The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, has stated that it is “very unkind” to say that herdsmen are emboldened to carry out murderous raids on farming communities because President Muhammadu Buhari is Fulani.
He stated that violent clashes between herdsmen and rural communities had been existed long before his principal became president, insisting that the issue is “pure criminality” and has nothing to do with the tribe of the President in power.
In a video posted on his Facebook page on Wednesday, Adesina pointed out that 756 people were killed in herdsmen attacks between 2013 and May 2015 when Goodluck Jonathan was president.
Suspected Fulani herdsmen had in the New Year attacked two Benue communities killing about 70 persons. This prompted President Buhari to order the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to relocate to the state to restore law and order in the communities affected by the recent herdsmen attacks and to also prevent the crisis from escalating and spreading to other parts of the state.
Same time, at least 55 people were said to have been killed in a recent attack on Lau local government area of Taraba state. The Nigerian Army has also deployed Special Forces to Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa states amid tensions of attacks on communities in the states.
The deployment of the troops was to restore peace in attacked communities and secure vulnerable communities in the states from further raid.
Stressing that his principal is determined to “crack this issue”, the presidential spokesman noted it is the responsibility of government to preserve the lives of the citizenry as well as maintain law and order in the country.
He said: “Something that is disturbing that I have heard about it is linking those developments to the fact that a Fulani man is president and so, he is brooking such kind of evil acts.
“I think that is very unkind. And I will try to back my position with statistics.
“In 2013, particularly, there were nine cases of herdsmen invading communities in Benue state alone and more than 190 people were killed.
“In 2014, there were about 16 of such tragic developments with more than 231 people killed. And then there was a change of government in May 2015. But between January and May 2015, there were six attacks which left about 335 people dead.
“Now, the question is, during that period, did we have a Fulani president?
“This is showing us that the issue of herdsmen attacking settlements, attacking farmers, attacking communities is pure criminality and it is something that government must deal with.
“It is the duty of government to preserve the lives of the citizenry. It is the responsibility of government to maintain law and order and that this government is determined to do.
“Therefore, let nobody say that all this is happening because we have a Fulani president.
“We have had many Fulani presidents in the past and this issue of herders and local communities at loggerheads has predated this government.
“But I will just like to appeal to Nigerians that the Muhammadu Buhari government is determined to crack this issue, is determined to get to the bottom of it and it will get done.”