Noble laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka on Wednesday decried the massacre of innocent Nigerians by herdsmen, who he said have declared war against the country and are depopulating villages.
He noted, in a statement, that the activities of the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, did not exhibit close to the “homicidal propensity” of the cattle rearers before the former was proscribed as a terrorist organisation.
While wondering why the federal government had not considered suggestions proffered by stakeholders as solution to the clashes, Soyinka warned President Muhammadu Buhari against treating attacks by herdsmen same way his predecessor acted at the early stage of the Boko Haram crisis.
He recalled that after “a hideous massacre” perpetrated by the herdsmen in 2016, a security meeting was called and the cattle rearers “attended the meeting — according to reports — with AK47s and other weapons of mass intimidation visible under their garments”.
The revered playwright said, “they were neither disarmed nor turned back. They freely admitted the killings but justified them by claims that they had lost their cattle to the host community.
“Such are the monstrous beginnings of the culture of impunity. We are reaping, yet again, the consequences of such tolerance of the intolerable. Yes, there indeed the government is culpable, definitely guilty of ‘looking the other way’. Indeed, it must be held complicit.
“I am not aware that IPOB came anywhere close to this homicidal propensity and will to dominance before it was declared a terrorist organization.
“The international community rightly refused to go along with such an absurdity. The conduct of that movement, even at its most extreme, could by no means be reckoned as terrorism. By contrast, how do we categorize Myeti?”
Reacting to the justification by herders that they kill in retaliation for their stolen cows, Soyinka wondered: “How do we assess a mental state that cannot distinguish between a stolen cow – which is always recoverable – and human life, which is not.
“Villages have been depopulated far wider than those outside their operational zones can conceive. They swoop on sleeping settlements, kill and strut. They glory in their seeming supremacy.”