Herdsmen from different parts of Nigeria have stated that nobody can stop them from grazing their cattle in any part of the country, especially in the south. They described such restriction as unconstitutional.
The nomads, who spoke to our correspondent under the auspices of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, dismissed the ultimatums given by different groups for the herdsmen to vacate the southern part of the country.
This is despite the fact that groups, including foremost Yoruba farmers’ pressure group and ethnic militia, Agbekoya Farmers Association of Nigeria in the South-West; the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (South-East); the Independent Peoples of Biafra (South-East); and some ex-Niger Delta militants in the South-South, stated their readiness to defend their territories should herdsmen attack their communities again.
Suspected Fulani herdsmen, who grazed their cattle from the northern part of the country to the southern part, had been accused of killing, raping and robbing members of their host communities.
The Enugu incident, where several lives were lost, was the most recent.
But the herdsmen, in separate interviews with our correspondents on Saturday, noted that it was wrong for people to restrict their movement as the constitution guaranteed their movement into any part of the country.
The Chairman, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Plateau State, Mr. Nuru Abdullahi, said nobody could deprive Fulani herdsmen of their constitutional right of free movement.
Abdullahi said, “Why would they ask them not to go to the southern part of the country? It is their constitutional right to move freely as guaranteed by the laws of the land. What the various governments and security agencies should do is to prevent attacks and counter-attacks and such things that breed violence like cattle rustling and trespassing into farmlands.
“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees freedom of movement for every citizen of the country; this includes the right to live, work and carry out any legitimate activity in any part of the country. If and when you breach this freedom, then, the law should deal with you. So, asking anybody not to go to any part of the country is unconstitutional.”
Also, the Chairman, MCBAN, North-West Zone, Mr. Ardo Ahmadu Suleiman, warned against criminalising all Fulani herdsmen over the attacks.
He said, “We are law abiding citizens of Nigeria. The constitution forbids anybody or group from banning anybody’s movement from one part of the country to another. We have been staying peacefully with tribes across the country for ages. Therefore, for anyone to say he wants to ban Fulani from entering their land is uncalled for.”
However, several socio-cultural and militia groups in the southern part of the country on Saturday stated their readiness to reject the invasion of their communities by Fulani herdsmen.
Agbekoya gave the Federal Government a 14-day ultimatum to stop the incessant attacks by suspected Fulani herdsmen on farmers in Yorubaland even as it vowed to retaliate any attack on its members.
The position of the group was made known by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Olatunji Bandele, in a telephone interview with our correspondents.
According to Bandele, if the Federal Government fails to act decisively within the stipulated time, the Agbekoya will have to defend its people with whatever means at its disposal.
Bandele said the association held an emergency meeting last Thursday where it discussed the incessant onslaught by Fulani herdsmen against Yoruba farmers, especially in the Oke Ogun area of Oyo State.
He stated that if the situation was not brought under control, the group would “close down all markets in the South West; make sure that Fulani herdsmen do not enter any village in Yoruba land with their cows. And if they dare enter, they are doing it at their own risk.
“We have alerted Agbekoya South West warriors across Yorubaland to be battle ready in case the Fulani herdsmen do not heed our warning because this thing has continued for the past four to five years now.”
Bandele added, “We have other security measures that we are taking but keeping to ourselves. If the Fulani herdsmen failed to heed our warning and they dare enter Yorubaland, they will be doing so at their own risk. We are waiting for the Federal Government to take decisive action.”
The deadline, he added, started to read from last Thursday.
Asked if the group was now arming its members against the reported sophisticated fire arms of the suspected herdsmen, Bandele said, “We are not bothered with whether they carry arms or not, we will deal with the Fulani herdsmen hands down. We have done it before. The Agbekoya fought a 14-month war with the military. That was in 1968/69. We have instructed our warriors. Anywhere they kill farmers again, we will move in.”
Asked what the association would do per chance any part of Yoruba land was attacked, he said, “We will retaliate.”
The leader of MASSOB, Mr. Uchenna Madu, lamented that Igbo people had been “talking and talking” while they watched their people being killed. He stated that it was time for “action” to end killings by herdsmen.
Madu said, “The Fulani herdsmen are cowards. After the recent attacks, they ran away. If they mean business, let them wait for Ndi’gbo and we will engage them man-to-man.
“It will be demeaning to ask us if we have the capability to confront them.”
IPOB, another Igbo secessionist group which dismissed security agencies as failing to secure the people, alleged that Boko Haram had been disguising as herdsmen to attack parts of the country.
The Publicity Secretary of IPOB, Mr. Emma Powerful, stated that the group would not be at the forefront of reprisals against criminal herdsmen in the region but would encourage those under attack to defend and retaliate in self defence.
