The Presidency, on Monday, asked the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force to publish the names of Fulani herdsmen undergoing trials in various states across the country for killings and other violence.
It also said President Muhammadu Buhari, who is also of the Fulani ethnic stock, is not complicit in the herdsmen crisis rocking many parts of the nation.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, made this known while speaking on Channels Television’s programme.
He said, “The president is more than concerned of the ongoing situation, he is fully conscious of the fact that it is the responsibility of his government to work with Nigerians to secure lives and stop the ongoing crisis whether they are kidnappings or the new line of ethnic violence. He condemns it and he does not support it.
“Having spoken against it, it follows that all security agencies must take their line of action from the president’s remark and do that which is necessary which is to stop the escalation of the violent attacks being witnessed in some parts of the country and ensure that it does not go beyond where it has been recorded.”
Shehu also described as “uncharitable”, comments made against Buhari, adding that many criminal Fulani herders are being prosecuted.
“I hope the headquarters of the police will take responsibility and publish the full list of Fulani herders who are undergoing trials in various states particularly in Benue State.
“Trials are going on, convictions have been made and the president cannot be complicit. It is very uncharitable. The president cannot be complicit in the kinds of things being said of him,” he added.
The South-West region has been in the eye of the storm lately over the activities of herdsmen who invade farmlands with their cattle, harass farmers, and in some cases kill them. Some herdsmen have also been accused of kidnapping, rape and other vicious crimes.
Speaking further, Shehu noted that the President was doing everything to ensure the safety of lives and property in the country.
He said, “The President is more than concerned about the ongoing situation. And he is fully conscious of the fact that it is the responsibility of his government to work with all Nigerians to secure lives and stop the ongoing crises, whether they are kidnapping or ethnic hatred and violence. He condemns it.
“It is for community leaders – local, traditional, and elected – to work with the President.
“The country’s military, as we speak, is overstretched because they are active in at least 34 of the 36 states of the federation, including the FCT.
“The Air Force, the police, they are recruiting, day and night; people are being trained in special operations and are being sent to the forest.”
Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, had accused the President of treating criminal Fulani herdsmen with kid gloves, saying he needs to openly condemn the actions of killer herdsmen.
“We have never heard it,” Abaribe said. “Where did the President ever say that these criminal herdsmen will never be tolerated in this country? What we’ve heard from 2016 all the way down is ‘live in peace with your neighbour’ and ‘try to accommodate your countrymen’ and stuff of that nature.
“And that now enables those who are committing these crimes, that there is no punishment.
“And when you see the rest of the country, eruptions here and there, all targeted at a particular segment of people, you should be very worried. And why you should be very worried is, what is it that gives these people the impetus to continue to commit these crimes?”
But Shehu countered Abaribe, saying when presidential aides like himself speak for the president.
He said, “When Femi Adesina or myself speak for the President, people should accept that it is the President that is speaking. For this President, it is the actions that should speak for him. He is not a showman. He doesn’t have to be there.
“And let’s be understood, we are not trying to personalise anything. Senator Abaribe dwelt a lot, attacking President Muhammadu Buhari, saying that he has not, even at a rhetorical level, spoken against this kind of violence.
“That is most uncharitable. This country has problems. It requires the involvement of everyone. All hands must be on deck.”