Who Is Arming Cattle Herdsmen in Nigeria?

On the first day in 2018, Fulani herdsmen attacked a village in Benue State of Nigeria and left nearly one hundred people dead. All the victims were slaughtered, most of them in their sleep, by the herdsmen. Yesterday they were buried in mass graves, a shocking ceremony for an already traumatised country. Now here is the truly unfortunate thing about this development- the likelihood that there may never be justice for the victims. 

The killings on January 1st by cattle the herdsmen in Benue state was not the first of such attacks. As a matter of fact, Fulani herdsmen are notorious for transversing the length and width of this country, killing anyone who dares to challenge their livestock’s indiscriminate grazing. Without intentionally being pessimistic, I envisage a reoccurence of this type of attack in a few months’ time. We will soon forget the people slaughtered in their sleep, only to be reminded about them by the deaths that will happen again no thanks to the wickedness of these herdsmen. That is how complacent we have become with this type of thing; unfortunately. 

I have questions, answers to which I might never get. But why hasn’t anything been done to stop this constant violence unleashed by these cattle rearers on innocent Nigerians? Why has successive governments (and particularly the current one)  been so silent and lackadaisical at addressing the problem? Why is it okay to remain incentive and do nothing when whole villages get sacked and many people (including pregnant women) get slaughtered? Why does this repeatedly happen just so that animals can graze?  Are those cows more precious than the  human lives that have been wasted and still stand t he risk of being wasted?  This can never be right! 

Come to think of it, Who is arming cattle herdsmen in Nigeria? These people use sophisticated assault weapons, often times more sophisticated than what our police men have. Little wonder they can easily attack and kill even the police officers sent to protect lives in the volatile regions. Their ownership of these weapons therefore begs the question as to how they got to acquire them. Is the government aware of their ownership of these weapons? Are they licensed to carry these weapons? And even if they are licensed to carry the weapons, are they also licensed to kill innocent Nigerians with them? 

There is public outrage as to why President Muhammadu Buhari has failed to condemn this recent attack. Perhaps the reason is because he himself is Fulani. He is probably just conflicted, or simply complicit in the attacks. I mean it is a daisy situation and I understand it; most Nigerians do not have the heart to condemn their relatives when said relatives are wrong. Yet, we can all agree that the wrong wrought by the herdsmen happened on such a large scale, so much so it has attracted global condemnation. Amnesty International recently issued a statement condemning the attack. And I’ve just learnt that the United Nations has categorised herdsmen attackers in Nigeria as terrorists. Yet, with the Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria’s Armed Forces decidedly silent on this…it surely raises eyebrows. 

There are a list of things that Nigeria can do to curb the recurrent cases of herdsmen attacks in Nigerian villages. First of all, the man occupying the highest office in the land must speak out and condemn the attacks. He should speak truth to his tribesmen and let them know that what they are doing is wrong. He needs to do because [un]known to him, his silence empowers the terrorists. Therefore, he must call them out, and demand that they desist from their crimes. Secondly, indiscriminate grazing must be made illegal in the country. Thirdly, this is the right time to make use of our military men and women. They should go to Benue and restore law and order. Also, our policymakers must work round the clock to come up with insightful policies aimed addressing the issue. And lastly, Nigerians should consider boycotting the meat industry as a way of protesting these killings. I believe that if nobody buys meat product in Nigeria for at least a week, they will feel the impact and understand the agitation. 

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