For years (particularly the past twenty months), armed hoodlums masquerading as “herdsmen” have been attacking farming communities in the North Central, South East, South-South and South West areas of the country. Thousands of people have been killed; some of their victims were either slaughtered like animals or strafed to death with assault firearms.
Communities have been invaded; the frightened indigenes have been flushed out of their native lands, while the invaders took over these communities and led their livestock into people’s farms. In spite of several alarms and reports of these incidents by people of the affected communities, and sometimes even their state governors, the Federal Government and the law enforcement agencies remained aloof.
It was not until the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el Rufai, confessed that he paid Fulani cattle owners within and outside Nigeria in a bid to stop the killings that the outrage boiled over. Gruesome pictures of the savage killings circulated all over the world and the Federal Government finally drafted a combination of the Police and the Army into Southern Kaduna.
Perhaps, for the first time since the upsurge of these violent attacks, some suspects have been arrested and paraded along with huge caches of arms which were displayed.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Tukur Buratai, has also laid the foundation for the Army’s new Forward Operation Base (FOB) of the 2 Battalion, in the Zangon-Kataf Local Government Area, a measure which if genuinely implemented, will help in securing the lives and property of the Southern Kaduna indigenes.
We hope the Army will continue to spread its presence throughout the affected zones nationwide. They should work together with the Police and other security agencies to keep unwanted elements out of our forests and local communities, especially as it is often said that these invaders are usually “foreigners”.
Pending when the Federal and the various state governments would come up with strategies to confine the cattle business to ranches in line with civilised practice all over the world, we call for a code of conduct that will control nomadic cattle grazing in the interim. All herdsmen must be registered and issued with identity cards, while their cattle should wear tags with chips. This will help in combating trespassing into people’s property and guarding against cattle rustlers.
The Minyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and other groups in the cattle business must cooperate to ensure the documentation of their members and their livestock all over the country to enable the nation sift foreign intruders from our law-abiding local herdsmen. All efforts must be made to eliminate the violence perpetrated by armed herdsmen to avoid a total breakdown of law and orders.