17th January, 2018
ARREST ALL KILLERS, NOT BENUE KILLERS ALONE
The Nigerian Senate yesterday gave the Inspector General of Police (IG) 14 days to arrest and prosecute Benue killers.
While the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) welcomes this development, we see the need for clarification and modification of Senate’s request.
In the first place, we need to ask whether the killers who should be arrested are just herdsmen who have been accused of killings in Benue. If this is so, there is need for modification particularly in the light of the exposure of a killer army being sponsored by Benue State authorities and the claim by herdsmen that the Benue militia had been killing Fulanis in the state. Therefore IG must not only arrest killer herdsmen but also arrest, detain and prosecute killer militiamen in illegal camps in Benue.
Secondly, IG’s deterrent action must not be limited to Benue alone. He must spread his dragnet to Taraba, Plateau and other volatile states where killings of all forms have occurred. The herdsmen have complained that 1,000 of their men have been killed in different states while two million of their cattle have been rustled. No serious security outfit can close its eyes to this allegation if it wants enduring peace.
What MURIC is saying is that arresting and prosecuting herdsmen alone for killings in Benue can only give Nigeria peace of the graveyard. It will not last. For lasting peace, we must fish out those who have been killing herdsmen and rustling their cows. That is comprehensive justice. Only a holistic disciplinary action can halt the cycle of violence.
MURIC is deeply concerned that nobody was arrested when 732 Fulanis were killed in Mambila, Plateau State. We are greatly worried that the security agents looked on as 82 women and children of Fulani stock were massacred in Numan, Adamawa State by Bachama militiamen. Again, what did the IG do when 24 Fulanis were killed in Lau? What did the army do when 96 Fulanis were cut down in cold blood in Kajuru, Kaduna State?
Our pertinent question here is: are Fulanis not human beings like other Nigerians? Can we imagine the total number of lives lost by the Fulani within a period of seven months? To us in MURIC, every Nigerian life is precious. Killers are killers no matter where they come from. But we must not stigmatise a whole tribe because of the criminal activities of a few. We must separate killers from their tribes and their religion.
There are law-abiding, patriotic and good citizens among the Christians, Muslims and traditionalists but criminal elements are also in all faiths. It is the same among all ethnic groups. The fact that Evans is a kidnapper does not make all Igbo indigenes kidnappers. As we have criminal Fulanis and Tivs, so we have erudite scholars, seasoned lawyers, high profile politicians, experienced administrators and business moguls among them. Oyenusi, a Yoruba man, was the first armed robber executed by a firing squad in Nigeria, but does that make all Yoruba people armed robbers?
Those who ethnicise or religionise killings are enemies of Nigeria. They are deliberately inviting anarchy. But we must exercise caution because nobody knows who will survive a national pogrom. How can anybody in his right senses say the killings in Benue are targeted at Christians?
Are the people of Zamfara also Christians? Killings in Zamfara have been occurring for years yet nobody did anything. The Nigerian Army, the police and DSS went to sleep. The press looked the other way. 23 locals were killed in Daraga in October 2011. 48 lives were terminated in June 2013 in Kizara village. More than 200 people were massacred in April 2014 in Unguwar Galadima. 50 were slaughtered in Kwanar Dutse in February 2016. 36 were killed in Bindin in November of the same year while another 23 people were killed in Tungar Kahau and Mallamawa, all in Zamfara State alone. All the victims were Muslims but nobody showed concern.
To cut a long story short, we charge the IG to conduct a comprehensive and impartial investigation, arrest, detention and prosecution of all killers among the herdsmen, Benue militia, Bachama terrorists and all criminal elements who are cutting short the lives of innocent Nigerians. We urge the press to avoid assymetrical journalism and to Nigerianise their reportage, particularly in sensitive cases like that of Benue.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
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