Herdsmen Killings: Faulting Buhari’s Management of Security Challenges

There is something wrong with the way that President Muhammadu Buhari is tackling the security challenges in the country. Something is fundamentally amiss in his security policy and modus operandi. That very thing needs to be expressly pointed out and highlighted before it is too late.

Vague references have already been made to the flaws and flops in letters that some concerned Nigerians have written, and in statements that have so far been released. Some have equated it to a form of political patronage. Others called it nepotism.

Whichever way that people may choose to describe this anomaly, security-wise, Buhari is increasingly becoming a polarizing figure. The Nigerian president is driving the country to the edge, fueling division and tension nationwide. Simply put, Buhari’s government has become a huge security threat.

Why do I say so?
President Buhari, a former military head of state, took office in 2015 vowing to focus on three priority areas, and one of them was security. Specifically, he pledged to root out Boko Haram. And to be fair to him, Buhari has tried to respond to that problem. Soldiers have made significant gains in containing the threat of Boko Haram.

Although going by recent developments, Boko Haram has not been defeated as Buhari claimed.
The security challenges that Buhari faced actually became more complicated and multifaceted with the agitation for Biafra and increased cases of kidnapping and militancy in the Niger Delta. But Buhari has in trying to address these challenges worsened the security situation.

A cursorily look at the way and manner that Buhari has addressed these security challenges including the case of El Zak Zaky and the Shiites indicate ethnoreligious bias, hatred, and prejudice.

By the way, some eminent Nigerians have already expressed concerns over Buhari’s lopsided appointments especially the security chiefs noting that he ignored the internal political dynamics. Some of Buhari’s supporters have dismissed these concerns as wailings by political jobbers and losers. Well if one takes a critical look at the breeding tensions and animosities in many parts of the country as a result of the activities of the security agencies, it is obvious that those concerns and criticisms were not totally misplaced.

They were not baseless and inconsequential, as some have suggested. These appointments have left Nigeria more divided and polarised.

Let’s just take a look at how the security agencies responded to four security challenges- the demonstrations by Shiites, the militancy in the Niger Delta, the agitation for Biafra, and the killings by Fulani herdsmen. It is so obvious. The management of these security issues drips with unfairness, imbalance, and bias.

First of all, soldiers responded to the demonstrations by members of Shiites by attacking and killing some of them including the children of the leader in Nigeria. Buhari has kept El Zak Zaky in detention refusing to release him. None of those behind the attack and killing of Shiite members has been brought to justice.

What exactly was the crime of El Zak Zaky and his Shiite members? On the other hand what happened to the perpetrators on blasphemy killings in Kano, Niger, and Zamfara? Nothing. Why have the security agencies not fished out and dealt with the blasphemy killers?

While in the Niger Delta, the security agencies have engaged in extrajudicial killings of real or imagined militants in the area.

There is virtually no place or option for prosecution and rehabilitation of suspects as Buhari has openly canvassed in the case of the herdsmen.

Buhari ordered similar military operation against all suspected agitators of Biafra. Videos and images of brutal attacks and killings of suspected members of IPOB by soldiers went viral on the Internet. Corpses of some real or imagined Biafra agitators who were shot and killed by Nigerian soldiers including those holding Biafran flags have been discovered in the bush.

The leader of IPOB and some of his associates have gone missing since soldiers invaded the home last year.

Now compare that to the case of the Fulani herdsmen. Buhari has been calling for caution, dialogue and disarming of the herdsmen. The attacks have often taken the soldiers by surprise. The attackers have been elusive.

Until recently, no arrest was made because the security agencies claimed that they could not trace these killer herdsmen. Neither the police nor the soldiers were able to apprehend any suspect.

Buhari did not send soldiers after the herdsmen the way he did in the case of the militants and agitators in the Niger Delta and in the Southeast respectively.

In fact, a sitting governor arranged and paid money to the herdsmen so that they could stop attacking and killing people in his own state. Buhari personally ordered that herdsmen be disarmed, suspected attackers should be taken to court and be prosecuted. Buhari did not declare the herdsmen association a terrorist organization.

Even after the incessant attacks and killing in Benue, the leader and his members have been moving about freely and the killings have are still going on.

Now let’s face it, actually, some Niger Delta militants have killed and kidnapped persons. But their murderous activities cannot in any way be compared with the bloodletting that Fulani herdsmen have unleashed on this nation. Shiite members and Biafra agitators staged demonstrations. Biafra agitators issued threats and engaged in incitement of hatred and violence.

The leader of IPOB asked for arms in a video. But the Buhari government has made it seem as if the Biafra agitations and the Shiite demonstrations posed more threat to the nation than the terror and savagery of the Fulani herdsmen. Comparatively speaking that is not the case.

Just look at how Buhari’s security agents dealt with Shiite members and their leader. They shot, killed and wounded them for staging demonstrations. Look at what happened to the Biafra agitators and their leader. But it was a different stroke for the herdsmen.

Nobody is calling for the extrajudicial attacks, execution, and detention of herdsmen and their leaders. Fulanis are Nigerians. Law-abiding Fulani herdsmen should be treated with dignity and respect. But the fact remains that Buhari’s bias in dealing with these security challenges has been so glaring.

In his inaugural speech in 2015, Buhari stated that he belonged to everybody and that he belonged to nobody. But today, Nigerians know better. Nigerians are in no doubt as to the body that President Muhammadu Buhari belongs. Buhari’s lopsided appointments have revealed where he belongs.

The way he is addressing the security challenges says it all. In fact, the way that President Buhari is managing the security issues in the country poses more challenge to the future and survival of the nation than the combined threats of Niger Delta militancy, Biafra agitation and attacks by Fulani herdsmen.

Leo Igwe is a regular contributor of the Maravi Post.

The views expressed in this article are not necessarily the views of the Publisher or the Editor of the Maravi Post.

Leo Igwe :Leo Igwe (born July 26, 1970) is a Nigerian human rights advocate and humanist. Igwe is a former Western and Southern African representative of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, and has specialized in campaigning against and documenting the impacts of child witchcraft accusations. He holds a Ph.D from the Bayreuth International School of African Studies at the University of Bayreuth in Germany, having earned a graduate degree in Philosophy from the University of Calabar in Nigeria. Igwe's human rights advocacy has brought him into conflict with high-profile witchcraft believers, such as Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries, because of his criticism of what he describes as their role in the violence and child abandonment that sometimes result from accusations of witchcraft. His human rights fieldwork has led to his arrest on several occasions in Nigeria. Igwe has held leadership roles in the Nigerian Humanist Movement, Atheist Alliance International, and the Center For Inquiry—Nigeria. In 2012, Igwe was appointed as a Research Fellow of the James Randi Educational Foundation, where he continues working toward the goal of responding to what he sees as the deleterious effects of superstition, advancing skepticism throughout Africa and around the world. In 2014, Igwe was chosen as a laureate of the International Academy of Humanism and in 2017 received the Distinguished Services to Humanism Award from the International Humanist and Ethical Union. Igwe was raised in southeastern Nigeria, and describes his household as being strictly Catholic in the midst of a "highly superstitious community," according to an interview in the Gold Coast Bulletin.[1] At age twelve, Igwe entered the seminary, beginning to study for the Catholic priesthood, but later was confused by conflicting beliefs between Christian theology and the beliefs in witches and wizards that are "entrenched in Nigerian society."[1] After a period of research and internal conflict due to doubts about the "odd blend of tribalism and fundamentalist Christianity he believes is stunting African development," a 24-year-old Igwe resigned from the seminary and relocated to Ibadan, Nigeria

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