Buhari's inaction fuels Fulani herdsmen attacks – Soyinka …South-East senators warn of imminent danger

By The Citizen

Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, has attributed the unrelenting violence being perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen to the refusal of the Federal Government to arrest and punish the herders for the serial killings across the country.

The renowned playwright described as a promotion of 'undisputed impunity' the failure of the government to offer 'legal, logical and moral response' to the spate of killings by the cattle rearers.

In his speech tilted, 'The Killing Culture of the Neo-Nomadic', which was presented at the National Conference on Culture and Tourism in Abuja on Thursday, Soyinka stated that it was shocking that the government had yet to make a terse statement against the killings done by the herdsmen.

Admitting that Boko Haram insurgents might no longer be as potent as the militants used to be, Soyinka argued that the terrorists already had worthy successors in the herdsmen, whom he alleged recently 'invaded' his country home in Abeokuta while he was away.

He said, 'It is not merely arbitrary violence that reigns across the nation but total, undisputed impunity. Impunity evolves and becomes integrated in conduct when crime occurs and no legal, logical and moral response is offered.

'I have yet to hear this government articulate a firm policy of non-tolerance for the serial massacres that have become the nation's identification stamp.  I have not heard an order given that any cattle herders caught with sophisticated firearms be instantly disarmed, arrested, placed on trial, and his cattle confiscated.

'Recently, however, I returned from a trip outside the country about to find that my home ground had been invaded, and a brand-new, Appian way sliced through my sanctuary. That motorable path was made by the hoofed invaders. Both the improvised entry and exit are now blocked, but interested journalists are invited to visit.'

Soyinka added, 'In over two decades of living in that ecological preserve, no such intrusion had ever occurred. I have no idea whether they were Fulani or Futa Jalon herdsmen but, they were cattle herders, and they had cut a crude swathe through my private grounds.

'I made enquiries and sent alerts around, including through the Baale (community head) of our neighbourhood village. There has been no repeat, and hopefully it will remain the first and last of such invasion. What it portends however is for all thinking citizens to reflect upon, and take concerted measures against.'

Soyinka condemned the promise of President Muhammadu Buhari to end farmers-herdsmen clashes and arbitrary ranching across the country in 18 months, saying this was tantamount to appealing to the violent herders.

The playwright added, 'The nation is treated to an 18-month optimistic plan which, to make matters worse, smacks of abject appeasement and encouragement of violence on innocents. Let me repeat, and of course I only ask to be corrected if wrong: I have yet to encounter a terse, rigorous, soldierly and uncompromising language from this leadership, one that threatens a response to this unconscionable bloodletting that would make even Boko Haram repudiate its founding clerics.'

Meanwhile, the South-East Senate Caucus on Thursday warned of imminent danger and possible threat to the unity of Nigeria if the Federal Government failed to urgently address the Enugu massacre carried out by Fulani herdsmen.

The Igbo senators stated this in a statement by the member, representing Abia South in the upper chamber, Enyinaya Abaribe, at the end of their emergency meeting held in Abuja.

They did not only condemn the attack, which left over 50 persons dead and scores driven out of their homes, but also called for a summit of the South-East and South-South states on the issue.

They said governors, members of the National and state Houses of Assembly, socio-cultural associations, traditional rulers and major stakeholders should mandatorily be part of the proposed meeting.

According to the lawmakers, the emergency summit will review and evaluate the very scary situation and proffer a coordinated response that will ensure the security of lives and property of their people.

The caucus added, 'We can no longer sit and watch while our people are daily slaughtered like fowls without even attracting the cursory routine condemnation by the Presidency.

'We are even more appalled that despite the alarm raised by the Ukpabi Nimbo community of an imminent attack by the Fulani herdsmen and the associated vague assurances by the chairman of Fulani community in Enugu that such attack would not happen, yet the security agencies failed to prevent the attack that happened two days after the alarm.

'It is disheartening what is happening, and somebody has to take responsibility. That somebody has to be the institution of the Presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.'

Also, the Senate on Thursday set up an ad hoc committee to conduct comprehensive investigations into the attacks in Nimbo community and recommend ways of curtailing future attacks across the country.

This followed the adoption of a motion by Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu North) at the plenary presided over by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who is also from Enugu State.

The senators, at the end of the debate, which lasted for about one hour and 30 minutes, also summoned the Service Chiefs to appear before them and brief them in a closed-door session.

They also urged the Nigeria Police Force to introduce stop-and-search of the herdsmen moving in the bush or on the main roads to detect those who could be carrying arms. - Punch.