- To launch joint operations soon
SSenator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Nigerian military has vowed to deal decisively with marauding herdsmen that have been terrorising people and killing in different parts of the country, the same way it is dealing with the Boko Haram insurgency, Niger Delta militancy and other acts of criminality.
The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig-Gen. Rabe Abubakar, gave the assurance yesterday in response to THISDAY enquiries into the gruesome murder of over 40 farmers of Ukpabi Nimbo Community in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area in Enugu State by the suspected Fulani herdsmen.
Abubakar said the military would collaborate with the Nigerian Police and other security agencies to ensure the security of lives and properties in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s directives following the public outrage that greeted the massacre.
“The issue of security of lives and property rests solely on the Armed Forces and other security agencies, not only to tackle the herdsmen, but also any other criminal gang internally and externally cannot be tolerated,” he said.
Consequently, he said efforts were now being channeled towards ensuring that there is security of lives and property in the areas where such despicable killings by herdsmen are being perpetrated.
He said: “You could recall that the President has given us a directive and it is something we must comply with like in other cases. We deployed our men for Operations against cattle rustling tagged Sharandaji, which is to ensure that no herdsmen involved in criminal activities are spared.
“Each and every one of us has a role to play: physical security, giving information, synergising with other stakeholders. That is what we are going to do like we are doing in the North East, Niger Delta and other parts of the country. It would involve not only the military.”
Speaking further, Abubakar said the military and other security agencies would do everything to ensure that the security of lives and properties of Nimbo community in particular and that of Nigerians in general were sustained.
He said that the security threat and challenge posed by the suspected killer herdsmen was a top priority for the authorities, and promised that those behind the dastardly acts would be apprehended.
The military, he said, has condemned the incident and vowed to do everything to contain further escalation, including apprehending those responsible and bringing them to justice.
“We must live in peace and be our brothers keepers in this time as conflict cannot be seeing as the answer to problems,” he urged.
On how the operation will be structured and commanded, Abubakar said it would take the Joint Task Force (JTF) format but that they were still perfecting the details.
He however noted that tackling the emerging security challenges would require the cooperation and support of all stakeholders including the security agencies, political and as well as community leaders.
According to the Defence Spokesman, the military has been proactive and successful in most of its operations, saying that current threat by herdsmen will not be different.
He said: “We have been very proactive in the operations and a lot of successes have been recorded. The current resurgence of this issue of herdsmen is something which must be given a priority now that there is a glaring security threats to lives and property, which the Armed Forces and other security agencies cannot close its eyes to.
“The issue of security of lives and properties is very important and should not be politicised. The locals must ensure that they cooperate with the security agencies, who are deployed to ensure that there is maximum security of lives and property.”
In the same vein, Abubakar said that the issues of other persons coming from other neighbouring countries to aide the local herdsmen cannot be ruled out completely because of the porous nature of the borders.
“I believe, with what we are planning to achieve, the issue of herdsmen’s threat would be drastically reduced,” he said.
Continuing, he said: “We are doing all we can to ensure that maximum measures are put in place to ensure that this kind of things are completely stopped and peace and order restored…
“And I believe the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), being the number one officer in the country, was briefed, and I believe we will come out with our own strategy in collaboration with other security agencies, on how to stop the excesses of the perpetrators of these killing of villagers and our citizens. It cannot be tolerated.”