President Muhammadu Buhari has observed that crisis on the Mambilla Plateau in Taraba State had claimed more lives than that of the herdsmen killings in Benue and Zamfara states, directing that any Fulani man found in possession of AK-47 rifles should be charged to court.
He stated this on Monday at the Government House in Jalingo, the Taraba state capital, during a visit to the state to commiserate with people that lost loved ones in the wake of violence that recently engulfed the area. In the meeting which lasted about two hours, Buhari called on the traditional rulers to find ways of resolving the crisis in the state
While decrying the lack of oneness and inability of the people to live together in peace as brothers and sisters, Buhari stated that “any Fulani man caught with AK-47 should be charged to court”.
He said his reason to visit Taraba State first was informed by the large-scale killing at Mambila Plateau which he described as more than the number of those killed in Benue and Zamfara states.
The President disclosed that he will soon embark on the same visit to Zamfara and Benue states, also to condole with those who lost their loved ones.
He charged traditional rulers in the state to go to their chiefdoms and preach peace among their subjects for peaceful coexistence among people.
Buhari said royal fathers in Nigeria were the main landlords, while politicians like himself as the President and Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State were visitors who might not stay on their seats for ever.
“Governor Darius Ishaku and I are here temporarily. We will go at the end of our tenure, but you are permanent with the people at the grass roots.
“So, I charge you to go back and find ways of resolving the crises in your domains. Go and give your people justice for peace to reign.
“When I was campaigning, I came here and promised to provide security, boost the economy and fight corruption.
“Today, even our worst enemy can attest to the fact that the APC-led Federal Government has done well in the area of security. We have decimated Boko Haram, while the fight against corruption is going on well.
“I can only appeal to the conscience of the people for them to embrace peace and live with one another in harmony so that there could be development and not destruction.
“As a President, I have sources of getting intelligence on happening across the country and so I should not be expected to always go out to the field to make noise and insult the sensibility of Nigerians before it would be known that I am taking actions against the killings.
“There were more killings in Mambilla than Benue and Zamfara states. I chose to visit Taraba first, but I will be going to Benue and Zamfara after I return from Ghana to also condole with the people,” he said.
Representatives of Yandan, Fulani and Mambila tribes who were allowed to speak on the occasion, called on the President to instill justice in the land for the people to live in peace.
Speaking earlier, the Taraba State governor, Darius Ishaku, appreciated the President for finding time to visit the state for condolences.
He stated that the crisis in the state had hindered speedy development which the state government initially initiated.
Ishaku pleaded with the President to mobilize more security personnel in the state to forestall further crisis among the people.
Meanwhile, the Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, has described President Buhari’s visit to Taraba and planned visit to Benue, Zamfara, Yobe and Rivers states, which have recorded different forms of killings this year, as an afterthought.
He stated that the President is more concerned about his re-election in 2019 and his visit to those states is to seek votes and not to sympathise with the people.
Fayose likened Buhari to a selfish king who went on making merry while his people were in agony only to show up when the people had already buried their loved ones that were gruesomely murdered, got over their anguish and moved on with their lives.
The governor, in a statement on Monday by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, said it was the height of cruelty that the same President, who promised to lead from the front in the fight against Boko Haram, could not visit Dapchi, Yobe State, where 110 schoolgirls were abducted by insurgents, but went on merry making in Kano.
“On January 9 and 12, this year, 83 victims of herdsmen attacks were given mass burial in Taraba State. Also on January 11, 2018, another 73 persons were killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Benue State were buried in a mass grave in Makurdi, the state capital.
“In Taraba and Benue states alone, 161 Nigerians were given mass burial within three days! This never caught the attention of our President. Rather, it was a visit to Nasarawa, a neighbouring state to Benue that was important to him.
“Apparently, it was the negative reactions of Nigerians, especially on Social Media and the effects on the President’s re-election bid that necessitated his hurried visit to Taraba State today; and planned visits to Benue, Zamfara, Yobe and Rivers states,” he said.
While declaring the visits as belated and an afterthought, Fayose said Nigerians could no longer be deceived by a president who never cared for them when they needed him most.
According to him, “no amount of hurriedly organised campaign visits will sway the people who never saw the president to protect them from being killed”.