The Presidency on Sunday said it was in possession of evidence to prove that some politicians were behind the killings allegedly being carried out by herdsmen in parts of the country.
It said the unnamed politicians were using criminals to perpetuate the killings.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this in a statement in Abuja.
Shehu however said climate change, especially the drying up of the Chad Basin, had also been compounding the problem.
He said the climate change, which he described as an issue of global significance, had led to more pressure on the population in the North.
The presidential spokesman however assured stakeholders that the government was determined to continue to work hard towards a long-term solution to the problem which he described as historical.
Shehu also appealed to Nigerians and members of the international community to desist from spreading false information and inflammatory statements concerning the issue.
He said the Federal Government, with the state governments, security agencies and international community should collaborate with a view to resolving the problem.
The statement read, “The Presidency is appealing to all its citizens as well as members of the international community to refrain from spreading false stories and inflammatory statements concerning the recent herders-farmers’ clashes.
“The Nigerian government is working closely with state governments and the security services – as well as international partners – in order to resolve this ongoing issue.
“The clashes between herders and farmers are historical. The causes of these confrontations are varied and complex.
“Climate change, specifically the drying up of the Chad Basin, has led to more pressure on the population in the North of Nigeria, which further compounded the problem.
“As President Buhari indicated lately, there is evidence of involvement of some politicians using criminals to perpetuate the killings.
“Climate change is an issue of global significance and the Nigerian government is determined to continue working closely with its neighbours in order to ensure that a long-term solution can be implemented.
“The Federal Government makes no distinction amongst the population and works tirelessly to protect all Nigerian people. We are strongest as a nation when we are united and it is through unity that we will overcome this challenge.”
Claim is sign Presidency suffering from pre-defeat trauma – PDP
But the Peoples Democratic Party in reacting to Presidency’s claim, said the All Progressives Congress was on the throes of death and that its panic-stricken leadership had resorted to fabrications and cheap blackmail against those leaving the party’s alleged sinking ship in droves.
The PDP said that both the Presidency and the APC were suffering from what it described as “pre-defeat trauma ahead of the 2019 elections.”
It said the APC, which it called shattered, and the Presidency, had become what it described as intensely nervous and chaotic over the soaring popularity of the PDP, adding that the ruling party was not comfortable with the desire of many Nigerians to join the former ruling party.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said the PDP was not surprised “that the APC, out of frustration, has recourse to sponsoring of spurious publications filled with deceptions, fabrications and lies against the PDP.”
He added, “The APC is particularly unsettled by the huge successes recorded by the Liyel Imoke-led PDP Contact and Integration Committee, in seamlessly galvanizing alliances among stakeholders across other parties, including those returning from the overtly dysfunctional and derelict APC.
“The APC is further disconcerted by the spirit of accommodation, agreement and oneness of purpose that pervade the alliances among old, new and returning members of the PDP in our key structure across all the states of the federation, particularly in Sokoto, Kogi, Kwara and Kano states, where all new and returning members have been accorded very warm reception.
“We know that the APC will stop at nothing in its sneaky efforts to cause confusion among our members, including suggesting that there are disagreements where none exists.
“What the APC, in its depravity and desperation, has failed to note is that the PDP had, since its repositioning, made adequate arrangements, ahead of time, to accommodate all interests and alignments in this collective quest to rescue our nation from the misrule of President Muhammadu Buhari, come 2019.
Ologbondiyan called on the APC leaders and the Presidency to further accept the fact that their party “is now beleaguered with a demystified and unpopular presidential candidate and an unelected National Chairman who is overburdened by corruption allegations and as such can no longer produce a President that will be acceptable to majority of Nigerians.”
FG must prosecute merchants of death in Nigeria, says Falana
On his part, a human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), asked the Federal Government to fish out the killers and masterminds of the killings in some part of the country with a view to bringing them to justice.
To this end, the legal practitioner said he had gone to court to sue the Attorney- General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami and states’ attorneys general, in order for the court to compel them to prosecute all those behind the various killings in the country.
Falana stated this while speaking with journalists at Elizade University, Ilara Mokin, Ondo State where he delivered a lecture.
He said, “I already have a case in court seeking to compel the government to ensure that ranches are established around the country; happily now, the government has taken that decision.
“But with respect to the killings, I am suing the Attorney General of the Federation and the state Attorneys General with a view to compelling them to prosecute all the merchants of death in our country.
“Specifically, I want them (killers) charged with illegal possession of firearms because I have established that they have no licences to bear arms. We also want them charged with culpable homicide or murder, kidnapping, armed robbery and the like.
“ Because if we do not address the impunity with which these killings are carried out, we will not get to the end of them. This is the essence of that case, to challenge the government to be alert to its responsibilities.”
Meanwhile, the District Superintendent of Lokoja of The Apostolic Church, Pastor Issac Omohoro, has called on the President to reorganise the security architecture of the country as a way of putting an end to incessant killings in parts of the country.
Omohoro was speaking on Sunday shortly after his investiture as the seventh District Superintendent of the church in Lokoja.
He said that the call became necessary in view of the obvious failure of security agents to put a stop to the herdsmen/farmers’ clashes and the resultant harvest of deaths.
Plateau killings IDP figure hits 11,515, death toll 233 – Report
Meanwhile, the number of Internally Displaced Persons following the June 23 and 24 attacks on 15 communities in Plateau State villages has risen to 11,515.
An advocacy group, Stefanos Foundation, which gave the figure in its Fact-finding Report on Barkin-Ladi Attacks, 2018, said the 11, 515 IDPs were taking refuge in 13 locations in the state.
According to the foundation, a total of 233 persons were killed in the two-day attacks carried out by suspected Fulani herdsmen, while “those that are badly injured are hospitalised in various medical centres in Jos, with their families left to struggle with the hospital bills.”
