Herdsmen And National Security

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Clashes between herdsmen and
farmers across Nigeria are as old
as anyone can remember, but why such clashes would suddenly become rampant and claim so many lives now is one concern that Nigeria may need to unravel. Another would be to ask why such killings have been overlooked in the past.
In the past few months, the deaths recorded in clashes between herdsmen and farmers are beginning to compare with figures from Boko Haram casualties. Indeed, a member of the National Assembly got it right when he called the avoidable loss of lives as “herdsmen/farmers– Haram”.
Even after the Federal Government deployed the military to some troubled areas, especially after reports of the use of chemicals against hapless villagers, some elements suspected to be herdsmen killed 200 persons in Zamfara in one flash attack.
According to reports, these herdsmen are so vicious that they kill people in their farms without provocation. Worse still, the calibre of weaponry and the co-ordinated attacks that had set many villages on flight clearly portend serious danger for Nigeria.
It was therefore understandable when the National Assembly summoned the Inspector General of Police, the National Security Adviser and the Defence Minister over the deteroriating security situation in Zamfara, Taraba, Benue States, among others.
It should be on record that if government had taken serious reports of the farming communities over the trespass and fatal attacks by herdsmen over the year, the situation would not have escalated to this level where safety of lives and property in Nigeria would become doubtful.
Apart from the threat to agriculture and the livelihood of thousands of families, the trespass of herdsmen that results in the wanton destruction of farms and the killing of the farmers for daring to protect their farms should be condemned in its entirety.
Sadly, all that the Federal Government had to say on the matter some regimes ago was to provide grazing fields for the cattle across the country. Of course, the plan could not have seen the light of day because it was not properly thought through.
Today, the military had been called in, and we hope that it would be for a short period. Clearly, the military option cannot be the solution. Interestingly, we are living in a global village where the example for dealing with issues like this can be found.
The Tide thinks that the first step should be the enactment of a legislation that prohibits the destruction of farms by any grazing animal. Indeed, such law should forbid animals from crossing State boundaries nor allowed to stray.
Similarly, the law should ensure that cattles are kept and fed in ranches. This should also affect other animals who when they stray can endanger lives and crops. That law should also stipulate how animals should be transported either by trailer, train or dressed and moved in cold rooms.
We think that if there are, already in place similar laws, they should be updated quickly and enforced to the letter. We think that it was time government dealt with this matter decisively. It is embarrassing that anything can become an instrument for violence in Nigeria.
Nigeria has enough security challenges already. That some persons would go under the guise of being herdsmen to destroy villages should not happen again.
While we commiserate with villagers that lost their love ones, we pray that suspects in the hands of security agencies will get justice. That these herdsmen also rob motorists with arms at some lonely places should be properly investigated and nipped in the bud.
Because herdsmen had killed un-suspecting persons even in Etche, Elele, Eleme and some other parts of Rivers State, the situation calls for extra vigilance. No longer should this be allowed to continue.