Government could do more to contain the widespread violence

In the latest of the internecine violence that now defines this season in our country, about 40 people were recently killed in Godogodo, Jema’a Local Government Area of Kaduna State. The aggressors were believed to be herdsmen. As it has been the case since 2011, the reprisal attack that followed left about 14 people dead. Earlier in August, suspected herdsmen were also on the prowl in Kobin village, Sanga Local Government, mowing down about 20 people.

Unfortunately, the violence, which has the imprimatur of savagery, shows no promise of abating as the combatants, the herdsmen and the indigenous people of Southern Kaduna, find no common ground for peace. Many tribunals of enquiries and peace committees instituted to trace the causes of the several crises and propose sustainable solutions have been unsuccessful in that task largely because government, past and present, lacked the political will to implement their recommendations.

More sadly, we are about to witness the usual circus. The recent attacks and counter-attacks have been variously condemned by all stakeholders, including the Kaduna State Government and the Jema’a Local Government that was forced to impose a dusk to dawn curfew on the area. Governor Nasir el-Rufai has also indicated that he would institute an enquiry into the bloody violence.

Given the human and material costs of these crises, we think the federal and state governments that have primary and secondary responsibilities, respectively, for the security of lives and property of the people, need to be more decisive in the handling of this phenomenon, which has become a criminal enterprise. It is scandalous that since the escalation of the crises in 2011, and in spite of the rising body count, not a single person has been arrested, prosecuted and convicted for the several murders that have traces of a pogrom.

It is curious that Governor el-Rufai is proposing another enquiry into the violent clashes in Southern Kaduna when the reports and recommendations of the previous ones, including the 2014 General Martins Agwai-led enquiry and the one he instituted on the outbreak of the violence on the eve of his inauguration on May 29, 2015, have not been attended to by the government.

We think the failure of government to apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators of the heinous crimes in Southern Kaduna and elsewhere seem to encourage the propensity for violence as means of redressing perceived grievances. It is therefore our recommendation that government must demonstrate and bring to justice all those who use unlawful means to settle scores even as it strives to remove the fundamental basis of the strife that plagues the area.

Instructively, one of the major challenges facing Nigerian security agencies is the lack of public trust. This has led to a situation in which Nigerians who live in the affected communities refuse to volunteer information to the authorities, thereby denying them vital intelligence needed to effectively carry out their mandate of ridding the area of violent criminals. But the security agencies also need to up their ante by improving on their intelligence gathering capabilities to detect and nip in the bud the potential for disputes that escalate into the mayhem that have been the lot of the people of Southern Kaduna in recent years.

For the umpteenth time, we reiterate that security agencies need to step up their acts and strengthen inter-agency coordination to checkmate the current descent into anarchy in several theatres across Nigeria. But in the instant case of Southern Kaduna, it is important that the entrepreneurs of violence in the area be fished out and made to face the wrath of the law. Until that is done, the body count will keep mounting to our collective shame as a nation.