With mindless terror attacks by deranged adherents of the Boko Haram Islamist sect reasonably under control, a feat that has earned Nigeria tremendous accolades, here comes a fresh security threat posed by amorphous killer herdsmen on a mission to wipe out innocent Nigerians across villages in some parts of the country, especially within the North Central region.
States like Benue, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Kogi and Plateau have had their fair share of murderous attacks perpetrated by bloodthirsty characters we often call herdsmen. These guys visit villages and leave sorrow, tears and blood as regular trademarks. Apologies to late Fela Anikulapo. Sadly, while these undesirable elements are becoming daring in their acts, we, including security agencies have become helpless.
This is certainly one ugly development that authorities cannot afford to gloss over. It is capable of reversing the modest achievements recorded in the security sub-sector in the last two years. The truth is, it appears relevant government establishments, especially security organizations lack the needed capacity to deal with these guys once and for all.
Last weekend’s midnight attack on the Plateau by suspected killer herdsmen clearly indicates that there is indeed no respite in sight for our security men. The explanations so far offered by concerned authorities on how these assailants invaded Miango, in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau state, a community under security watch, are not in sync with common sense. The statements are as indicting as worrisome.
The unsolved puzzle surrounding the activities of these killers is further compounded by the sheer inability of security agencies to emphatically tell us who these guys are. Their inability to put a face or name to these murderous acts daily fuels suspicion, especially by those who feel government hasn’t shown enough seriousness in unmasking the characters behind the madness. Undoubtedly, while the frequencies of these attacks are troubling, the audacity with which the attackers operate should give us cause for concern. How do we explain situation whereby arm-wielding herdsmen trail defenseless citizens to where they were camped after being chased out of their homes by the assailants and have their throats slashed.
One worrisome development is that, in recent times, critical government agencies have become very lethargic in responding to issues within their statutory mandates. A situation where the Nigerian Police Force which is domiciled in every nook and cranny of the country finds it almost difficult to respond swiftly to emergency calls within their areas of operations should be a source of concern to all discerning minds.
I listened to the incoherent explanation offered by the Plateau state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Jeremiah Undie on why the assailants took them unaware. He said, the “attackers did not adhere to the order on the restriction of movement”. Holy Moses! What could be hollower, nauseating than Mr. Undie’s submission! Was he really expecting criminal elements to obey law and order? It is indeed quite shocking that a 21st century security team would go to sleep simply because it earlier issued security directives.
Also, lack of synergy and cooperation among security agencies could be the missing link as to why these merchants of death are having the upper hand. Ideally, security forces, given their professional specialization should be able to gather and share intelligence on how best to monitor, track, isolate and deal with potential threat. Both the leaderships of Operation Safe Haven and Plateau Police Command contradicted each other in their separate submissions on the callous attack in Miango. This is an indication that both establishments neither share information nor work together. It is a sad reality.
Above all, President Muhammadu Buhari should urgently, beyond verbal condemnation direct his security chiefs to evolve measures that would unmask and also put names and faces to these killer herdsmen. It is altogether sad and disturbing that our entire security apparatus is unable to tell who these guys are after series of attacks linked to them. Putting names and faces to these characters isn’t rocket science. It isn’t a task that requires so much to achieve results.
How government handles this serious security concern before it degenerates, given its grave national implications, tells whether it is complicit or not. Those accusing government of complicity have based their conclusions on the usual lukewarm attitude often displayed by government after such attacks as well as failure to tag them terrorists. The best option left is for government to muster the needed resolve to tackle the issue head on. Beyond condemning the atrocious acts, we expect Mr. President to ensure that heads of security agencies swing into action immediately. A stitch in time saves nine. God bless Nigeria.
Mr Yunusa wrote in from FHA, Lugbe, Abuja