On killings in the Middle Belt

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How Nigerian army, police watch as killings worsen in Benue, others
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How Nigerian army, police watch as killings worsen in Benue, others
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In obvious frustration arising from its inability to put a halt to acts of genocide perpetrated by herdsmen in the Middle Belt, the Presidency has alleged that politicians are behind the wanton killings.

Although no proof was tendered to support the allegation, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu, asserted that the killings were politically motivated. This allegation is simply a political statement, not meant to be taken seriously.

The question is: who are the politicians in Nigeria? Are they not the ones in power or in the opposition?

Are they ghosts that the security services cannot fish out? The President and his team are all politicians and no doubt they are toying with the lives of the people who elected them into office.

Although killings have occurred across the country, the Middle Belt for some unfathomable reasons, has suffered the fiercest attacks. What is going on?

The President whom Section 130 (2) of the 1999 Constitution refers to as ‘the Chief Executive of the Federation and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces’ has no reason to wring his hands in frustration.

The buck stops at his desk. So the nation holds him accountable.

It is appalling that he has not been able to discipline the Inspector General of Police who disobeyed his order to relocate to Benue State after the January killings.

The inter-agency rivalry among the security agencies – the DSS, Nigeria Police, NIA and EFCC - is disgraceful and has become tragic. If they did their work in a coordinated manner, some of the killings would be prevented.

Reports have it that they conceal information from one another. By this they endanger the corporate existence of Nigeria.

The President has by and large been aloof from the senseless slaughter of citizens under his case. After the January attacks, he postponed a visit to the area till it became a national and international embarrassment for him. Indeed, the government has not been proactive.

The herdsmen attack helpless citizens with reckless abandon and criminal ease.

No less a person than a former Chief of Army Staff, retired General Theophilus Danjuma has had to cry out about the failure of the Nigeria Army to secure lives and property in the Middle Belt.

This is not the time for apportioning blame. It is time for action. First, while in the United Kingdom for a meeting of Heads of Government under the auspices of the Commonwealth, the President blamed late Muammar Gadhafi for training the fighters. Now the same government is blaming politicians.

Sadly, internal security is the constitutional duty of the Police. But this they have failed woefully to do. Nigeria has a national Police Force which lacks the will and manpower to effectively police the country.

The men are highly compromised, poorly trained and poorly motivated. They are expected to perform miracles with the poor equipment which they are given.

A sizeable number of them are attached to VIPs across the land, leaving the people exposed to terror and criminality. This is not the Nigeria envisaged when Nigerians trooped to the polling booths to elect Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.

Prevention of further attacks should be the overall concern of the government. One of the primary obligations of government to the people is security of life and property. In this, the government has failed the people.

Recently, there was another attack in Benue State where 17 lives were lost including the lives of two Catholic priests. Indeed two days after the killing of the 17, there was yet another attack in Benue State. Why has the government failed to prevent killings in Benue State?

If the killings are all in connection with 2019 elections, then Nigeria’s political leaders are no less than scoundrels. If the government’s incompetent and lackadaisical response is about 2019 elections then the government is criminally irresponsible. All lives are sacrosanct.

No life can be replaced; so no life should be left to the whims and caprices of demented terrorists and criminals masquerading as herdsmen.

Government’s negligence and apathy is promoting the narrative that the President is unable to act because he is sympathetic to the cause of the herdsmen.

This is sad and unfortunate. Mr. President should wake up from his slumber and take charge of the nation’s security.

The government should take security seriously. It must work out an overall strategy that will put a final full stop to the carnage in the country. No responsible government allows what is currently going on to happen.

It is a sign of woeful failure on the part of government. A re-structured Nigeria in which policing will be a local affair is an imperative in this country.

This is why the Federal Government should set in motion the process of restructuring Nigeria. The Federal Government is far too detached from the massacres in the Middle Belt.

There is no compassion. There is no involvement in the lives of the citizens who elected the President. The National Assembly members have made the right noises. They have even gone ahead to summon the President. But posturing will not solve the problem.

This is a golden opportunity for the National Assembly to trigger off the process of restructuring so that security of life and property would be vested in the constituent parts of the Federation.

Finally, the government is portraying itself in bad light. Pointing fingers at imaginary enemies is tantamount to failure and incompetence.

The inter-agency rivalry should stop forthwith. The Police should live up to its constitutional duties. And the President should stand up to defend all Nigerians.

In this article:
Garba ShehuMiddle Belt


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