The House of Representatives on Tuesday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to “urgently” set up a presidential task force with the mandate to disarm all herdsmen in the country.
Lawmakers cited Benue State as a case which needed immediate attention, following the resurgence of killings by herdsmen in the state.
The House, at the session presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Yussuff Lasun, recalled the renewed attacks in Buruku Federal Constituency of Benue State, where “20 villagers” were massacred last week by the herdsmen.
Buruku, like Agatu and other local governments in Benue, are predominantly agrarian communities, whose farmlands are under constant destruction by invading herdsmen.
In 2016, up to 7,000 villagers were sacked in Agatu alone, while many others were killed after herdsmen invaded the villages.
On Tuesday, the House noted that Buhari should take the decisive step of setting up a presidential task force to primarily disarm herdsmen in Benue and other parts of the country.
The House resolution was passed after the Chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business, Mr. Orker Jev, and 10 other lawmakers moved a motion demanding the disarmament of herdsmen.
The 10 others were the Chairman, House Committee on Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Herman Hembe; Chairman, Committee on Air Force, Mr. Samson Okwu; Mr. Emmanuel Udende, Mr. John Dyegh, Mr. Hassan Saleh, Mr. Adamu Entonu, Mr. Ezekiel Adaji, Mr. Dickson Tarkighir, Mr. Benjamin Wayo and Mr. Terseer Mark-Gbillah.
Members recalled that as recently as March 9 to March 11, there was “massive and violent invasion” of communities in Buruku by herdsmen, which left 20 people dead.
The House resolution, in addition, directed the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, to investigate the latest attacks and bring the culprits to justice.
The House resolution partly read, “The House is disturbed that on Saturday ,11 March, 2017, the marauding herdsmen started indiscriminate attacks and killings of anybody they encountered around the communities of Ber Awuna, Dogo, Ortese – Mbashian, Tse Igyu, Tse Gebe, Anbighir, Tse Iwa, Gbaikyo, Agudu, Nyorum, Shonto and Abuku in three major kindreds of Mbade, Mbagoho, Mbashian, Mbaboor and Wuav.
“Also disturbed that these violent attacks continued unabated without any intervention from any security agency throughout that Saturday and 20 people were reported killed by these armed herdsmen, out of which 10 bodies have so far been recovered and deposited at the local government headquarter.
“…Cognisant of the constitutional responsibility of the government to provide security for all citizens and maintain law and order in all parts of the federation, the House resolves to call on the President and Commander -in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to urgently institute a Presidential Task Force to disarm all herdsmen in Buruku Federal Constituency, other parts of Benue State and throughout the Federal republic of Nigeria.”
Emotion rose as members passionately debated the motion.
For Example, Jev argued that there appeared to be an agenda to weaken the economic well-being of the north-central states so that the herdsmen could overrun the entire Nigeria.
He noted that the excuse of branding the attackers as “foreigners” was not tenable as it presented Nigeria a country without the might to protect its citizens.
Calling the herdsmen “terrorists,” Mark-Gbillah blamed the growing confidence of the attackers on the failure of the Nigerian military to defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
On his part, Hembe asked whether the Nigerian government was indirectly encouraging communities to import arms and defend themselves since they could no longer count on security agencies to safeguard their lives and property.
Tarkighir, a co-sponsor of the motion, said the most annoying development was that no individual had been successfully punished for the killings by herdsmen.
One member from Kano State, Mr. Baballe Bashir, identified the cause of the problem as “systemic failure” by those in authorities to address previous violent attacks and killings by the same herdsmen.
He observed that Nigerians were quick to assume that the Fulani were the cause, forgetting that the same marauding herdsmen had killed Fulani farmers in the North-West for many years.