President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent order to the security agencies to arrest and prosecute suspected killer herdsmen and other criminals found with illegal arms and ammunition came rather late, but it is better late than never. The president, who gave the marching order during his one-day official visit to Nasarawa State, warned that his administration would not tolerate further attacks by killer herdsmen and other criminals. He condoled with the victims of the recent massacres in the North-Central zone and assured the people that the government was working hard to ensure peace and stability across the country.
This presidential directive ought to have been given long ago, considering that many lives have been lost and much property destroyed by herdsmen in different parts of the country, especially the North-Central areas. It is worth reminding the government that its primary duty is to protect life and property of the citizens. Yet, all the laws relating to extra-judicial killings were never enforced against the herdsmen to check the killings. We condemn the unnecessary politicization of the herdsmen menace and call on all stakeholders to join forces to end the needless cycle of bloodletting in the country.
The government has largely failed to perform its primary duty of protecting the farming communities in the affected areas. Now that the government has finally woken up to its responsibility and issued this order, the police should hit the ground running and arrest all the killer herdsmen, whether local or foreign. All the other security agencies should assist the police to contain the killings.
If taken seriously, this directive should signal the end of gun-totting herdsmen. The police should truly apprehend and prosecute them. The herdsmen menace has continued unabated due to official inaction and the failure of security agencies to act swiftly to arrest the situation. The police authorities did not need to wait for a presidential order before arresting the herdsmen perpetrating mayhem in different parts of the country.
The duty of the police is essentially to keep law and order in the country. This involves the prevention of crimes and the arrest as well as prosecution of criminals. Herdsmen are not an exemption in this regard. On this herdsmen affair, the police have generally not lived up to public expectation in the discharge of their duties. It appears they look the other way when herdsmen go on their murderous rampages. We also decry the partisan utterances of the leaderships of some of our security agencies on the Benue killings. The security agencies must be apolitical to properly perform their functions.
This regime of inaction and nonchalance in the face of mounting insecurity is unacceptable. The police must rise to the challenge and restore public confidence in their capability to keep law and order in the society. Arresting and prosecuting the herdsmen will largely curb the menace. The police must demonstrate that nobody is, indeed, above the laws of the land by heeding this important presidential order. It is regrettable that Nigeria has witnessed unprecedented bloodbaths perpetrated by herdsmen in recent times. This is the time to stop such barbaric attacks. The Federal Government should give accent to the setting up of state police because the current centralised policing system makes it difficult for state governments to protect their citizens in the face of the seeming inertia of the Nigeria Police.
All cattle farmers must be encouraged and assisted to set up ranches in parts of the country that they can procure land for such. Ranching is the best way to rear cattle. Nomadic cattle rearing is no longer in vogue in any part of the developed world and should be discarded forthwith.