President Muhammadu Buhari has flayed the reported cases of ethnic violence across the country, saying his government will protect all religious and ethnic groups in line with the provisions of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

Buhari, in a statement last night by his media aide, Malam Garba Shehu, vowed that his government will protect all religious and ethnic groups, whether majority or minority in line with its responsibility under the constitution.

Reacting to reports of the breakout of violence in some parts of the country by some ethnic and sectional groups, the president warned that the government will not allow any ethnic or religious group to stoke up hatred and violence against other groups.
He condemned such violence and gave assurances that his government will act decisively to stop the spread of any such violence.

Buhari appealed to religious and traditional leaders as well governors and other elected leaders across the country to join hands with the federal government to ensure that communities in their domain are not splintered along ethnic and other primordial lines.

Outrage as Bandits Kill 121 in Kaduna in 44 Days

Meanwhile, with 121 people killed in Kaduna State by bandits from January 1 to February 13, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) and the Kaduna State chapter of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), have expressed outrage over the incessant killings and proffered different solutions to the problem.
In separate interviews with THISDAY, SOKAPU advocated collaboration between government and communities in crushing the bandits, while MACBAN insisted on “reconciliation and amnesty” for the hoodlums.

Official casualty figures from daily security report by the Kaduna State government indicates that a total of 121 people have been killed in various communities by bandits in the 44 days under review.

The reports also indicated that many people were either injured or abducted, while some houses and shops were burnt.
The reports also showed that the most affected areas are communities in Birnin Gwari, Chikun, Giwa and Igabi Local Government Areas of the state.

The attacks occurred almost on a daily basis, either at night or in broad daylight, even as security agents continue to raid the bandits’ camps, “neutralising” many of them.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai had recently kicked against the suggestions that the bandits are granted amnesty as a solution to ending the killings.

A prominent Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi, who recently visited the bandits in their forests in Kaduna and Zamfara States had proposed amnesty for the bandits to end the killings.

However, el-Rufai while, rejecting such proposal, said Kaduna State was at war with the hoodlums who must be eliminated.
The Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, did not respond to a text message on whether there are new strategies to stop the endless killings.

But the spokesman of the Kaduna State Police Command, Mr. Mohammed Jalige, told THISDAY at the weekend that the police and other security agencies are “on top of the situation.”
According to him, the police commissioner has ordered the deployment of more police personnel in areas affected by banditry.

Asked if there are new strategies to tackle the bandits, Jalige said: “The Commissioner of Police has ordered the deployment of police personnel in the affected areas.
“Precisely, last week, some mobile police personnel were deployed in Birnin Gwari Area Command so as to checkmate the activities of the hoodlums that have been perpetrating a lot of crimes there.”

Jalige added that the police, the army and other security agencies are putting in their best to tackle the banditry.
“We are on top of the situation – the police, the army and other security agencies are putting in the very best.

“What we want from the general public is information about the whereabouts of the bandits so that we will be able to intercept and destroy their plan,” he said.
However, SOKAPU expressed outrage and advocated collaboration between government and communities in crushing the bandits.

In a telephone interview in Kaduna yesterday, the spokesman of SOKAPU, Mr. Luka Binniyat, stated that if the Kaduna State government is serious about ending the killings and abductions by bandits, communities should be empowered to work with security agencies in fighting the criminals.

Binniyat said: “If the Kaduna State Government is serious about ending the mass slaughter, kidnapping and destruction of homes and property of its citizens by armed Fulani herdsmen, who the media is window dressing as ‘bandits,’ it is a very simple matter, not rhetoric.”

He added that the South-west has shown the way, as the marauders are fleeing away from Amotekun, the regional vigilante force of the Yoruba nation.
He urged the Kaduna State Government and other states in the North-west to “empower communities by training the teeming and ever willing youths on basic defence strategy and provide them with non-assault weapons allowed by law.

“If Civilian JTF is allowed in the Boko Haram-infested North-east states, why is a similar outfit forbidden in Kaduna State, which has become the headquarters of kidnapping and violence in the North today?”

He said the youth, especially from the over 100 communities that have been sacked by killer herdsmen, were ready to flush out the criminals.
“The truth is that the situation is getting worse as thousands of herdsmen are fleeing southern states into the warm embrace of local Fulani in Southern Kaduna.”

Citing a publication, he stated that Laduga grazing reserves, in Zangon Kataf Local Government Area, in Southern Kaduna, has in the past one week received 4,000 Fulani herdsmen.

According to him, SOKAPU believes that if a fraction of the millions spent daily on maintaining the military and paramilitary in the war against the bandits are used to train youth volunteers, they can get rid of the bandits in Kaduna State.

He lamented that attempts to pursue fleeing armed herdsmen who committed atrocities against communities have been criminalised as ‘self-help,’ adding that the youths are always rounded up and arrested by soldiers, especially if any firearm is found in their possession.

Binniyat said: “As long as this attitude of government continues, there is little hope in ending this violence.”
However, in his reaction, spokesman of the Kaduna State chapter of MACBAN, Mr. Ibrahim Bayero, said banditry had become a serious problem in the state, and there should be reconciliation and amnesty for the bandits.

According to him, since the government cannot fight the bandits, it should reconcile with them.
“There is a serious problem in Kaduna State. These bandits, the way we see it, the security personnel are not ready to overcome it. Let there be an amnesty to the bandits,” he said.
He also called on el-Rufai to withdraw his statement rejecting amnesty for the bandits and threatening to kill them.

“Let discussions continue for amnesty because that was the situation in the Niger Delta who were sabotaging the nation’s economy,” Bayero stated.

He added that el-Rufai was the same person who claimed that he did not have power and did not control the military, and the police, saying it is a federal government affair.
Bayero said: “What he is saying is different from what he had said before. What we are saying is that since you cannot fight with these people, reconcile with them.

“The governor said his hands are tied and cannot afford to fight them because the military and police are not under him.

“Now he is telling us that they should go and kill them. But in many years now, how many has he killed? What we the Fulani that are in the bush are saying is that instead of the security personnel to kill the bandits, they are killing innocent Fulani because they don’t know the difference between innocent Fulani who are rearing cattle in the bush.”
He urged the governor to withdraw the statement, stressing that the governor must have been misled by somebody.
“I don’t believe it is his idea, it is somebody’s idea,” he said.