Femi Falana, lawyer and rights activist, says the federal government is “chasing shadows” by setting up a committee on the herdsmen killings in the country.
On Thursday, the national economic council (NEC) headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo constituted a 10-man working committee, including nine governors, to address the killings.
But Falana disagreed with the council on the move. He said the current administration has been aware of the herdsmen crisis even before its inception, and had promised to tackle it during its electioneering campaign.
“With respect to the national economic council, I think we busy chasing the shadows as a people,” he said.
“The government is parading Nigerians as a bunch of jokers. It is not rocket science to solve this problem. And I am bothered when leaders come out to make statements that give the impression that we are either out to cover up serious criminality
“We don’t want a committee for heaven’s sake! A committee to do what? To go and find out how many people have been killed? Or to establish the fact that we have been in this problem for five years running and nobody is addressing the problem… the committee is just to deceive Nigerians.”
Quoting the Global Terrorism Index, the lawyer listed the number of people who have died in the crisis over the years.
“In 2014, we lost about 1,300 people. Between 2013 and 2016, 1,800 people were killed in Benue state alone. And this government knew this problem before it came on board; it was part of its campaign,” he said.
“And this government, upon its inauguration, has repeatedly maintained, and quite correctly, that the only solution to the incessant violent clashes between herdsmen and farmers is to establish ranches in the country.”
The activist also took a swipe at Audu Ogbeh, minister of agriculture, for proposing the establishing of “cattle colonies”.
He said Ogbeh is talking about cattle colonies “to confuse Nigerians”.
He added: “According to him (Ogbeh), the colonies will mean a group of ranches. Why are you using such word as if you are giving the impression in a tensed atmosphere that you want to colonise certain parts so the country. It is so nonsensical. Government has to take Nigerians seriously.”
‘BUHARI GIVING THE IMPRESSION THAT NIGERIAN STATE HAS COLLAPSED’
“Since the colonial regime, this is the first time in the history of our country that any group is going about terrorising people with AK-47. And they have not been crushed. The Buhari administration declared a war on insecurity in the country.
“He prides himself as having successfully, to a large extent, tamed terrorism in the north-east. He crushed IPOB, a war has been waged against the militants. So, why are these guys allowed to go around killing people? You are just simply giving the impression that the Nigerian state has collapsed.”