He said, “The world is watching IPOB; the plan was for us to retaliate the attacks by Fulani herdsmen but we will not do so. Rather, we will ask those who are under attack to defend themselves or get killed.
“The international rule is that you have the right to self defence if your life is under threat; security agencies know that. Face whatever or whoever is going to kill you or you die.”
Another Yoruba group, Oodua Peoples Congress, said although the Yoruba were perceived as accommodating, the group would not sit by and pretend as if all was well.
The National Coordinator of the OPC, Mr. Gani Adams, told one of our correspondents in a telephone interview that the attacks by Fulani herdsmen in the region had gone out of hand.
Adams said, “Nowadays, it is becoming too rampant in the South-West. Now, nobody is provoking the Fulani herdsmen; they are the ones taking laws into their hands, killing and maiming innocent people in their (victims’) communities.
Shun Detractors, Nsirim Tells Rivers People
The Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim has called on the people of the state to shun detractors whose stock in trade is to demarket the state.
Nsirim, who made the call when he appeared on a live radio phone-in programme, yesterday, organised by Multimesh Communications, operators of LOVE FM, in Port Harcourt, urged people of the state to join hands with Governor Nyesom Wike to build a new Rivers State.
“Let us join hands with Governor Nyesom Wike to build this new Rivers State because he is enthusiastic to make Rivers State a destination of choice and investors’ haven. He can do that if we collectively support him,” he said.
He said Wike has, in the last six years, demonstrated commitment to the execution of the NEW Rivers Vision blueprint configured to address the issues of education, healthcare, sports development, agriculture and rural development, women empowerment, among others, which he envisioned on assumption of office in 2015.
“We have a patriotic man who loves his state with all his heart. Governor Wike doesn’t want to play to the gallery about the development of Rivers State.
“He has promised Rivers people he will continue executing projects until he hands over in May, 2023. Such a character is rare to find in Nigerian governance.
“Governor Wike is bequeathing a new legacy for politics in Nigeria, to say to people not to abandon the people half way if given a mandate for the second tenure,” he said.
He said Wike’s dexterity in the execution of legacy projects in his second tenure is not to play to the gallery but to leave a legacy for posterity “because you see, often times people just come to public office without knowing that a day of reckoning will come.”
He emphasised that the governor wants to set the standard where he will leave the Brick House and walk tall the streets of Port Harcourt being heralded as a man who came and gave governance a new meaning.
“I can say without fear of contradiction that considering the infrastructural revolution currently witnessed in the state within the limits of available resources, Governor Wike has made every Rivers man proud,” he said.
Speaking on the 5,000 jobs, he said that names of applicants who applied for the jobs advertised by the Rivers State Government for placement in the civil service would soon be made public.
He said, “Very soon, the Rivers State Civil Service Commission will publish names and the results of the applications”.
Nsirim added, “The challenge is that the applications need to be sifted but I assure that applicants will be given a fair ground.”
The commissioner said there was no need for people to lose hope as the governor does not make pronouncements of things he cannot fulfill, hence the citizenry need to be patient.
He used the opportunity to dismiss claims that the state government has not given priority attention to human capital development.
According to him, since the governor came on board, no fewer than 3,000 persons have been employed in the various government agencies.
Nsirim, among others, cited the employment of lecturers and non-academic staff in the Rivers State University, adding that, “When the governor came on board, he reinstated the 500 lecturers disengaged by the last administration in the state university.”
In addition to that, he stated that the three new satellite campuses of the state university at Ahoada, Etche will also employ services of the people, as he noted that the various scholarships for medical and legal students are all part of human capital development policies of the Wike-led administration.
Reacting to the dilapidated state of the Igbo-Etche Road, the state image maker said that it was being looked into currently.
“This government is a listening administration, and it responds to the cries of the people,” he assured.
The commissioner stated that the infrastructure transformation of the Wike administration was to ensure that the city meets future challenge and does not implode as experienced in Lagos.
By: Kevin Nengia
Don’t Allow Army Officers Involve In Politics, Wike Tasks COAS
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has urged the new Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Farouk Yahaya not to allow his officers abandon their professional duties and get involved in mainstream politics.
The governor gave the charge when he hosted the new Chief of Army Staff on a courtesy visit at Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday evening.
Wike noted how the fight against insecurity has suffered set back because Army officers became partisan, and could not stand on the side of professional practice because of their bias.
He recalled a situation in Rivers State when the Army turned the 6 Division into an election collation centre during the 2019 general election in the state.
According to Wike, Rivers women also stopped the Army from rigging the 2019 general election.
Wike stated that his administration was always willing and ready to work with all the security agencies in the fight against criminality in Rivers State.
“I don’t understand why we cannot remove politics from our jobs. Let’s do our jobs and keep the country going. I can tell you that I’m willing and ready to work with all the security agencies, not only the Army.
