By Akanimo Sampson
In Nigeria, it appears the worrisome killings by herdsmen is a political weapon by some entrenched circles to coerce some sections of the country to play ball.
Presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, an influential political figure in Nigeria, and a Fulani who knows better, has said killings by herdsmen will continue unless President Muhammadu Buhari was voted out of office next year
According to Wikipedia, political violence ‘’is violence perpetrated by people or governments to achieve political goals. It can describe violence used by a state against other states (war) or against non-state actors (e.g. police brutality, counter-insurgency, genocide).
‘’It can also describe politically-motivated violence by non-state actors against a state (like those in the Middle-Belt and some of the states of Ndigbo in Eastern Nigeria) or against other non-state actors. Non-action on the part of a government can also be characterised as a form of political violence, such as refusing to alleviate famine or otherwise denying resources to politically identifiable groups within their territory.
‘’Due to the imbalances of power between state and non-state actors, political violence often takes the form of asynchronous warfare where neither side is able to directly assault the other, instead relying on tactics such as terrorism and guerrilla warfare, and often include attacks on civilian or otherwise non-combatant targets that are perceived as a proxy for the opposing faction.’’
Not yet done, Wikipedia added that many groups and individuals believe that their political systems will never respond to their demands and thus believe that violence is not only justified but also necessary in order to achieve their political objectives.
‘’Similarly, many governments around the world believe they need to use violence in order to intimidate their populace into acquiescence. At other times, governments use force in order to defend their country from outside invasion or other threats of force and to coerce other governments or conquer territory’’, the free encyclopedia said.
Before the Atiku claim which was made on Tuesday, a global human rights group, Amnesty International, had on Monday stated that President Muhammadu Buhari/All Progressives Congress (APC) administration’s failures fuel escalating conflict between farmers and herders as death toll nears 4,000.
For Amnesty International, ‘’the Nigerian authorities’ failure to investigate communal clashes and bring perpetrators to justice has fuelled a bloody escalation in the conflict between farmers and herders across the country, resulting in at least 3,641 deaths in the past three years and the displacement of thousands more.
‘’The government has displayed what can only be described as gross incompetence and has failed in its duty to protect the lives of its population and end the intensifying conflict between herders and farmers. The authorities’ lethargy has allowed impunity to flourish and the killings to spread to many parts of the country, inflicting greater suffering on communities who already live in constant fear of the next attack’’.
Nigeria’s Director of the group. Osai Ojigho, who said these also added, ‘’our research shows that these attacks were well planned and coordinated, with the use of weapons like machine guns and AK-47 rifles. Yet, little has been done by the authorities in terms of prevention, arrests and prosecutions, even when information about the suspected perpetrators was available.”
But the Nigerian Army has not been happy with this. The obviously angry Army said the country’s wing of the global rights group which hitherto has been well respected ‘’has deviated from the core values, principles and objectives of the original Amnesty International domiciled in the United Kingdom.’’ The Army said so on their Twitter Page.
Atiku, who was former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s deputy (1999-2007) however, spoke while reacting to Amnesty International’s report on herdsmen/farmers’ clashes which indicted the Federal Government for failing to stop the killing of 3,641 Nigerians by herdsmen in the last three years.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu, the former Vice- President described the Presidency’s response to the report as ‘’tepid’’, adding, ‘’unless Nigerians vote out the APC administration, killings by herdsmen will continue and ultimately spark series of ethno-religious crises that will be irreversible.
‘’It is now very clear, like Amnesty International said in its report, that the federal government under President Buhari has displayed gross incompetence and has failed in its duty to protect the lives of its people who have witnessed many preventable deaths. This situation has put the nation on the verge of disintegration.’’
Continuing, Atiku who has promised to bring more younger persons into governance if he wins the presidential poll in 2019, said the central government lacked the capacity to stop the security challenges confronting the country which he claimed had left thousands of citizens either killed or maimed.
‘’The killings are scaring away foreign investors. After every attack, either by herdsmen or by kidnappers, the government will vow to get the culprits and punish them. Then more deaths will occur and the government will repeat its vow. This is not reassuring to the people of Nigeria as well as foreigners who may want to do business in the country’’, he said.
The PDP presidential candidate said it was now clear that in spite of their best efforts, Buhari and his party, the APC, cannot stop the herdsmen and other ‘’criminal elements’’ currently terrorising the country, adding, ‘’it is frightening that the Buhari administration is not doing anything in the face of the World Bank’s report that claims that Nigeria will soon become the world capital of underage deaths.’’