There is rising tension and anxiety in Nigeria over the worsening security situation in the country.
Concerns have been raised by prominent Nigerians over the failure of the President Muhammad Buhari-led administration to curb the spate of killings by herdsmen, attacks by Boko Haram insurgents, banditry and kidnapping across the country.
However, in the heat of the calls for calm by affected persons and communities, the National Secretary of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore (MAKH), Alhaji Saleh Alhassan has urged herdsmen to defend themselves in any part of the county with any means possible.
This was in response to the call by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), directing Fulani herdsmen in the Southern part of the country to return home if their lives were not guaranteed.
“We are Nigerians and we have a history. Anybody that thinks he can wake up and take on the Fulani pastoralists is making a grievous mistake. We are well prepared to defend our fundamental human rights of movement in this country.
“They (herdsmen) are Nigerians, so they are entitled to stay where they are. They should remain where they are and defend themselves against ethnic militia and assert their citizenship in this country.
“The only thing we would say is that we will hold all the governors of those states responsible for their safety and security but if any ethnic militia, by any name, attacks our members, they should defend themselves in a manner that nobody would try such again,” Alhassan was reported to have said.
Reacting to MAKH’s position, tribal leaders in Benue State over the weekend described the call as reprehensible, saying it was an open declaration of war on their host communities.
The leaders, through their Chairman, Chief Ujege urged the Federal Government to treat the issue with all the seriousness and attention it deserved by inviting the leadership of MAKH for questioning.
Ujege said: “Rumours have it that they enjoy the support and get manpower from outside. So the call by their leadership is just a ploy to deceive the people and the world that they are the victims when they are actually the aggressors.
“This is actually a warning signal. This was how the Benue pogrom started and it entails that the government must act fast to reposition and overhaul the security apparatus in the country in case of any eventualities and also ensure it is proactive enough to protect the people.
“In the past, this same group issued several threats on Benue state claiming ownership of the Benue valley, after which attacks were launched on Benue communities leading to the death of thousands of innocent people.
”Unfortunately, we made several calls for the arrest of the leadership of MAKH but not one single person has been arrested till date despite all the bloodshed in Benue, it is sad.
“Well, this fresh threat is basically their own another way of calling for war because they are already prepared and are attacking, maybe they want to do it on a bigger scale now.”
In the same vein, a former governor of Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa and human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) on Sunday called on Nigerians to compel President Buhari to perform his constitutional duty of ensuring security in the country.
In a joint statement which they issued, the duo said the government in power has failed to tackle the worsening insecurity plaguing every part of the country, warning that the country could be turned into a killing field if the situation was not addressed.
The statement read in part: “Killings have become almost a daily affair in Nigeria. Terror attacks, banditry, kidnapping and armed robbery are perpetrated by criminals with reckless abandon.
“In practical terms, no part of Nigeria is immune to violent crimes , although the incidence might be relatively higher in one part than the other at this time. Tragic news of lives wasted issues from the north and south, east and west.”
“Amid the cacophony of ethnic and regional voices, it is imperative that pan-Nigerian voices should be heard louder than ever before to save Nigeria from disintegration.”
They criticized those they described as ethnic and regional champions who they said have resorted into the dangerous ethnic profiling and demonization of others.
“The appropriate response to these sectional voices is not to glibly question the patriotism of any person or group .
“The effective response is to compel the Nigerian state under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari to perform the constitutional duty of keeping Nigeria secure. Nigeria must not be turned into a killing field.
“The way to take the wind out of the sails of merchants of hate is for the government to confront the worsening insecurity in Nigeria squarely and honestly,” the statement added.
On Saturday, the Catholic Diocese of Enugu State confirmed that Fulani herdsmen attacked Rev. Fr. Ikechukwu Ilo, a priest in charge of St. Patrick Church at Numeh along Numeh- Nenwe road in Nkanu East Local Government Area of the state.
Father Ilo, who sustained gunshot shot wounds was reportedly attacked alongside one Mrs. Chika Egbo while he was driving to his parish for an appointment.
The Director of Communication, Catholic Diocese of Enugu, Rev. Fr. Benjamin Achi said the priest was accosted by two Fulani herdsmen carrying AK 47 rifles.
They reportedly ordered him to stop but when he refused , they opened fire on his vehicle.
Also on Saturday, four Turkish expatriates said to be working for a construction firm were over the weekend abducted by gunmen at a bar in Gbale village, Edu Local Government Area of Kwara State.
On Friday last week, the Nigerian Army confirmed the killing of a colonel, a captain and three other soldiers by gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram insurgents in Jakana area of Borno State.
A statement issued by the Deputy Director, Public Relations of Operation Lafiya Dole, Colonel Isa Ado said the incident occurred on Wednesday when the military personnel ran into an ambush by the insurgents while on transit from Maiduguri to Damaturu, the Yobe State capital.
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