“The gun boats we are providing are almost ready. We have paid for everything. We will also provide vehicles. All I need is security of my people. I’m here to partner with you.
“I am here to make sure that lives and property are protected. I do so by giving support to the security agencies to protect lives and property, and to protect our natural assets.”
Wike pointed out that banditry; kidnapping and agitations were different dimensions of crimes that have put Nigeria in dire situation.
According to Wike, while no form of criminality should be condoned, those agitating against perceived injustice and seeking to address their grievances, should not also adopt violence.
The governor restated his belief in the unity of Nigeria, because it was God who has put the different people together, and such decision cannot be a mistake.
“There must be differences. There must be anger. It is for us to sit down to discuss it. I have said generally that I am not against anybody agitating for whatever you want to agitate. My take is that you cannot be violent.
“So, if anybody says they’re agitating, I have no problem. But don’t agitate to say I’m part of you. No, don’t do that. I am the governor of Rivers State, with all due respect. I must make sure the territory called Rivers State must not be taken away by anybody or group of people. It is my responsibility to protect it.
“I believe in the unity of this country. I believe that God did not make mistake to say there should be a country called Nigeria.”
Speaking further, Wike explained that his administration was ridding the state of shanties that have served as criminal hideouts for hoodlums who were disturbing the peace of the state.
The governor said the action is not targeted at any group of persons, and urged them to stop reading ethnic or religious coloration into government’s action.
Wike commended the new Chief of Army Staff for the proactive measures taken since he assumed duties to address the threats that have challenged the sovereignty of the country.
The governor noted that the challenges will be enormous, but if the current tempo is sustained and also improved upon, the desired success will be achieved.
“You should continue to maintain integrity that respect for the Nigerian Army. It is very important. Even if you leave office today, you can say that while I was Chief of Army Staff, I maintained that the integrity of the Army must be protected at all times.”
In his speech, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Farouk Yahaya, said he was in Port Harcourt on an operation visit to 6 Division of Nigerian Army, having just assumed command of the Nigeria Army, recently.
According to him, he was also using his visit to officially open the Combat Support Training Week, and invited the governor to be their Special Guest of Honour.
“It is usual to go round formations and units under the command to see on the ground the troops, interact, and assess their readiness, including their achievements and challenges.
“In doing that, it is also usual to pay respect and courtesy on the governor of the state. I want to appreciate you, having received brief from the General Officer Commanding (GOC) on all the support that you have been providing for the Nigerian Army, indeed, the military, in Rivers State”, the COAS added.
US Justifies Sale Of A-29 Super Tucano Fighter Planes To Nigeria
The United States has said that A-29 Super Tucanos were sold to Nigeria to strengthen the country’s fight against terrorism.
The US’ Chargé d’Affaires, Kathleen FitzGibbon, said this during the inspection of the newly arrived first six American Sierra Nevada Corporation/Embraer Defense and Security A-29 “Super Tucano” Light Attack aircraft, yesterday.
A statement by United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria quoted FitzGibbon as saying that the aircraft represented a historic level of cooperation achieved between the U.S. and Nigerian militaries.
“Beyond the new hardware that you see on this runway, this program has brought our two militaries closer in formal training, professional development, air base construction, logistics planning, and negotiations. We are proud to partner with Nigeria in its ‘whole of government’ approach to end violent extremism and ensure a more stable, prosperous country for all Nigerians,” FitzGibbon added.
Also speaking, US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, welcomed the pilots and aircraft from Massachusetts on the first leg of their trans-Atlantic flight.
The statement added, “The Super Tucano is a dual-pilot turboprop aircraft built as a workhorse combat air platform, equipped for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and for precision air-to-ground strike missions. The next six aircraft are scheduled for delivery later this year.
“The Super Tucano platform for Nigeria is the United States’ largest Foreign Military Sales program in Sub-Saharan Africa, valued at almost $500million. This program follows the Department of Defense’s ‘Total Package Approach’ model and includes spare parts for several years of operation, contract logistics support, munitions, and a multi-year construction project to improve Kainji’s infrastructure.
“Through this program, the U.S. Air Force’s 81st Fighter Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, trained Nigerian pilots and maintenance crews to U.S. standards. Training also emphasizes the Law of Armed Conflict and Civilian Casualty Mitigation, which are fundamental principles of the Nigerian military’s professional education and training.
“With the A-29 Super Tucano purchase, the Nigerian Air Force also has become a founding member of the U.S. Air Force’s ‘Combined Light Attack Experiment’, which is developing Light Attack global best-practice tactics and doctrine for the 21st century.”
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, had placed an order for 12 Super Tucano fighter jets after extensive discussions with the US government.
The Nigerian Air Force last Thursday took delivery of the first batch of six jets from the US.
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