Sun Newspaper Nigeria Herdsmen’s annual killing ritual

Discussion in 'Sun Newspaper Nigeria' started by Uche Atuma, Jan 14, 2018. Views count: 81

  1. Uche Atuma

    Uche Atuma Guest

    There’s nothing new under the sun? Not very true. There are many new things happening everyday. Don’t you watch video clips of impressive scientific and technological innovations every time on social media? The innovations and breakthroughs such as driverless cars, flying cars, etc., underscore the ingenuity of man and his superiority over other beings. Well, there’s nothing new under the sun. Maybe only in Nigeria. Our issues, challenges remain same. Nothing new. We aren’t moving backward, yet not forward at least in the warped perception of some of us that life isn’t sacred anymore. Here, if it’s not Boko Haram, degraded and downgraded, but still recruiting and dispatching young girls to go bomb themselves and others to death, then it’s some mindless cultists killing innocent citizens who are fresh from giving gratitude to God for crossing over into the New Year. Fellow citizens who are looking forward to a happy and prosperous year, just mowed down for nothing. Not really fighting a civil war, but all the same still at war with ourselves. And every time I ask, for what is this worth? Slaughtering fellow beings like animals. But the killing that’s assumed the status of an annual ritual is the herdsmen’s. Seventy-three Nigerians from Benue communities slaughtered in their own homes, on their own land. But it’s not new. It happened in 2017, 2016, 2015. In fact, every year.

    How many of us still remember that almost exactly same time last year, it was the same story of mindless killings by herdsmen in Southern Kaduna? The casualty figure was in the Kaduna episode reportedly as high as 800. The umbrella body for cattle breeders, Miyetti Allah blamed the attacks on the Kaduna farmers on alien herders on a reprisal mission. The blame in the latest Benue slaughter was heaped by the same Miyetti Allah on the Benue State Government’s anti-open grazing law.

    I wrote in this column almost exactly a year ago that after the Boko Haram insurgents, murderous herdsmen have taken the unenviable second position as killers of Nigerian citizens across the country in the recent past.

    Besides slaughtering and maiming farmers in their homes, the finger has been pointed at the herdsmen for being the masterminds of kidnapping and robberies on highways in different parts of the country.

    The way the herdsmen have carried on in the recent years has left the rest of us with the perception that they are above the law or that they enjoy some official protection.

    Yes, it’s good to eat beef. And the cattle trade is contributing to the country’s GDP, but must that be at the expense of the lives of other Nigerians? If the cattle herders must enjoy the freedom to search for greener pastures for their herds, must the farmers then not be free to grow their crops? Aren’t the farmers too not in the quest for their livelihood and also contributing to the nation’s economy?

    Official reactions when these senseless killings happen hardly give any assurance that the present administration and even the previous ones had any permanent solution.

    After the Kaduna incident last year, the Presidency announced that a squadron of mobile policemen would be stationed in Southern Kaduna. Two battalions of the Army would also be set up in the area. But if that had worked for Southern Kaduna, it didn’t help the Benue people who have become perpetual victims of the vicious herdsmen’s attacks.

    Now, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Inspector general of Police to relocate to Benue. Will that stop attacks in Plateau, Kaduna, Kogi, Enugu and other areas where the murderous herders have their tentacles.

    Similarly, the Senate President Bukola Saraki last year promised the Senate would investigate the Southern Kaduna killings. Whatever came out of the investigation didn’t stop the latest Benue attacks. The same Senate president had directed the members of the relevant committee to cut short their vacation to probe the Benue massacre. There’s indeed nothing new under the sun in Nigeria. Every time what you have is “a rash of official reactions to avoidable deaths that would yield nothing for the dead and little promise for the living.” Exactly my words in this column last year.

    And in April 2016, after the herdsmen attacked the Agatu in Benue and many other farming communities in four geo-political zones, the Presidency issued the following statement: “Ending the recent upsurge of attacks on communities by herdsmen reportedly armed with sophisticated weapons is now a priority on the Buhari administration’s agenda for enhanced national security and the Armed Forces and Police have clear instructions to take all necessary action to stop the carnage.” But has this changed anything?

    The Federal Government is now packaging cattle colonies, which the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh is speaking about with sugar coated tongue. I won’t win any trophy to predict that cattle colonies won’t work. Before you embark on your utopian cattle colonies, why not let us first have a national dialogue on how we can live together and relate to one another peacefully as Nigerians? It’s time we sat at the table and resolve to end these mindless killings.

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