people’s means of livelihoods. And at the slightest resistance, the herdsmen would go on the rampage, killing farmers, burning farms, houses and pil­laging entire communities.

I think if we do not do anything about the activities of these herds­men, I can see a threat to the security of this country. It is a major challenge and I think the President and all major stakeholders should take this as a very serious challenge.  For years, the Fulani cattlemen have always left a gory trail of tears, sorrow and death across the country after each bloody engagement with local farmers. Their atrocities have attained unprecedented in­famy and provoked global outrage when they attacked communities and villages. Villagers are crudely jostled out of their early morning slumber as gunshots pierced the ears and hot bul­lets pierced the hearts of men, women and children. Fulani fighters, armed with guns, machetes and charms, among other weapons of war, invade communities, killing and maiming and unleashing an orgy of violence. After murdering as many as they could and sacking the entire com­munities, the invaders set fire to houses, virtually razing everywhere.

Till date, no one has been able to give the exact number of those killed; this violence on innocent people is unacceptable.  The level of destruction is very shocking. This is a clear violence targeted at people, and this must stop forthwith.  The scarce regard for the sanctity of human life, as callously exhibited by the spate of senseless killings of defenceless people by rampaging, fully armed, in the country diminishes us as a nation, and as a people. Yet, it did not all start today. From Plateau through Taraba to Benue, the blood-thirsty marauders masquerading as pastoralists, but driven more by an expansionist agenda have wasted thousands of innocent lives. With impunity as their wielding stick, they still walk our streets as free men because in Nigeria, we are not equal before the laws of the land. That is just part of the pain.

The other is the obvious utter negligence of duty, or at best the lukewarm attitude of security personnel to the wanton wasting of the priceless lives of fellow citizens.  It is expected that policing should ordinarily embrace the culture of sensitive information gathering, identifying potentially volatile areas of conflict and deploying well-trained personnel there to forestall such issues from exploding to unmanageable conflagration.  Taking proactive measures would have saved thousands of lives.  Prevention, as the wise ones say is not only cheaper but wiser than cure.  Did these gory tales take place in the 21st century Nigeria; one may be compelled to ask?  Yes of course. Worse still, no one was brought to book, to pay for the priceless lives lost.  That again, shows us just how equal we really are before the law. Many a farmer has found themselves haunted by the spectre of armed pastoralists laying claim to lands they do not own.  They behave as if their cows were more important than the cash crops they trample on or turn to foodstuff or the irreplaceable lives of the owners they waste.  The Fulani Herdsmen have been a pain in our communities. There’s no State or region that would say they have not had their own bitter tales with the Fulani Herdsmen bothering on land dispute and grazing issues.

Indeed, the frequency and gravity of the killing spree by Fulani herdsmen should inform us that we are greatly under-secured.  It also shows that the current centralized security system, just like that of our political power structure is antithetical to the dictates of an enduring democratic culture.  We need more of community security, in a similar way that we deserve a diffusion of power from the bloated federal centre.  Impunity must be done away with.  Above all, Nigerians must be treated as equals before the law. I wish to end this write up by quoting Martin Luther king Jnr, “The deepest part of hell is reserved for those leaders who kept silent in the face of evil”.

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