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Fulani Herdsmen: Soyinka warns Buhari against ‘looking the other way’

Soyinka warns Buhari against "looking the other way" on herdsmen

He said herdsmen have been treated with kid's gloves even when they have admitted to killing.

Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has warned President Muhammadu Buhari against tolerating what he describes as the 'impunity' of Fulani herdsmen who have been blamed for several bloody attacks in the country.

The literary icon's warning comes in the wake of savage attacks orchestrated by Fulani herdsmen in Benue State that has left 71 people dead.

In a statement released on Wednesday, January 10, 2018, Soyinka said Fulani herdsmen have been treated with kid's gloves even when they have admitted to the killings in the past.

He further drew a comparison between the acts of the group and that of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the southeast which was declared a terrorist organisation after a series of clashes with the Nigerian Army.

He pointed out that the government has treating the herdsmen crisis the same way former President Goodluck Jonathan badly responded to the Chibok Girls kidnapping by terrorist group, Boko Haram.

He said, "We have been here before – now, 'before' is back with a vengeance. President Goodluck Jonathan refused to accept that marauders had carried off the nation's daughters; President Muhammed Buhari and his government – including his Inspector-General of Police – in near identical denial, appear to believe that killer herdsmen who strike again and again at will from one corner of the nation to the other, are merely hot-tempered citizens whose scraps occasionally degenerate into "communal clashes" – I believe I have summarized him accurately.

"The Marauders are naughty children who can be admonished, paternalistically, into good neighbourly conduct. Sometimes of course, the killers were also said be non-Nigerians after all. The contradictions are mind-boggling.

"The present national outrage is over impunity. It rejects the right of any set of people, for whatever reason, to take arms against their fellow men and women, to acknowledge their exploits in boastful and justifying accents and, in effect, promise more of the same as long as their terms and demands are not met.

"In plain language, they have declared war against the nation, and their weapon is undiluted terror. Why have they been permitted to become a menace to the rest of us? That is the issue!

"Permit me to remind you that, early in 2016, an even more hideous massacre was perpetrated by this same Murder Incorporated – that is, a numerical climax to what had been a series across a number of Middle Belt and neighbouring states, with Benue taking the brunt of the butchery.

"A peace meeting was called, attended by the state government and security agencies of the nation, including the Inspector General of Police.

"This group attended – according to reports – with AK47s and other weapons of mass intimidation visible under their garments. They were neither disarmed nor turned back.

"Such are the monstrous beginnings of the culture of impunity. We are reaping, yet again, the consequences of such tolerance of the intolerable.

"Yes, there indeed the government is culpable, definitely guilty of 'looking the other way'. Indeed, it must be held complicit.

"I am not aware that IPOB came anywhere close to this homicidal propensity and will to dominance before it was declared a terrorist organization.

"The international community rightly refused to go along with such an absurdity. The conduct of that movement, even at its most extreme, could by no means be reckoned as terrorism. By contrast, how do we categorize Myeti?

"How do we assess a mental state that cannot distinguish between a stolen cow – which is always recoverable – and human life, which is not.

"Villages have been depopulated far wider than those outside their operational zones can conceive. They swoop on sleeping settlements, kill and strut. They glory in their seeming supremacy.

"These crimes are treated like the norm. Once again, the nation is being massaged by specious rationalisations while the rampage intensifies and the spread spirals out of control.

"When we open the dailies tomorrow morning, there is certain to have been a new body count, to be followed by the arrogant justification of the Myeti Allah.

"The warnings pile up, the distress signals have turned into a prolonged howl of despair and rage. The answer is not to be found in pietistic appeals to victims to avoid 'hate language' and divisive attributions.

"The sustained, killing monologue of the herdsmen is what is at issue. It must be curbed, decisively and without further evasiveness.

"Yes, Jonathan only saw 'ghosts' when Boko Haram was already excising swathes of territory from the nation space and abducting school pupils. The ghosts of Jonathan seem poised to haunt the tenure of Mohammed Buhari."

Benue attacks

In attacks allegedly carried out by Fulani herdsmen in Guma and Logo Local Government Area of Benue between Sunday, December 31, 2017, and Tuesday, January 2, 2018, 50 people were reportedly killed.

11 other people were killed in a fresh attack on Tombu village of Logo LGA, again by suspected Fulani herdsmen, on Saturday, January 6, 2018.

According to Governor Samuel Ortom's Chief Press Secretary, Terve Akase, the death toll for the attacks hit a total of 71 victims on Monday, January 8.

Earlier on Monday, the governor had declared three days of mourning in the state for the victims of the attacks. The mourning period runs from Tuesday, January 9, to Thursday, January 11, ending with a church service for the victims at the IBB square in Makurdi, followed by a mass burial.

Police charge 6 to court

The Benue State Police Command arraigned six Fulani herdsmen who are suspected to be connected to the massacre of over a dozen people in Guma LGA on January 2.

The suspects were allegedly involved in the killing of 19 people in Akor village and were arraigned at a Chief Magistrate Court in Makurdi before Chief Magistrate Isaac Ajim on Friday, January 5.

Alongside the six already charged to court, the state's police command also arrested two suspects in Logo LGA on Wednesday, January 3.

After meeting with Ortom on Tuesday, January 9, President Buhari promised that the country's security agencies are committed to bringing the perpetrators of the attacks to justice.

He posted on his official Twitter account (@MBuhari), "I just met with the Governor of Benue State. I assured Governor Ortom of our total commitment to the security of lives & property in Benue and elsewhere. We have deployed additional security resources to fish out the attackers, bring them to justice, and prevent further attacks."

In response to the attacks, President Buhari had, on Monday, January 8, ordered Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to relocate to the troubled state and prevent the escalation of the crisis.

Curated: Meets Media.ng

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