President Buhari blames police for Benue killings
President Muhammdu Buhari has blamed Nigeria’s Inspector general of police for the killings of mostly Christian farmers in Benue by Fulani cattle herdsmen.
Speaking during a visit, on Monday 12 March, to Benue State where nearly 100 people were killed by the herdsmen, the president said he ordered the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to relocate to the state to stop the killings: “But I did not know that the Inspector did not stay in the state. I am getting to know this at this meeting. I am quite surprised.”
What the president didn’t say was how he would stop the carnage and destruction of lives in the middle belt region by Islamic cattle herdsmen.
His visit, critics observes, is testing the waters for a declaration to run for a second tenure in office more than concern for human lives. The president said: “I have friends here. There is no way I can deliberately overlook what is happening here and other parts of the country.”
President Buhari’s visit which met with protests and boycotts of his public appearances by many people in the state, said he hoped that predominantly Christian farmers would coexist with the Islamic Fulani herdsmen peacefully.
“Let me appeal to our people to apply more restraints. The relationship between farmers and herders will continue; it behoves us to keep encouraging ourselves to live together peacefully,” Buhari said.
The Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom told the president that “Sixty-five more people have been killed after the mass burial of 73 persons; 26 more were killed in Okpokwu with over 5,000 displaced in Mbatoho community.”
“As of now, 170,000 people live in IDP camps across the state. Sixty per cent of IDPs are school children who should be in school. Yesterday (Sunday), two police officers were killed in Guma. Our appeal is that the Federal Government should compensate the people who have been displaced.” Ortom said.
This appeal was backed by the state Chairman of the state Christian Association of Nigeria, Akpen Leva, who demanded compensation for over 500 churches burnt by the Islamic Fulani herdsmen.
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos