By Stephen Ubanna
When President Muhammadu Buhari, assumed office as an elected President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29, 2015, he came with a bang: to stop the killings in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states in north east geo-political region as a result of the activities the Islamic Fundamentalists, Boko Haram insurgents .
President Buhari had rejig the security apparatus of the country by appointing Mohammed Babagana Mongono, a rtd Major General, from Borno, National Security Adviser, NSA,, Mamman Lawal Daura, from Daura town, buari’s home town, in Katsina state, Director General, Department of State Security, DSS, Ibrahim Idris, from Niger state, home state of former Military President, Ibrahim Babangida as the Inspector General of Police, IGP, and Tukur Buratai, another indigene of Borno state as Chief of Army Staff.
He was said to have also replaced the Heads of the Directorate of Intelligence Agency, DIA, and other Security agencies to give a bite in the fight against the security problem in the country. This is because of his earlier Campaign promises to solve the security problem which had given birth to the monster called Boko Haram, an Islamic fundamentalist group in the north east go-political region.
But unknown to him, there was a more deadly killer squad, the fulani herdsmen, from Republic of Niger and Chad who had joined their local kinsmen to traverse the nooks and crannies of the Country with sophisticated weapons in the bush in the guise of guiding their cattle without military or police intervention to disarm them. The fallout was the repeated killings of helpless unarmed farmers found on their route.
The killing became worse over the last two years in Plateau, Benue, Niger, Zamfara, in north central geo-political region, and Taraba in the north east, thus making nonsense of the Buhari tight security network, thus discouraging foreign Invests from coming to Nigeria to invest.
Bob Mustapha, a former Managing Director of Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, and now Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, took advantage of the recent Federal and states Security Administrators meeting in Katsina , the President’s home state to open upon the alleged number of lives lost due to the frequent clash between herdsmen and farmers this year alone.
He revealed that 270 people had been killed had in these volatile states in the north this year alone , which many described as far cry from the figure that had been computed by the respective state governments.
Mustapha, who was said to have been represented by Sulaiman Dahiru, a permanent Secretary in his office, confirmed that the killings was recorded in 30 incidences.
The Security Chieftains may have been encouraged to hold parley because of the directive given to them to find out a lasting solution to the problem of repeated clashes between herdsmen and farmers which resulted in the death of thousands of farmers and other innocent citizens over the years in Benue, Plateu,Adamawa, Taraba, Nasarawa, Niger, Kaduna and Zamfara states.
The killings may have become worse in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba, because of the allegations, that security operatives including the army are giveing the herdsmen the much needed support to operate in these states.
lambasted the Mustapha, the SGF, for reeling a wrong figure of deaths linked the new Killer Squad, fulani herdsmen as people are being killed weekly in Benue and Traraba states alone. The security expert disclosed that the death alone that had been linked to the herdsmen in Benue and Taraba alone between January and now are over a thousand people, nothing that many of these deaths had not been captured because of the difficulty in accessing some of these farmers Communities .
THe alluded to the remarks by Theophilus Danjuma, a rtd Lt. General and a former Chief of Army Staff who was later appointed ,Minister of Defense by former President Olusegun Obasanjo who had passed a vote of no confidence on the Army over their inability to protect lives and property in the country because of the killings by the herdsmen in Taraba, his home state. The revered retired Army General may have vent his anger on the Army because it was the same institution he had controlled and supervised for years which had won laurels for the country both locally and overseas. He believes the Army could no longer bite because they have lost the fire power thus, giving him the courage to dare Buhari and his security agencies by asking the farmers to defend themselves as the Army and the police could no longer guarantee their safety.
He averred that the retired Army General could not have spoken his mind if he did not have his facts right. The remarks by Danjuma, may have rattled President Buhari that he has continued to thinker with several options of handling the herdsmen killer squad. He had blamed late Libyan President, Mummar Quadafi, of ashaving trained and armed the herdsmen to kill, which analysts describe an escapist route to cover the government failure to deal with the situation at hand.
The wide condemnation of the herdsmen killings in different parts of the country and the failure of the government deal decisively with the situation ahead of the 2019 polls in the country appears to be giving himmuch troubles .
