Who will stop these killings?
Again, the specter of anarchy haunting Nigeria’s corporate existence resurfaced as the country grieves over the gruesome massacre of at least 86 persons in 11 Plateau villages.
The Plateau carnage comes barely two weeks after 40 others were killed in Zamfara State, in a manner reminiscent of the January 1, 2018 Benue killings and the infamous Agatu pogrom in February 2016.
Similarly, the recent history of Taraba, Adamawa, Kaduna, Borno, Yobe, and Nasarawa states is dotted with horrific killings, a situation illustrating how inhuman and dangerous the country has become.
As the country mourns, the gory pictures emanating from scenes of pillaged villages and butchery of women and children reveal one worrisome fact- a barbaric culture has made an inroad into the country’s social space and its citizens are losing their humanity.
That Nigeria has failed in its constitutional obligation of ensuring the security and wellbeing of its citizens is visible in the sustained and widespread manner the bloodbath is splattered across its landscape.
The country has failed that pregnant woman in a viral video whose fetus was ripped and destroyed as she died under the knife of her attackers; it has failed that young man whose body was severed by his attackers and several families who were denied the basic right to life.
While the murderers thrive in their evil cause, efforts by the Federal Government and its security apparatus to curtail the bloodbath have been anything but convincing. On several occasions, President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to bring perpetrators of this violence to book.
Surprisingly, while the killers have not hidden their identities but publicly acknowledged their role in the wanton destruction of lives and property, no perpetrator has been brought to book, except the five Christian farmers in Adamawa state who were sentenced to death by the court after killing a Fulani Herdsman. Despite running a country awash with ethno-religious violence, no other conviction has been secured whatsoever; thus, casting doubts on the neutrality of the country’s leadership in tackling the crisis.
While it is true that savage and brutal killings in Nigeria are timeworn, the threat to national security posed by Fulani Herdsmen became more formidable under Buhari’s administration. To the president’s credit however, he ordered the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, to visit Benue State in the aftermath of several killings and seek ways of putting a stop to the threat, but his orders were flouted much to the surprise of Nigerians without any sanctions.
Arguments are rife that Nigeria runs a compromised national security system whose personnel are brazenly taking to ethnic, religious and regional alignments. After the killings in Plateau, Amnesty International raised doubts on the neutrality of Nigeria’s security forces when 11 villages were attacked for at least 7 hours without their intervention. The United Nations also added its voice in condemning the killings and calling for an end to the carnage in Nigeria and other parts of Africa.
Fed up with the incessant killings, some state governments like Benue and Ekiti enacted anti-open grazing laws criminalizing arbitrary grazing. After the anti-open grazing law became effective in Benue, several attacks followed and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, whose members are allegedly orchestrating the violence, blamed the attacks on the new law calling for its suspension. However, Plateau and Zamfara killings negate that position which was also held by the Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong.
On March 24, 2018, Nigeria’s former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, urged Nigerians to defend themselves against killers in the country as the armed forces were not ready to defend them.
As Nigeria’s security agencies appear overwhelmed by the situation or perhaps strategizing or ill-prepared to tackle it, the government must imbibe virtues of basic humanity by empathizing with families of the bereaved and resign from the helpless disposition its silence over the crisis has inferred.
In the face of severe national security challenges, such as these, it is imperative for government to overhaul its security system. Except the country’s leadership is playing to the gallery over the issue of security, it would appoint only fair-minded security chiefs.
It is also appalling that no service chief has resigned over the widespread killings or been called to question for the gruesome massacres in their jurisdiction; and it seems normal that nobody is taking responsibility for anything.
The government must hold security officers to account and impose sanctions where they fail in their duties, which they have.