More Troubles For Armed Herdsmen

By Stephen Ubaana

When  Theophilus Danjuma, a retired Lt. General and a former Chief of Army Staff and minister of Defense , lampooned the  Army on March 24, 2018, of colluding with armed herdsmen to kill innocent citizens in parts of the country   he Amy did not find it funny.

in apparent response to the  General’s accusation, the Army  exonerated itself from blame over the herdsmen killings in parts of the country, stressing that ”it has  sacrificed much life in dealing with the situation while absolutely remaining neutral”.

Many beieves that  the former Chief of Army’s claim  may have struck the right chord in security circles as the security Chiefs went back to work  to bring the situation under control. The recent killings of scores of Worshippers and two priests  at a Catholic Church at Ukpor  village  in Gwer East Local government  Area of Benue state  may have  forced forced President Muhammadu Buhari to give a matching order to Abdulrahaman Dambazu,  and Brig. Mansur Dan Ali Ministers of Internal Affairs and Defense respectively , Tukur Buratai, Chief of Army  Staff, Ibrahim Idris, Inspector General of Police, IGPto crack down on the armed herdsmen causing the havoc in parts of the country.

 

Buratai: Chief of Army Staff

The Presidential directive to the security  Chiefs  to stop the killings may have given ammunition to  Mamman Lawal Daura and Mohammed Dauda,   Director Generals, Department of State Security,DSS, and Defense Intelligence Agency, DIA, an to step up their intelligence gathering with the Coordination of Mohammed Babagana Munguno, the National Security Adviser, the NSA.

With barely one moth that Danjuma, a former Chief of Army Staff lambasted the Army over the herdsmen killings and Buhari’s intervention to save the situation from degenerating, on Saturday, April, 28, 2018, there were screaming headlines in all the major  Newspapers in the  country, ” Troops arrest Boko Haram suspects  linked with the recent attacks and killings in Benue state”. The on-line media also feasted on the story .

Olabisi Ayeni, a Major and the Assistant Director, Army Public Relations officer said a combined team of the Army, police, and the DSS, had made the arrest of the Boko Haram  fighters  based on” credible intelligence   after a fierce fighting  in Guma  Local government area of the state”.

He disclosed  that the troops of the 707 Special Force who were on patrol of the Guma local government  on getting to the suspected militia Camp were sighted by the armed herdsmen who fired at the troops , forcing the soldiers to tep up their counter attack. The armed herdsmen were said to have been over powered by the superior fire power of the soldiers in the gun battle on Thursday, April 26, 2018 as they took to their heals leaving some of their weapons and  ammunitions including handsets.  Ayeni confirmed the arrest  of three  of the militia herdsmen  in their camp located near Tormatar village in Guma.

the soldiers may have been thrilled with the arrest of the notorious  Aminu Yaminu , alias  Tashaku, who  was their Commander. The Army Assistant Director, Public Relations,  said the captured armed herdsmen militia  was instrumental to  all the attacks and killings in Benue state.

The notorious Armed herdsmen  may have fallen into the waiting hands of the Army when information filtered  out that he has  concluded plans  with his  men in  Borno, Yobe and Nasarawa states  to launch another major attack in Benue state.  The information may have provided ammunition for  troops of the Special Forces 707 Brigade  and 72 Battalion based in Makurdi to prepare  to invade the milita camp.

The Army spokesman also confirmed the arrest of three other members of the herdsmen militia. They are  Abubakar Umaru, Adam Likita and Yusufu  Alhaji Yaro.  The arrest of the four principal armed herdsmen in the camp may have put them  in disarray as they could no longer  come together to plan to launch attacks on innocent citizens.

Prior to the raid on the militia camp in Benue state, Ayeni, a Major, disclosed  that on Wednesday, April  25, 2018,one AK.47 rifles and five rounds of  7.6mm special ammunition were recovered in the bush by troops of the 707 Brigade  who were patrolling the general area  of Naku village in the volatile  Gwer West Local government area of the state .

The  arrest of the four armed militia herdsmen  who were linked to Boko Haram fighters in the north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states confirms people’s fear that the  suspected herdsmen killers in Benue, Plateau Adamawa, Niger, Nasarawa and Zanfara, were Boko Haram fighters masquerading as Herdsmen .

An elated  Suleiman Mohammed, a Lt.Colonel and Commandant of 72 Battalion,  Makurdi, was said to have  t paraded the arrested  armed herdsmen on Saturday, April 27, 2018, in Guma Local government Area of the state . The Commandant was also said to have showcased the  AK47, ammunitions, charms and handsets ” recovered from the bush and the militia  Camp.

