THISDAY HEADLINE: Buhari: Politicians Taking Advantage of Killings

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Human lives have become increasingly cheap in Nigeria, and politicians are taking advantage of the insecurity situation in the country to position themselves, President Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday.

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“We know that a number of geographical and economic factors are contributing to the longstanding herdsmen/farmers clashes. But we also know that politicians are taking advantage of the situation. This is incredibly unfortunate,” the president was quoted by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Shehu Garba, to have said in a reaction to last weekend murder of over 100 souls in three local government areas of Plateau State by yet to be identified gunmen.

Notwithstanding the provocation, Buhari still admonished, “Nigerians affected by the herdsmen/ farmer clashes must always allow the due process of the law to take its course rather than taking matters into their own hands.”

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Explaining the cause of the gruesome massacre, Garba said information available to the presidency showed that the rustling of about 100 cattle by a community in the state led to the killings by some herdsmen.

The statement attracted an instant rebuke by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, dismissed it as insensitive and demanded for an unreserved apology to Nigerians from the president.

The police and the military, however, announced fresh measures, including the deployment of special forces in the troubled state to forestall escalation of violence even as the herders’ umbrella body, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN), justified the killings, saying it was unrealistic to expect that theft of about 100 cattle by the affected community would not attract reprisal from its members.

Expectedly Miyetti Allah’s statement was seen as brazen by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), which has now externalised the conflict, calling on the international community to come to the aid of its members who are largely affected by the persistent violent conflicts.

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Garba’s statement had explained that the state Governor, Simon Lalong, had invited the aggrieved groups and pleaded against further action while the law enforcement agents was looking into the matter but that less than 24 hours later, violence broke out.

“Some local thugs then took advantage of the situation, turning it into an opportunity to extort the public and to attack people from rival political parties,” he said, adding, “There were reports of vehicles being stopped along the roads in the state, with people being dragged out of their cars and attacked if they stated that they supported certain politicians or political party.

According to the presidential aide, “On his way back to Jos after attending the All Progressives Congress (APC) Convention in Abuja, the state governor had to dismantle a number of illegal road blocks set up by these thugs. There were also a number of dead bodies thugs had killed, lying along the road.”

 

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