The Nigerian army said it has launched a military exercise, “Operation Accord”, to deal with killer herdsmen that have continued to cause mayhem in the southern part of Kaduna State and other communities across the country.
According to Acting Director of Information, Defence Headquarters, Brig-Gen Rabe Abubakar, said the purpose of Operation Accord was to the check illegalities being carried out by some herdsmen.
He further explained that Operation Accord would be a mitigating instrument against the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
“Anytime from now, it will become operational and the issues of herdsmen going about killing innocent citizens will be a thing of the past,” he said.
The military’s response is coming about two weeks after the crisis in Goska and numerous other towns, communities and villages in Southern Kaduna.
On Christmas Eve, despite a three day government curfew, suspected Fulani herdsmen attacked the communities. According to various accounts in the media, scores were killed and their homes, farms, properties, and places of worship were burnt to the ground.
The attacks, it was learnt, was a “revenge mission” by the herdsmen for the killing of two of their kinsmen who were on their way to Kafanchan and were ambushed by irate youth of Mararaba Kagoro.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) alleged that 808 people died in the latest crisis and although Inspector General Police Ibrahim Idris disagreed, not a single person has been arrested in relations to the crises as at the time of writing.
Ever since the incident, President Muhammadu Buhari has been under heavy fire from Nigerians over what many termed as his silence on the issue.
Remarks by his special adviser on public affairs, Femi Adesina, that the president could not “comment on everything”, especially as Gov. El-Rufai had handled the crisis properly, infuriated Nigerians even more.
A former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, slammed the President’s silence, saying it was akin to the impression that former President Goodluck Jonathan allegedly failed to react when Boko Haram insurgents were unleashing terror on the land.
The former Catholic Archbishop of Lagos in an article titled, ‘The Wisdom of the Sultan” said:
“In his inaugural address on May 29, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari said inter alia, ‘Boko Haram is a typical example of small fires causing large fires. Through official bungling, negligence, complacency or collusion, Boko Haram became a terrifying force taking tens of thousands of lives and capturing several towns and villages covering swathes of Nigerian sovereign territory.’
“While those remarks represent a pointed reference to what had been perceived as abdication of responsibility on the part of the administration of his predecessor, former President Goodluck Jonathan, the ceaseless silence of President Buhari on the banditry of herdsmen represents a sad reminder of the negligence he so eloquently disparaged.”
Simon Aranbu, member of the House of Representatives representing Kauru Federal Constituency of Kaduna State observed that the long silence of the federal government over the matter is very worrisome.
His counterpart, representing Kagarko/ Kachia Federal Constituency, Jagaba Adams Jagaba, speaking in the same vein, called on both the state and the federal governments to step up actions towards ending the killings in the Southern Kaduna.
Jagaba said in an interview with www.icirnigeria.org that apart from the killing of 46 people in Kauru council area during the December 24 attacks, several communities are being attacked on daily basis, a situation that had led to the killing of many people.
Jagaba, called on the government to end the killings just the way it tackled cattle rustling, adding: “Cows cannot be better than human lives. There is failure of government from top to bottom in tackling the killings in Southern Kaduna.
“If something happens in the northern part of the state, government will act fast. But when it happens in Southern Kaduna, the government turns its eyes the other way. The government must act fast to tame these killings if it does not want the people.”
Although the President finally commented on the issues few days back when he approved the deployment of troops to the area, many are of the opinion that development was too late in the day to affect anything.
They have also been called for the establishment of a military base in the area. Stakeholders are of the view that beyond Operation Accord, a military base in any part of Southern Kaduna will permanently dissuade any violent element from carrying out attacks in the future.
The President has also been called upon to order an effective investigation into the circumstances surrounding the killings and to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice, and to provide reparations to victims.
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