NLC, Afenifere, MASSOB warn on dangerous consequences .
Organised labour has, however, warned that the incessant attacks on communities by Fulani herdsmen across the country have the capacity to plunge the country into a worse security situation than the raging insurgency in the North-East if not tackled immediately.
The labour movement also berated security agencies for not living up to standard in securing the lives and property of Nigerians.
The General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, and the President of the Trade Union Congress, Mr. Bala Kaigama, made the comments in different telephone interviews with The PUNCH on Tuesday.
Ozo-Eson, who described the reported clashes between the Fulani herdsmen and their host communities as worrisome, urged the Federal Government to address, without delay, the factors responsible for the current migratory crisis.
Ozo-Eson believed that if land needed for grazing cattle was the issue, the Federal Government should address it quickly to stop such killings and destruction which were not recorded even in countries reputed to be major exporters of meat.
He said, “It is worrisome, we think whatever the push factors are that are leading to this situation need to be dealt with very quickly because we are trying to get out of a major security situation, the insurgency in the North-East.
“And if we allow a situation, in which these clashes allegedly between Fulani herdsmen and various communities and farmers to continue this way, we could actually have a more serious security threat on our hands than even the North-East situation because this is becoming a reoccurring issue across the country.
“There are clashes in Benue, the South-West, South-East, Enugu now, and various other places that are not even reported.
“So, I think that government needs to take this very seriously and do something quickly either by promoting a culture of ranches or whatever other interventions so that these clashes can be avoided.”
He challenged security agencies to ensure that those behind the killings and destruction of property were brought to book in a transparent manner as that remained the only way to earn the confidence of the people.
The TUC boss said, “The performance of the security agencies is below our satisfaction because the security agencies are supposed to wake up to their responsibilities and provide security for Nigerians.
“We cannot go into jungle justice. That is why we are holding the government responsible so that it will not degenerate. We cannot tolerate a situation where innocent souls are being killed like fowls. Government should know that life and property are its duty to protect.”
In a similar vein, the Afenifere has faulted the silence of President Muhammadu Buhari and the state governors on the attacks of Fulani herdsmen on farmers across the country in the recent time.
This was contained in the communique issued at the end of the monthly meeting of the association, held at the home of its leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, in Akure, the Ondo State capital, on Tuesday.
In the communiqué, read by the Publicity Secretary of the association, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, Afenifere said the Federal Government had a duty to protect the lives and property of the citizens of the country.
The association added, “We are worried that Federal Government seems to have maintained indifference to the wanton killings going on across the country against the provisions of the constitution.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to speak up on this matter and take urgent action to restore the security of the people of Nigeria, especially in the South and Middle Belt.”
The group also asked the state governments and members of the National Assembly to speak out on the matter before it got out control.
“We also reject the statement of the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, that the Federal Government is working silently on this matter. Several killings cannot be going on and the Federal Government working silently.
“It is unfortunate that that statement is coming from the Federal Government of Nigeria. There can’t be any silent working over these killings and the action of the Federal Government must be open,” Afenifere stated.
In its reaction, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra warned that the herdsmen would no longer be allowed to get away with the destruction of lives and property in the South-East.
MASSOB National Director of Information, Mr. Samuel Edeson, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said, “We condemn the attack on helpless villagers by heavily armed Fulani herdsmen.
“The destruction of lives and property by herdsmen has got out of hand even though we are peace loving people, we cannot allow this to continue in Igboland.”
In the same vein, the Enugu State Chapter of the Social Democratic Party said the Federal Government must speak out to condemn the activities of the herdsmen.
“We call on the Federal Government to speak out against the brazen and atrocious killing of innocent villagers by herdsmen; the Presidency has been silent on this matter for a long time now. The silence seems to be given impetus to the herdsmen.
“We urge the government to condemn the murderous invasion of communities in the strongest terms, and as interim measures, halt the movement of herdsmen from the North to the South until a permanent solution is worked out,” the state chairman of the SDP, Mr. John Nwobodo, said.
Meanwhile, the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 11, Mrs. Kalafite Adeyemi, has advised farmers to always report the destruction of their farms and other atrocities of herdsmen to the police.
The AIG said this while speaking in an interview with journalists during her visit to Kunnike International School, Osogbo, Osun State, on Tuesday.
Adeyemi, who expressed surprise at the facilities in the private school, said the police had ensured that compensation was paid to some farmers, whose farms were destroyed by herdsmen, saying resorting to self-help would worsen the crisis.
The AIG added, “We can reduce the attacks. Those whose farms are destroyed should report to the police. Some of the herdsmen were made to pay damages in the past.”
She stated that the police had been talking to farmers and to the herdsmen to ensure that there were no clashes any more.