Middle Belt groups, CSOs call for IGP sacking …as herdsmen behead man, kill seven in Plateau, Taraba
Middle Belt and civil rights groups have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, over the unabated killings by herdsmen, particularly in the North-Central part of the country.
The groups, in separate interviews on Friday with newsmen, said that the IGP was due for removal after disobeying a directive of Buhari that he should relocate to Benue State.
The Campaign for Democracy and the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights said besides the police boss, the heads of the military should also be removed.
The CD President, Usman Abdul, said, “To put it emphatically and going by the past and present realities, the service chiefs had their tenure extended twice by the President, which to me, did not show seriousness on the part of the Federal Government. The service chiefs have young, vibrant and efficient junior officers who should step into their shoes.
“The President has failed to declare the herdsmen as terrorists. He claimed to have defeated the Boko Haram but we have a more vicious enemy in the herdsmen. The IG is long overdue to be removed looking at the myriad of allegations around him on the dereliction of duty. It may only mean that President Buhari is no longer in charge. The service chiefs and the IG must go and we must bring in fresh blood.”
The call for the sacking of the IG and service chiefs came amidst reports of the beheading of a man in Plateau State and the killing of at least seven people in Taraba State by suspected herdsmen.
Also, the CDHR President, Malachy Ugwummadu, said apart from the sack of the IG and the service chiefs, those found culpable among them must be tried.
He said, “I am adding that apart from the clamour and agitations for the removal of these heads of security agencies, there must be some punishments for those who allowed these criminal inefficiencies.
“When we ought to have pressure and innovations from the police and military, we are recording more deaths. Under Section 33 of our constitution, the right to life is the most precious. Under Section 218 of the constitution, the President has the powers to determine the operational use of the police and armed forces, and the powers to appoint and remove all of them.”
On his part, President, National Council of Tiv Youths, Chief John Akperashi, said Nigerians were getting agitated.
He stated, “Considering the great lapses and obvious dark spots in the security establishments across the country, especially within the police and the military, one is tempted to say there is a grand plot for the relaxation of the commensurate security exercise in confounding the rascality and senseless brutality of the Fulani herdsmen.”
Akperashi wondered why the security agencies failed to tame killer herdsmen, when they swiftly moved to arrest Biafran agitators last year.
Also, the President of the Middle Belt Youth Council, Emma Zopmal, said, “The IGP should have been dismissed by now, but due to the affinity between him and President Buhari, he will continue to enjoy that office to the detriment of Middle Belters.”
The National Coordinator of the Human Rights Writers Association, Mr. Emmanuel Onwubiko, equally called for the sacking and prosecution of the IGP for negligence.
Onwubiko said this in a telephone interview with Saturday PUNCH, in Abuja, on Friday.
He was reacting to the growing rate of killings by suspected herdsmen in several states in North-Central Nigeria.
The coordinator explained that the “reckless statements” made by the IGP as regards the killings suggested that there was more than meets the eye.
Onwubiko said, “The IGP should not only be sacked but he should be prosecuted for criminal negligence. He has exposed himself as either a sympathiser or a supporter of those involved in these violent acts.
“For an Inspector -General of Police, who has constitutional duty to protect the lives and property of Nigerians to come out to say the only condition under which he could enforce a law that was duly passed by a House of Assembly is for the state to build grazing reserves for Fulani herdsmen, is an indication that the IG has failed in his duty to the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He should be sacked and prosecuted.”
Over seven people killed in Taraba
Meanwhile, at least seven people are feared to have been killed and property worth millions of naira destroyed following series of attacks on Takum and Ussa local government areas of Taraba State by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Executive Chairman of Ussa Local Government Area on Media and Special Duties, Mr. Agabi Andefiye, told Saturday PUNCH that the attackers on Thursday attacked and burnt Muji I, Muji II, Kando and Kpashimbe villages in Takum Local Government Area, killing five people, including a pregnant woman and her husband.
Agabi added that one Andeyantso Bulus was killed in Ussa Local Government Area while another person was killed in the neighbouring Yanghtu Special Development Area.
Takum Local Government Area is the home local government area of the state governor, Darius Ishaku, and that of a former Minister of Defence, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.).