He has not forgotten to tell any foreign political leader he had come in contact with in the recent time including Theresa May, the British Prime Minister over his” worries about the state of Nigeria security than the 2019 election which he had shown his interest to re-contest on the platform of the All Progressive Congress, APC”.
The bilateral talks with the British Prime Minister, may have provided himan ample opportunity to seek the Prime Minister’s support in the areas of military training, intelligence gathering and supply of military equipment to face headlong the security challenge in the country that had been made worse by the fulani herdsmen , regarde in both official and unofficial quarters as the new killer squuad.
There is no gain saying the fact that the Boko Haram fighters may have infiltrated the ranks of the herdsmen because of the expertise in handling weapons to kill in the central states of Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa, Adamawa and Taraba, in order to turn their farm lands as their own grazing field by use of force .
The President who visited had Taraba state recently over the killings in the state linked to the herdsmen had said in Jalingo, the stateCapital that ”all the perpetrators of violence in the country would be investigated and prosecuted ”, but no herdsman or their sponsors had been arrested to face the full wrath of the law., an indication that it is still killing as usual.
Notwithstanding the killings by herdsmen, in different parts of the country, the President still maintains that his administration has done well in improving the security situation of the country right from the Boko Haram attacks. He said the economy may be suffering because of the fear in the mind of both local and foreign investors that security had broken down in the country. ”The country had to be secured before you can manage the economy”, he had said.
Femi Adesina, a senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, had said in a statement that Buhari is determined to turn around the Nigeria battered economy as he woo foreign investor s to advantage of the country’s improved security situation and favourable economic policies to invest in the country. Indeed, at a close door meeting with May, the British Prime Minister recently in London, Adesina had said in the statement that Buhari had called for more British Companies investment in Nigeria .
He was said to have told May to allow more British Companies to come to Nigeria, citing Unilever and Cadbury,two British firms which have stood with Nigeria through thick and thin, even when the country fought a civil war but never relocated with their technology to another country.
bu one area which the President believes the British firms could easily invest for now is Agriculture. He was said to have briefed May on the giant strides the country has made through massive investment on the sector, stressing that rice imports had been reduced by 90 percent , a ”situation, he said had” put Nigeria on the path of food self-suffiency ”, thus saving the much need foreign exchange for the country to execute his electioneering Campaigns.
But Rice Importers who may still claim to have letters of Credit, LC, allegedly issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria , CBN, may not right as they may be among the group of rice importers described as being involved recycling documents. This is because of the difficulty in differentiating a dully issued LC because of the use of general stamps in all the rice import documents.
Indeed, the government fiscal policy measures banning the importation of foreign parboiled rice into the country through the land borders may have forced many of the local rice importers to relocate to Cotonou port in Republic of Benin and other ports in the West African sub-region which still found their way into the Nigeria market through unapproved routes . The seizure of trucks load of rice in Oyo and Ogun states alone, by officers of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, and thousands of bags of rice a intercepted in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo and Osun by the Headquarters Zonal Strike force in Lagos speaks volume. This is an indication that the rice importers are still very desperate to retain their share of the Nigeria market.
Worried that foreign rice are still been smuggled into the country, the President may have givena verbal directive to Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and Comptroller General, NCS, to do everything within his powers to stop the rice smugglers to protect the local rice farmers.
The Customs boss was said to be tinkering with the option of given the nod to Muhammed Uba Garba, Comptroller, FOU, Zone A, and his counterpart at Seme Command, Muhammed Aliyu to extend their operations Ogun, Oyo/Osun, Niger and Kwara states.
The duo may be warming up for the task ahead because of the porous nature of the border Communities between Nigeria and Republic of Benin in these states which had proved very difficult for the resident officers to effectively patrol.
Only recently, officers from the FOU, Zone A, Command intercepted three Toyota Prado jeeps bought by the Oyo state government which was driven into the Country through the idiroko land border with the Oyo state government House escort vehicle following behind to Forrestal any attempt by Customs personnel to stop them on the road to ask for Customs documents .
The business may have turned awry as the vehicles were detained on the orders of Muhammed, the Comptroller at the ikeja office of the Command. This is an indication that Nigerians and government officials are still patronizing smuggled goods including vehicles.