The foundation, which said it received early warning messages from the various communities prior to the attacks and sent same to the government and security agencies, regretted that the attacks still took place.
Stefanos Foundation, in its 14-page report, said its Needs Assessment team deployed in the crisis area, observed that the affected areas were insecure and vulnerable to further attacks.
The fact-finding team, it said, gathered that “some of the communities attacked in the past have now been occupied by Fulani herdsmen.”
“From their records, over 40 villages have now been completely deserted in the Barkin Ladi and Riyom Local Government Areas as a result of continuous attacks.
“The locals, who are the inhabitants of these communities, have no hope of returning to their homes, rather, new houses belonging to the Fulani are now being sighted to be springing up in the deserted communities,” the foundation said.
The 14-page document titled, “Report of June 23 to 24 2018 attacks on 15 communities in the Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Bokkos and Mangu Local Government Areas of Plateau State, Nigeria,” was signed by the Programme Coordinator of SF, Mark Lipdo, and was obtained by The PUNCH on Sunday.
The team led by the Administrator of SF, Abraham Hassan, included Franco Majok and Joel Vandaspek (both from CSI, USA), who were in the country for a visit at the time of the recent killings in the four LGAs.
The report said, “Coordinated military-style attacks ravaged 15 communities in some LGAs of Plateau State from June 23 to June 24, 2018, which resulted to the death of 233 persons with many others injured and several properties destroyed while thousands of villagers were displaced.”
The six-man team, during its fact-finding mission, met with the victims (survivors) where they are now taking refuge in about 13 locations.
The report said, “These locations include CAC and ECWA in Bokkos, with 260 people; Geo-sciences complex in Anguldi, with 3, 061 people; Riyom Community Hall, with 300 people; RCC Fan, with 382 people; ECWA Lawuru, with 452 people; and St. John Viani, Barkin Ladi, with 1, 552 people.
“Others are COCIN RCC Heipang, with 3, 026 people; LCC Ban, with 820 people; COCIN Gasa, with 800 people; Karos Barkin- Ladi, with 132 people; LCC Rampiang, Mangu with 400 people and Dorowa Soho Primary School, with 360 people, bringing the total number of displaced to about 11, 515 IDPs.”
SF said its team spent some time talking with the victims to understand their stories and also prayed with them.
The team, which was able to provide a token of cash gifts to support the victims in the interim for their feeding, Lipdo said, also planned to mobilise more support in the shortest possible time in order to assist the victims.
Killings: MASSOB tells Igbo to boycott 2019 polls
However, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra urged the people of the South-East to boycott the 2019 elections as a result of the killings in some parts of the country.
MASSOB also described the promise of an Igbo presidency in 2023 by the APC as ridiculous, adding that an age-long plot by the political class would make it impossible for an Igbo man to emerge as the President of Nigeria.
The group’s National Director of Information, Mr. Sunday Okereafor, expressed dissatisfaction over the level of killings in the country, stating that the 2019 elections would not stop the slaughtering of innocent Nigerians.
Okereafor, who spoke with one of our correspondents in a telephone interview on Sunday, said that the politics of bitterness between the APC and the PDP would only increase the killings in the country.
He said, “The Igbo should not go to vote in the 2019 elections because of the killings in some parts of the country, especially Plateau and Benue. We don’t think the killings will stop now; you are going to see the PDP and the APC fighting each other.”
On the claim by the APC that voting for Buhari in the 2019 presidential poll would guarantee the Igbo the position of the President in 2023, Okereafor pointed out that even Igbo politicians were aware of the long-term plan not to allow any person from Igbo extraction to occupy Aso Rock.
He said, “Are we (Igbo) fools? Why would they want to deceive us with 2023 presidency? It (2023 presidency) is not possible. After the civil war, the political class printed naira. The word ‘Naira’ means Never Allow Igbo Rule Again.”
Ndigbo should accept Buhari’s Olive branch, says VON DG
But the Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, urged Ndigbo to accept the President’s promise to support an Igboman to become President, if the Igbo give him their votes in 2019.
Buhari had, at a rally in Owerri, Imo State, last week, promised to support Ndigbo to produce the country’s President at the ‘right time’ if the Igbo voted for him in the next election.
Speaking in Enugu on Sunday, Okechukwu, a chieftain of the APC, pleaded with Ndigbo to accept Buhari’s offer, which he described as an ‘Olive branch.’
Although Buhari did not specify the ‘right time,’ when he would back an Igboman to become President, the VON boss insisted that the said time was 2023.
But he was quick to stress that it would all depend on Igbo support for Buhari in 2019.
“The statement made by the SGF is a wake-up call and an Olive branch by President Buhari to Ndigbo. It means that if Ndigbo vote for Mr. President in 2019, the Presidency is for Ndigbo in 2023.
“This is the most pragmatic and fastest route to the emergence of a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction and hence enlistment of Ndigbo into the mainstream of Nigeria’s political landscape. It will automatically end long years’ sulk of marginalisation and fully integrate our dear country,” he said.
Buhari appears powerless to end killings – Anglican bishop
Meanwhile, the Bishop of Diocese of Akure, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Simeon Borokinni, has condemned the incessant killings by Fulani herdsmen in some parts of the country.
He said, “The government appears either powerless to curb their activities or deliberately, purposely and intentionally indifferent. Why is dealing with the herdsmen a difficult task for the government? Government must disarm these murderous herdsmen. It should, therefore, not be allowed to degenerate any further in the interest of all.”
Borokini stated this on Sunday in his charge at the 3rd Session of the 12th Synod at St. Thomas’ Anglican Church, Akure, the Ondo State capital. The theme of the synod is, “Working towards perfection.”
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