The Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) has criticized a Nasarawa State senator, Abdullahi Adamu, over his comments on government land ownership and herdsmen terrorism.
In a statement Wednesday, the ARG warned the Federal Government to handle the raging herdsmen clashes and attacks on communities with utmost sensitivity and justice.
Kunle Famoriyo, ARG’s Publicity Secretary, said the group had just concluded a report based on a research into the herdsmen-farmers clashes, which will be forwarded to the Federal Government and National Assembly, adding that hardly was there a state in Nigeria, particularly, the 17 southern states, that had good tales about herdsmen’s activities.
“Sadly, parochial and irresponsible statements, like Adamu’s, is the latest in a series of media reports in which herdsmen were absolved of their crimes against host communities and their demands advanced as of absolute rights,” Mr. Famoriyo said.
Mr. Adamu, who spoke at a public hearing organized by the Joint Senate Committees on Agriculture and Rural Development and National Security and Intelligence on Tuesday, had said the nation’s Constitution guarantees freedom of movement and rights of Nigerians to live in any part of the country.
The senator was responding to participants who had opposed the idea of grazing reserve routes.
“Nobody can stop the government from acquiring land anywhere in Nigeria. Government is government. If anybody thinks he is violent, government has monopoly of violence,” Mr. Adamu (APC, Nasarawa West) had said.
The ARG deplored the statement and cautioned government officials and political officers to be sensitive to the plight of victims of herdsmen’s terror by guarding their utterances.
The group said it was shocked by the Federal Government’s claim that the herdsmen are foreigners and Boko Haram insurgents when there were verifiable data and reports showing that herdsmen terror predates Boko Haram insurgency.
“Some reports dated as far back as the early 90s in parts of Oke-Ogun in Oyo State, where many farmers, for inexplicable reasons, have spent months in police detention in Abuja just because they protested the invasion of their farmlands by cows, led there by herdsmen,” Mr. Famoriyo said.
“Herdsmen have been labeled as militants in the Global Terrorism Index2015 – due to their violent acts on defenseless Nigerians in agrarian communities, without any commensurate response from the security agencies.
“If indeed they are foreigners, it is the duty of Inspector General of Police and other security agencies to ensure that non-Nigerians are denied the opportunity of making unlawful incursion into the country, irrespective of any affiliation, religious or political, that they may have with any part of Nigeria.”
The statement noted that Nigerians are now aware that the proliferation of armed herdsmen indicates the potential of a people preparing to subjugate others.
“Rather than assuage this fear by crushing the armed herdsmen, it is shocking that government’s priority is to implement reforms that apparently favours them,” the statement continued.
“Herdsmen, like any people, entrepreneurs, and traders in Nigeria, should be free to live anywhere. However, if they need land for grazing, they should acquire it the same way other Nigerians [and foreigners] acquire land to live and operate their ventures – whilst they peacefully integrate into the host communities.”
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