President Muhammadu Buhari has accused powerful individuals of masterminding the lingering conflicts between farmers and herdsmen in parts of the country.
Speaking during a visit to Zamfara state in continuation of his tour of states affected by violence and bloodletting, he pledged to address the security challenges in Zamfara state before the commencement of this year’s rainy season.
The President however harped on the need to review the old arrangement that provided for both cattle ranches and grazing routes, pointing out that this had guaranteed harmonious relationship between farmers and herdsmen, where differences were amicably resolved through the law.
He challenged security agencies to improve their strategies of intelligence gathering, surveillance and accuracy in deployments, to ensure that criminal activities are brought to an end across the country.
Accompanied by the host governor, Abdul’aziz Yari, at an interactive meeting with political leaders, traditional rulers, elders and victims of criminal attacks at the Government House in Gusau, Buhari said he had ordered massive redeployment of police officers to Zamfara with a view to addressing security challenges in the state.
According to him, “Your governor knows on how I have been in touch with the Inspector-General to redeploy a number of police officers and to reinforce those available.
“Of course, I spoke to the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Defence Staff and in their exercise they have made some success, but to me they need to do much more, especially the police. In every town at least there is a police station.
“They are not given uniform and the rifle just to impress anybody but they are supposed to be sending intelligence and warning that something is about to happen.
“I don’t think I will say much about the armed forces but I will like to notice and make sure that there will be improvement before the rainy season,” he said.
Buhari, according to a statement by his special adviser on media, Femi Adesina, assured all security agencies of improved conditions that would facilitate the arrest of criminals that steal, maim and kill innocent Nigerians.
“As far as I am concerned, our security agencies have recorded some successes, but they need to do much more. They are not to oppress anyone, but they have to gather and send intelligence and warnings when something is about to happen,’’ he said.
The President commended the security agencies for eliminating a dreadful criminal, ‘Buhari General’, who had for many years initiated killings and destruction of properties.
“Before ‘Buharin-daji’ who calls himself a general, there was a criminal who killed many people and he was killed; ‘Buharin–daji’ has followed him and others like them should also follow,’’ he added.
Buhari urged the security agencies and communities to always work in collaboration, noting that the threats to life and property of Nigerians would be significantly reduced with improved relations among community leaders, citizens and the security agencies.
“I have come here to commiserate with you over the loss of lives and properties. We will continue to do our best to improve the security situation. However, those committing atrocities live with you. Some of these people are not reported because you don’t trust the security outfits, instead you report back to the criminals. We should give priority to security,’’ he said.
The President warned that the ongoing war against corruption would be reinvigorated and sustained until public officers, who abuse their positions, face the wrath of the law.
He told the elders and traditional rulers that properties confiscated by security outfits from some suspected corrupt public officials would be sold after the completion of court procedures.
Buhari advised Nigerians to take advantage of the ongoing reforms in the agricultural sector, pointing that the era of depending on oil will one day come to an end.
In his remarks, Governor Yari, who is also the chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum, said the state government had deployed resources that were initially designated for development into fighting criminal activities.
While commending security agencies for working hard to safeguard the state, he urged the federal government to improve funding of operations, increase the number of security men working in the state and reimburse the state for monies spent on some federal government projects, like roads, which he said was a major priority in fighting criminals.
The governor called for additional deployment of security personnel to the state to check incessant cases of armed banditry across 13 out of the 14 local government areas of the state.
Also speaking, Secretary to the Zamfara state government, Prof Abdullahi Shinkafi, identified the three major criminal challenges facing the state as cattle rustling, armed banditry and kidnap-for-ransom.
Reeling out statistics, Shinkafi disclosed that 1,321 persons had been killed and 1,881 people injured from various attacks since 2011, with about N14 billion spent on fighting the menace.
The traditional rulers, elders and leaders of the affected communities also pleaded with the government to ensure immediate security intervention in order to save lives in the state.