The National Association of Seadogs, Pyrates Confraternity, notes with deep concern the recent escalation of farmers/herders clashes and related insecurity in Oyo and Ondo States together with the killings that occurred due to the clash between security agents and the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) backed Eastern Security Network in Okporo, Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State.
The recent conflict in Ondo and Ogun States, the ethnic vitriol and rhetoric, the killings and destruction of property, the clashes and loss of lives in Imo State are mere symptoms of a deeper problem. The sudden rashes of wanton killings in almost every part of Nigeria – between farmers and herdsmen, between IPOB loyalists and law enforcement officers, between citizens of Southern Kaduna and the faceless murderous ‘bandits’ are mere symptoms of a deeper ailment.
In the true Nigerian fashion of applying a hasty salve on a septic wound, the political elite has sought to reach a compromise. While we commend Governors and other non-state actors who have stepped in to douse tensions, we feel it an urgent duty to warn that under the surface of calm simmers the cauldron of war.
The unfortunate long history of farmer-herder clashes, local-migrant communities have now been further complicated by criminal activities by elements alleged to be itinerant Fulani herdsmen or those closely associated with them, some of whom are non-citizens of Nigeria. The frequency and severity of this recidivist violent criminality points to a failure of political leadership in the country and of our security agencies to address the deeper issues of law and order, and the security of ordinary citizens.
Regrettably the reaction of the Presidency to the herders/farmers crises has consistently fallen short of the impartiality, responsibility and empathy that is expected of an administration that serves the whole country, and has fuelled fears of official complicity, tacit encouragement of criminal elements and their public defenders. The failure to interdict these criminal elements, bandits, insurgents, marauding Fulani herdsmen and kidnappers, has significantly polarised the country and turned Nigeria into a theatre of violence while undermining the confidence of average Nigerians in the willingness and ability of the State to protect them.
True peace will only come with justice. Justice cannot be achieved if our political elite do not have the best interest of the nation at heart. It is shocking that the clamour of the people for a restructured equitable country have gone largely unheeded by the country’s lawmakers who seem to serve at their own pleasure despite it being on the ruling party’s election manifesto. We warn that the inaction of today may take this country down a dark and destructive path. In this looming catastrophe, the political elite will be equally affected.
We condemn in its entirety the destruction of properties in Igangan, and the spate of criminality preceding that, and call on security agents to apprehend all the perpetrators to make them face the full wrath of the law. We also condemn the killings of security agents and civilians in Orlu and similarly call for the prosecution of all those involved while ensuring the root causes are addressed.
We commend the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) for its swift meeting to find an immediate amicable solution to the perennial farmers/herders conflict, as well as Governor Hope Uzodima for imposing a curfew in Orlu to restore order.
Beyond this however, we find it compelling to reiterate our earlier stand that President Muhammadu Buhari needs to be alive to his responsibility as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and keep the country safe. The undisguised bias of the Presidency for the Fulani herdsmen, and their megaphone, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), has emboldened criminal elements within their ranks to unleash violence, putting the country on edge. His lethargic attitude to issues bordering on security has greatly dampened the morale of the Nigerian Armed Forces and its commanders who would only be as effective as the President wants them to be.
We urge the Executive and Legislative arms of government to recognize the dire situation of the country and stop the barmy party posturing. Elected representatives of the people must have the political will to eschew ethnic considerations and restructure this country into one where justice, egalitarian values and fairness are the bedrock.
We cannot but notice the impunity shown by the apparent violation of the July 2, 2013 judgement of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which stated that it was mandatory for the President to obtain the confirmation of the National Assembly for the appointment of the Service Chiefs.
This illegality casts a shadow over the legitimacy of the newly announced Service Chiefs and underpins a worrisome culture of impunity at the level of the Presidency. Considering the imperative to ensure that the Nigerian Armed Forces receive the broad-based support required to face the daunting security challenges presented across the nation, we advise the President to immediately approach the National Assembly in obedience to subsisting court orders, to correct these illegal appointments.
Properly appointing the new Service Chiefs according to law presents them with the opportunity to reinvigorate the war against terror and liberate Nigerians from incendiary threats across the country. Once ratified, it is noteworthy to task them to display professionalism and competence in tackling insecurity in the country by halting the gale of impunity within and restoring the confidence of Nigerians.
We call on Nigerians to resist all incentives to start any ethnic strife. Poverty and bad governance affects every tribe and tongue equally. We must, as citizens shake off these ethnic chains and ask our leaders to be accountable.
The red flags of a failed state are glaring in the security quandary we have found ourselves as a nation. Now is the time to stop the drift.