Umaru and Yusuf, the two armed herdsmen who are still in the Army custody were said to have volunteered informations  on interrogation that they usually hold their meetings near a river under a mango tree in Awe Local government Area of Nasarawa state to decide on where to launch their  attacks.

A security analysts told the Magazine  that the Security Chiefs may have taken the battle to the armed  the herdsmen militia Camp in Benue state  to pre-empt the mass protest planned  by members of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, slated on Sunday, April, 29, 2018.  The planned protest by CAN could have been a big embarrassment  to the All Progressive Congress , APC, led government  of Buhari as the International were waiting to see how he would handle the crisis.

 

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo: Vice President

The  analysts disclosed that  the Army raid on the armed  herdsmen militia Camp, clearly confirms what Danjuma, a former Chief of Army Staff said  that  the Army were colluding with the armed herdsmen to kill innocent citizens. This is  because of the speed in which they raided the militia Camp within hours of a Presidential directive  to the security Chiefs on Thursday, April26, 2018, to stop the killings in parts of the country, fueling speculation that the soldiers knew such a Camp exists in Benue state.  there are fears in both official and unofficial circles that there may be other armed herdsmen  militia Camps in Nasarawa and Taraba states.

Worried by the public outcry of people  over the killings in Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba, Adamawa and Zamfara by alleged armed herdsmen, Buhari had inaugurated a three-man Sub- Committee  to unravel the causes of  the incessant clashes  between herdsmen and farmers and make recommendation on a way out of the crisis.  on February 2018. The Sub-Committee was headed by  Dave Umahi, an opposition  Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governor of Eboyi state.

The Umahi Committee  was said to have submitted its report to the government which was received by Yemi Osibanjo, the Vice President on last Wednesday. Snippets  of the report shows that there were three main categories of herdsmen criscrossing the country with their cattles , thus stepping the toe of farmers with the destruction of their crops.

According to the Committee,  they are the nomadic herdsmen,  foreign herdsmen and  migrant herdsmen. The  Committee members, who were said to have visited the flash point states confirmed that the continued activities of the armed herdsmen in the agrarian dominated Communities in these states was responsible for the  for the frequent clashes with the farmers.

The Committee   attributed the major causes of the conflict  between the herdsmen and farmers a to perception and  escalation of reports on the killings in these flash point states linked to the armed herdsmen in the media and competition for scarce resources. This is in addition” armed banditry through cattle rustlings and kidnapping”,  the Committee remarked.

Osinbajo, however, believes  that the frequent clashes between the armed  herdsman and farmers in the flash point states was as a  result of  the proliferation of weapons in the country and the nation’s porous borders as criminal network took advantage of it to kill innocent citizens.

The Vice President  was said to have told the gathering of the ministers of security  and Agriculture/Natural Resources in Abuja recently that Nigeria intends to”  follow the regional Cooperation  model as applied to the threat posed by Boko Haram insurgents in the north in tackling the  security threat posed by the escalating violence between herdsmen and farmers”.

Perhaps, to put an to the escalating tension, he was said to have  called for a regional Cooperation, proper border management, Law Enforcement and identity management in the West African sub-region.

Jean Claude Kassi Brou, President, Economic Community of West Africa States,  ECOWAS,  Commission, who was said to have shared the same views with Osibanjo, the Nigeria Vice President,  regretted  that ”deaths  and displacement  of persons  and the needless conflicts remain a major headache in the region in recent years  which had resulted in” stigmatization of ethno-linguistic and cultural groups”.

In spite of the fact that Buhari has risen up to the challenge to face the herdsmen issue squarely, he may have played into the hands of the opposition PDP  and other critics for failing  to show up at the last FEC meeting  to receive the Umahi  Sub- Committee report forcing people to doubt every of his genuine moves to  tackle the crisis.

The Committee had recommended a ”ban on open grazing across the country” and the establishment of ”ranches in the states affected by herdsmen onslaught ‘, which was endorsed by the Council’. The question on the lips of most people is: Will Buhari go along with the decision of the Council to adopt the recommendation of the Umahi Sub -Committee report on herdsmen and farmers  incessant clashes? There are fears in both official and unofficial quarters that the report may gather  dust  in the Presidency like other good reports that had been prepared and presented to the government which had not seen the light of the day  as he may not muster  the political muscle to act on it.

 

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