Human rights lawyer and activist, Femi Falana, is not impressed with the decision of the National Economic Council (NEC) to set up a committee that will look into the killings by Fulani herdsmen. In his opinion, the committee which is headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and comprises of nine state governors is just an attempt to “chase shadows.”
And here is his key point:
- The herdsmen crisis is not a new development; it has been with the country for decades. Pres. Buhari campaigned during the elections on a plank to end the violence. So the idea of wanting to organize a conference on the matter as presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, said recently, or setting up a committee as the NEC did sounds utterly ridiculous.“The government is parading Nigerians as a bunch of jokers. It is not rocket science to solve this problem. We don’t want a committee for heaven’s sake! A committee to do what? To go and find out how many people have been killed? Or to establish the fact that we have been in this problem for five years running and nobody is addressing the problem… the committee is just to deceive Nigerians,” Falana said.
“In 2014, we lost about 1,300 people. Between 2013 and 2016, 1,800 people were killed in Benue state alone. And this government knew this problem before it came on board; it was part of its campaign,” he said. “And this government, upon its inauguration, has repeatedly maintained, and quite correctly, that the only solution to the incessant violent clashes between herdsmen and farmers is to establish ranches in the country.”
The sudden talk about wanting to build cattle colonies is also a non-starter for Falana. He said it is an attempt to confuse Nigerians.
“According to the minister of agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, the colonies will mean a group of ranches. Why are you using such word as if you are giving the impression in a tensed atmosphere that you want to colonise certain parts of the country. It is so nonsensical. Government has to take Nigerians seriously,” he said.
And concerning Pres. Buhari’s handling of this issue, Falana said:
“Since the colonial regime, this is the first time in the history of our country that any group is going about terrorising people with AK-47. And they have not been crushed. The Buhari administration declared a war on insecurity in the country.
“He prides himself as having successfully, to a large extent, tamed terrorism in the north-east. He crushed IPOB, a war has been waged against the militants. So, why are these guys allowed to go around killing people? You are just simply giving the impression that the Nigerian state has collapsed.”