Another eyewitness, Tanko Adiku, told Saturday PUNCH that several people were killed on Thursday when armed herdsmen attacked Muji II and several other communities in Takum. He added that three women were abducted by the attackers.
Tanko said the attackers, numbering over 60, invaded the village, bearing sophisticated weapons. He said the assailants shot at people, killing scores of people and burning several houses.
The Commissioner of Police, Taraba State, Mr. David Akinremi, confirmed the attack on Muji II, saying one woman was shot and killed when hoodlums attacked the village.
Akinremi said the command received a distress call about the attack on the village but before the police and other security agencies could arrive at the scene, the attackers had escaped to the hills in the area.
“I am not aware of the casualty figures and the abduction of women in the attack. I am only aware that one woman was shot and killed by the hoodlums and the place has been taken over by the police, the army and civil defence personnel.
“Some houses were also burnt in the attack, but we have yet to arrest anyone. However, our intelligence team is on the ground and we are on top of the security situation in the area.”
Fulani herdsmen behead man, burn houses in Plateau
Despite the imposition of a dusk to dawn curfew, a man identified as Joseph Alli, 23, has been killed and beheaded by suspected Fulani herdsmen during a fresh attack on Rotsu village, Miango District in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State.
The assailants were said to have helped themselves to the food the victim was about to eat and also taken his head away. Thereafter, the assailants were said to have set many houses ablaze.
The killing was said to have created fresh panic in the community with stakeholders arguing that the imposition of a curfew had not solved any problem.
The incident was said to have occurred around 9:30 pm on Thursday despite the feeling by some villagers that the curfew would reduce the killings.
A source in the village told our correspondent that the deceased had been buried.
“Joseph Alli was killed and his head severed from his body like that of a cow. In fact, his corpse was a gory spectacle. He was killed like a cow; I will not eat cow meat again for the rest of my life,” the source said.
The spokesperson for Miango Youth Development Association, Lawrence Zongo, gave a graphic detail of how the attack happened based on the information he got from eyewitnesses and relatives of the deceased.
He said, “The Plateau State Government has imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew. Alli was hungry and he decided to go to the kitchen to eat. Then he heard gunshots and in the confusion, he was attacked in the kitchen, taken out and killed. His head was cut off. The video we have showing his body is so scary. Alli was slaughtered like a goat.
“The killers ate the food that he was about to eat, burnt the kitchen and food barn in the house and left. Three houses around the area were also burnt. Before security operatives got there, they had escaped with his severed head.
“This incident happened despite the curfew imposed by the state government. It is too bad as we continue to bury our people daily. We urge our people not to take the law into their own hands but continue to be ready to defend themselves. It is too bad that a young man of 23 years old could be buried in Rotsu village without his head.
“We are not safe at all; farmers can’t go to their farms due to fear of the Fulani terrorists’ attacks. We want this mess to stop. The Federal Government should do well by declaring the killer Fulani herdsmen as terrorists.”
When contacted, the spokesperson for the Plateau State Police Command, Matthias Tyopev, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, said he had not been officially informed about the incident.
Although he promised to get information and get back to one of our correspondents, he had yet to do so as of the time of this report.
Efforts to reach the spokesperson for the Special Military Taskforce codenamed, ‘Operation Safe Haven’, Major Umar Adams, were not successful as he did not answer his telephone calls or call back.
The Plateau State Council of Chiefs and Emirs had on Thursday condemned the incessant killings perpetrated by suspected Fulani herdsmen with a call on the government to intervene and intensify efforts to ensure that sanity reigned in Nigeria.
Residents flee Kogi communities
Meanwhile, an unconfirmed number of people were said to be missing following a recent attack on Oganenigwu in Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi State by some suspected Fulani herdsmen.
There are also reports that the death toll in the violence has continued to rise but the casualty figures quoted by residents are conflicting, with some people saying as many as 25 persons were killed in a fresh attack on Friday.
This is in spite of the deployment of a combined team of police anti-kidnapping squad and a detachment of men of the armed forces in the area on Thursday afternoon.
It was learnt from sources on Friday that some residents of Abejukolo and Agbenema communities were relocating to neighbouring areas like Anyigba and Egume for fear of a likely attack.
According to a source, the number of people killed in Wednesday’s attack by suspected herdsmen on Oganenigwu was higher than what was reported by the newspapers.
