Armed Herdsmen Attacks And Neglect Of Rural Populace
The incessant attacks by armed herdsmen have continued unabated, inflicting acute pain on the citizenry in several agrarian communities. SOLOMON AYADO writes
“Our house was burnt by armed Fulani herdsmen who invaded our community in the night. They burnt houses and killed people mercilessly. Some of us had managed to escape and since the incident happened, we have not been to our village. The herdsmen have occupied the place and even when our family members die, we are not able to convey their corpses to our ancestral homes for burial.”
These were the words of Tar Taver, a victim of Moon village, an agrarian community at the border area of Taraba and Benue states where the herdsmen have totally sieged the entire council ward. In fact, occupants of this community who were displaced are obviously yet to come to terms with the bizarre.
“It is sad that we can no longer go to our farms because they are completely occupied by the herdsmen. Our houses which we left have become homes of the herdsmen.They live comfortably with their wives and herds of cattle. It is not funny for someone to be displaced. Life is frustrating, meaningless and nothing seems to be moving well hence we lack food, even as we are completely prevented from our normal ways of life.”
With incessant attacks that ravaged the agrarian communities especially in the North Central states, it seems the security situation in the country is dampening and relevant security agencies are seemingly unable to put in place urgent measures to quickly contain it.
Except to anyone who is yet to experience the deadly herdsmen attack, the misery would be taken for a joke. But for someone whose community is invaded by armed bandits, without any envisage, may suggest the less in the intensity of the general national security. It is disheartening that the ancestral home of a people is suddenly converted into nested bowls of insurgents who kill, burn houses and rape women at will.
Ofcourse, the responsibility of every government is to effectively ensure security of lives and property of it’s citizens. This is equally why the government subvent huge sums of money to heads of government to enhance the implementation of proactive measures to protect lives and property of the citizenry.
Generally, insecurity is a major challenge in Nigeria and globally but most of the citizens who spoke to LEADERSHIP said the situation is worsening in the country. According to them, it seems the government is facing the other way especially in the aspect of tackling the dastardly activities of armed herdsmen. They said people are being killed anyhow and there is urgent need for government to intensify effort to avert and eradicate the attacks.
This posit, they noted has meted untold hardship. It has further influenced the lack of food which has necessitated imminent hunger in the country. Also, many persons have ascribed the incessant herdsmen attacks to a disguised measure to depopulate a people. Otherwise, they argued that the human life is so valuable for any sane mind to waste without any cogent reason.
Some of the victims who spoke to LEADERSHIP in Plateau, Nassarawa, Taraba and Benue states maintained that the surging herdsmen attacks must be urgently curtailed by government in order to foster peace and rapid development. According to them, there will be no meaningful development where there is acrimony and that peace will not strive where animosity has taken the centre stage.
Narrating their ordeals, the victims said they will not forget in a hurry the travails and sufferings that inflict them.
“Imagine that you were deeply asleep and the herdsmen invade your community in the middle of the night, killing and burning houses. No one had premonition that the bandits would attack. We were not prepared. To that extent, nobody was able to escape with any property. We lost every thing including our academic credentials and food.
The disappointment is that the government is ineptitude. Top government officials will usually visit the IDPs and make unfulfilling promises. Many of them divert government funds meant to cater for displaced persons to upgrade their private businesses. On the side of our security agencies, the security agents are not always proactive. They arrive the scene only when the herdsmen must have carried out the attacks and retreat. The security men would quickly, and only make themselves present as soon as the situation is no longer reverberating,” one of the victims stated.
The same story was shared by Mr. John Ikulono who was met in Abuja. He said the people of his community will not forget in a hurry the massacre and massive destruction of homes when the herdsmen invaded his village in Okokolo in Agatu. According to him, more security presence has to be established in the attacked communities especially in the rural areas.
“The rural dwellers are the most affected because that is where the herdsmen find access routes to the urban centres. There is need for military presence in all the affected communities. The attacks are more occurring in the North Central states. Like in the North East, the security presence there have assisted greatly in the fight against heinous activities of the Boko Haram sect and this can be replicated in these areas where herdsmen attack,” he stated.
However, it was observed that the fight against herdsmen attacks require more than it is presently. The government must be proactive and refrain politicization of the matter. Also, analysts have posited that it is imperative for government to up finance and provide modern arms and ammunition to security personnel to appropriately tackle the security breaches. The need to desist from playing politics with the lives of the people, they say is very important.
For example, in Benue state, many pundits faulted a situation where trucks load of military personnel, armed with modern security equipments were drafted to Gbishe community in Katsina-Ala LGA of the state in search of a wanted militia leader popularly called Gana, who was accused of killing a security aide to Governor Samuel Ortom. The security agents had quickly pulled down the village, made several arrests and recovered catchment of arms. Till now, a military patrol team is stationed at the Gbishe community. But while the patrol last, herdsmen are not restraint from unleashing terror on other agrarian communities.
According to a security expert who spoke to LEADERSHIP on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the matter, said most of the heinous crimes are seemingly perpetrated with the assistance of security personnel hence their obvious inability to prevent the attacks. He further stated that government is ineptitude and appealed for proactive security measures to enhance the protection of the generality of the people.
“It is however, optimistic to adduce that most of these crimes are carried out with the help of some security agents. If not, how can a military battalion be situated in the state and several attacks would be happening, killings of innocent citizens would be incessantly unleashed without any security measure to arrest the culprits or prevent the attacks. It is unfortunate. It is high time our security agencies protect our communities and the government should stop playing politics with the welfare of the people” he said.
At the moment, the dastardly killings by herdsmen have continued to ravage the agrarian communities in the country without any satisfactory effort from government and relevant security agencies. Whether the heinous herdsmen attacks which have remained unabated is a total neglect to the rural dwellers, it is a fact that rapid development cannot strive in a state of deep-seated hostility