*North may revenge killings in S/West, says Tofa
*We had since banned open grazine in the S/East – gov. Umahi
*Killer herdsmen must pay for their atrocities – Gov. Makinde
By Williams Orji, Myke Uzendu and Angela Nwaeze (Abakaliki)
The issue of herdsmen killings in the country has pitched the Presidential candidate of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) and elder statesman, Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa, and some southern governors with the later taking on Tofa over his tirade concerning on-going killings in parts of the country, especially attributed to herdsmen.
While Tofa sees the situation as war against the Fulani tribe, which he said could lead to bloody reprisal, the governors said that herdsmen have been the greatest threat to Nigeria’s national security.
Aolhaji Tofa in condemning what he described as “the recent upsurge in killings in the South-West”, warned that if revenge attacks begin, it would be difficult to control.
He made the statement on Tuesday in Kano, saying “the killings and maiming of people of northern extraction are totally unacceptable”.
According to him, “there is clearly a nefarious plan to initiate a violent crisis that may lead to the destruction of the country”, although again, he failed to substantiate or provide evidence.
He said, “the mayhem we see, almost every day now, of killings and maiming of people of Northern extraction, including especially, the Fulani, in some other parts of the country, is totally unacceptable.
“There is clearly a nefarious plan by the enemies of this potentially great country to initiate a violent crisis that may lead to its destruction.
“Tension is beginning to brew, and if revenge attacks on Southerners begin here in the North, it will be difficult to control.
“Our enemies from within and outside, some well-known by our Security Agencies, are more determined than ever to set us against each other, so that we may get to a point of no return when the conflagration began.
“There is no part of this country that is at peace. Local and neighbouring, including foreign terrorist, are busy, fully armed, to cause whatever damage they can inflict on our dear country.”
Tofa however called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take the on-going insecurity and tribal lynching happening across the country very seriously, saying that there is need for “urgent measures to deal with them without any more delays”.
He said: “If any Nigerian will not be allowed to live freely and conduct their lives and businesses in any part of the country without being disturbed or molested or even killed, then no one should be allowed to settle and prosper anywhere else.
“If that were to be the case, then, we have no country. That is how serious it is. And that is what our enemies desire. We must not allow them by our inaction.”
According to him, “those foolish leaders and their stupid hirelings who encourage the expulsion of other Nigerians from their states, should remember that their own indigenes also live in other parts.
“They must stop, or the law should stop them, by all means, necessary,” he stated.
*We long banned open grazing in South-East – gov. Umahi
Though not referring to Alhaji Tofa, the South-East governors took the issue from a different dimension, reiterating that open grazing had been banned and will remain banned.
The South East governors, like their counterparts in the South-West, said herdsmen have inflicted pain on their people which prompted the quit notice given to them from the forests and farmland.
Umahi who is the Chairman of the Southeast Governors Forum, made the clarification at the All Progressive Congress (APC) stakeholders meeting in Abakaliki.
He said that the Forum had long banned the movement of cows by foot, adding that he was fully in support of the call to flush out criminal elements from forests across the country to boost the security of the citizenry.
“In our forests today, we have kidnappers, herdsmen, cultists, all sorts of criminals. Anybody staying in the forest is taking a risk when we say that people should move out of the forests. It is for their safety and security.
“Governors of South East have been calling on our leaders to speak out on the security of the zone and unity of Nigeria.
“What we discuss with the herdsmen is the system in place for a long time”.
Apparently in response to Tofa, he said: “What our people must know is that security is not political. What is demanded of the leaders is to put up programmess that favour the people and foster national unity”.
*Killer herdsmen must pay for their atrocities – Gov. Makinde
From Oyo State, Governor Seyi Makinde sent a stern warning to all bandits and criminal elements masquerading as herdsmen or residing in forests in the zone to depart or “prepare to pay for your activities to the fullest”.
The governor made the declaration on Monday, on a day he declared that his government had practically turned the heat on kidnappers and criminals in Ibarapa and Oke-Ogun axis of the state.
He spoke at a townhall meeting with the people of Ibarapaland where he promised to ensure that no more lives were lost to insecurity, while the criminal elements were brought to book account for their heinous acts in the state.
Taiwo Adisa, the governor’s spokesman, who captured his interactions with the people at Idere, Igangan and visits to the homes of the late Dr. Fatai Aborode and others who lost their lives to the crisis in the area, Makinde said he was in great pains over the needless loss of lives to the bandits.
The governor, was at the home of Mrs. Idowu Babarinde, who lost a child to indiscriminate shooting by kidnappers in their attempt to kidnap a filling station owner in Idere, to commiserate with her, said families of the victims would be compensated for the loss of their loved ones.
He said: “I decided to spend the night in Ibarapaland so as to let you know that if my people in this place cannot sleep with two eyes closed, I cannot also sleep with my two eyes closed in Ibadan,” the Governor said, adding the visit afforded him the opportunity of feeling the pains of the people first-hand.
“ The government will compensate victims of the insecurity situation in Ibarapaland. Government will up of an all-inclusive peace and security committee at the local government levels and the stepping up intelligence gathering in the area.
“So, I have listened to you. I came here purposely to sleep over to demonstrate that your problem is also my problem. If you cannot sleep with your two eyes closed, I also have no business sleeping with my two eyes closed in Ibadan.”
At the home of the Aborodes where he commiserated with father of the late Aborode, Makinde said: “I want to tell you that I feel your pain because when I saw the news of the death of Dr. Fatai Aborode, I was seriously pained.
“In 2017, when we were striving to restructure the PDP, we started meetings and put some people in some local governments.
“Dr. Aborode was made the point man in Ibarapa North. I was at Ibadan in charge of Ibadan North-East and we did hold meetings at Premier Hotel.
“The situation is that if a tsetse fly perches on one’s private part, it requires wisdom to make it fly away or to kill it.”