President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday said the killings in some parts of Nigeria would soon come to an end as his administration was finding solutions to them.
The President’s assurance followed a fresh attack by Fulani herdsmen on Tuesday night, during which 10 persons were killed, while many others were injured in the Logo and Ukum local government areas of Benue State.
According to a statement by Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the President spoke while receiving the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, in London.
Responding to his guest’s comment on the clashes between herdsmen and farmers in different parts of Nigeria, the President, who noted that the problem was not new, added that the situation was compounded by the influx of armed men from the Sahel region into West Africa.
Buhari said the problem should not been seen from the point of view of religion, saying it was sociological and economic.
The President said, “The problem is older than us. It has always been there, but now made worse by the influx of gunmen from the Sahel region into different parts of the West African sub-region.
“These gunmen were trained and armed by Muammar Gadaffi of Libya. When he was killed, the gunmen escaped with their arms.
“Herdsmen that we used to know carried only sticks and maybe a cutlass to clear the way, but these ones now carry sophisticated weapons. The problem is not religious, but sociological and economic. But we are working on solutions.”
He lamented that “irresponsible politics” has been brought into the farmers/herders’ crisis, assuring his guest that enduring solutions would be found, while justice would be done to all concerned.
Buhari said he decided to seek re-election in 2019 because the majority of Nigerians were appreciative of his efforts to reposition the country.
He said he decided to declare his intention on Monday during the National Executive Committee meeting of the ruling All Progressives Congress because of the anxiety among Nigerians.
He said, “I declared before leaving home because Nigerians were talking about whether I would run or not. So, I felt I should break the ice.
“We have many things to focus on, like security, agriculture, economy, anti-corruption, and many others. We needed to concentrate on them; politics should not be a distraction.
“The majority of Nigerians appreciate what we are doing, and that is why I am re-contesting.”
Buhari recounted some successes of his administration with particular emphasis on agriculture.
“We have cut the importation of rice by about 90 per cent, saving billions of dollars in the process. Nigeria should be able to feed itself comfortably soon,” the President said.
On the war against insurgency, he stressed the need for continuous education of the people, “so that they can be free from religious manipulation.”
On Leah Sharibu, the schoolgirl from Dapchi still being held by insurgents because she refused to renounce her Christian faith, the President said his government was handling her case quietly.
He said his administration was avoiding dealing with many fraudulent people who had been making “frivolous claims” on the matter.
“Making noise would not help. We are collecting as much intelligence as possible, working with the Red Cross and other international organizations.
“There are too many fraudulent people around; we won’t deal with them. That was how we got the Dapchi girls back, and the Chibok girls,” he added.
Welby said it was always a delight to see Buhari whom he said he had tremendous respect for.
“You have my best wishes on your recent decision. We are neutral as a church, but we will pray for you. Great statesmen are those who run for the good of their country,” the clergyman told the President.
The Archbishop presented Buhari with a copy of his recent book, ‘Reimagining Britain: Foundations for Hope.’
Buhari and Welby were joined by the Nigeria High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, George Oguntade; and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon.
Again, herdsmen kill 10 in Benue
In Benue State, 10 persons were killed on Tuesday night and many others injured in attacks by suspected Fulani herdsmen on Logo and Ukum local government areas.
Seven persons were killed in Gbeji, in the Ukum LGA, while three were killed in Channel 1, in the Logo LGA.
Those killed in Gbeji were identified as Mtserkyaa lgbugh, Kananfa Amarfu, Tyavyar Akau, Orfega Hiikyaa, Kanyitor Uor and a 75-year-old passerby, whose identity has yet to be ascertained.
Those killed in Tswaregh were identified as Tor Imbor, Aondowua Mnyor and Msugh Ajura.
Our correspondent learnt that the herdsmen, who attacked the two local government areas almost simultaneously, also razed houses and destroyed other properties worth millions of naira.
A resident of Gbeji, Mr. Abraham Ngyenev, said the attack started at about six pm and lasted for more than three hours.
Another eyewitness, Mathias Azawe, described the attack as devastating as it came when people were planting their crops.
At Logo, two residents, Terkimbir Hemen and Jacob lorkyaa, said the attack began around 7pm.
Hemen said, “The attacks led to thousands of the villagers fleeing to safety, especially women and children.”
Confirming the incident, the Ukum LGA Chairman, Mr. Iberlogo Tortyokyaa, called on the Federal Government to protect the citizens.
The Benue State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, said, “We can confirm that as of this morning (Wednesday) suspected herdsmen attacked the areas. Four dead bodies were recovered. We have stepped up security in the areas and we are investigating.”
The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, described the attacks on Benue State as an extension of the terrorism perpetrated by Boko Haram.
Speaking on Wednesday in Makurdi, he said the manner the armed men invaded communities of the state and slaughter innocent people was not different from the mindless acts of Boko Haram in the North Eastern part of the country.
They come with sophisticated weapons, kill people and chase them away. In some cases, they do not have herds. They just come with their weapons, kill and chase the people out and take over the land and that is the worrisome part of it.
“The trend of attacks on Benue is beyond mere grazing of livestock. If the invaders were only interested in grazing, the massive destruction of lives and property would not have been their priority,” he said.