According to a source in the Oganenigwu Community Development Association, over 200 people in the community had been displaced.
The source added that over 50 houses were burnt down by the suspected Fulani herdsmen while people living in villages in and around Oganenigwu had deserted their homes and relocated to places like Anyigba, Ologba, Etulutekpe and Iyale.
“At the moment, nobody can say the exact number of people that have been killed because many families have yet to locate their relatives,” the source said.
The source also disclosed that the presence of the security agents drafted to the trouble areas had yet to put a stop to the crisis.
An eyewitness, who is the principal of Community Secondary School, Oganenigwu, Mr. Ojodale Philip, said, “My school was attacked by Fulani terrorists at about 8:30 am but I thank God that no life was lost in my school, but many people were massacred in the village.
“I was shot at several times but the bullets did not hit me. I have some of the bullets that were meant to kill me in my hands.”
However, the Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, who was expected to visit the affected communities on Friday had not made it there as of the time of filing this report as he had yet to arrive in the state from Abuja.
However, a statement by the Director-General, Media and Publicity to the Governor, Kingsley Fanwo, said the governor was shocked by the attack.
The statement said, “The Kogi State government ensured that the military, the police and other relevant security agencies, including members of the Kogi State Vigilante Services were immediately mobilised to the affected areas following the initial reports.
“The incident remains under investigation while efforts are ongoing to apprehend the attackers and bring them to justice.”
But the state’s chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party has blamed the attacks on the governor’s decision to open the state to Fulani herdsmen.
The party said the governor’s open invitation to herdsmen and his plan to set up cattle colonies without putting adequate security measures in place, had necessitated the killings.
Adeboye visits Benue, condemns herdsmen killings
The General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, on Friday expressed displeasure with the killing of children, women and others by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Benue State and some other parts of the country during a visit to the state.
Adeboye, who was in Benue in company with his wife to condole with Governor Samuel Ortom, called for the end to the killings and prayed for the government and residents of the state.
The cleric said he chose not to visit the state much earlier and before the President’s visit so that politicians would not read meanings into his visit.
He described Benue as dear to his heart, saying he felt the pains of the people and wept when he saw them weeping.
“Of course, no man of God will see a mass burial anywhere and not feel the pains of the people affected.
“We want these killings to stop. Happily, we know someone who can stop it. He is the Almighty God, He does not fail or compromise, He is the God of all. We will continue to call on Him to fight this battle and you can be assured that victory will be certain.”
Earlier, Ortom had lamented that the incursions of herdsmen into the state, apart from leading to the deaths of many, had created a huge humanitarian crisis. He appealed to the church to sustain prayers for the government and the people of the state given the enormous challenge the crisis posed to the well-being of the people of the state.
Catholic Assembly supports anti-open grazing laws, ranching
Adeboye’s comment coincided with that of the General Assembly of the Catholic Diocese of Jalingo, which called on the Federal Government to do more to bring the protracted herdsmen and farmers’ clashes to an end.
The Catholic Diocese had made the call in a communiqué issued at the end of its 18th General Assembly held at St. Charles Borromeo Pastoral Centre, Jalingo, and signed by the Bishop of the Diocese, The Most Reverend Charles Hammawa, and Chancellor, Very Reverend Fr. Anthony Nzinang, in which it condemned the level of insecurity in the country.
It also said that it was in support of ranching and the proposition of anti-open grazing laws by states.
The communiqué read, “In recent times, issues of security have become a matter of concern to all Nigerians. We wish to state that Christians like other citizens have the constitutional right to protection of life and property.
“The government of the day must do more to bring the protracted herdsmen and farmers’ clashes, as well as other security challenges facing the nation, to an end.
“We agree with those proposing anti-open grazing and ranches’ establishment law as the best solution to ending the crisis.
“As a church, we believe that dialogue remains the ultimate solution to any form of conflict, so we implore authorities to use it for our common good. Let us stop killing and betraying one another.
“On our part, while we continuously pray for God’s intervention on the issue, we urge all Nigerians to be security conscious and cooperate with security agencies and our security personnel too must be proactive in responding to distress calls.”
The General Assembly appealed to politicians to avoid making statements that could incite violence and heat up the polity.
It also called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to create more registration centres and deploy effective and efficient machines to ease long queues at such centres.