Killings: Mounting Body Count

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A recent report by THISDAY, which puts killings in the Middle Belt and some parts of the North-east at 901 since January is worrisome, writes Abimbola Akosile

The number of deaths in the Middle Belt and some parts of the North-east since January, put at 901, is a disturbing cause for concern. Yet, the bloodletting has not stopped. And the federal government does not appear to have a feasible solution on offer.

With Mosques and Churches being consumed in the rising wave of killings due to largely to the invasion by suspected herders in many states of the federation, particularly in the Middle Belt and some parts of the North-east, many Nigerians are worried that the country totters on the brink of collapse.

According to THISDAY findings, the states covered by the compilation include Benue, Taraba, Kaduna (mostly Southern Kaduna), Kwara, Plateau, Nasarawa, Niger, Kogi and Adamawa. The report revealed that April recorded the highest number of deaths at 412 persons. This was followed by January with about 272 persons killed. March recorded 162 deaths, while 62 persons were killed in February.

In the state-by-state breakdown, Benue State recorded the highest number of deaths with 308 persons killed. The state also took the lead in the number of property and farmlands destroyed in the period under review, resulting in thousands of persons displaced from their homesteads.

Following Benue was Taraba with 192 killed, while Kaduna had 75 deaths recorded against its name. Plateau posted 84 deaths due largely to attacks blamed on suspected herdsmen even as 127 deaths had been traced to Nasarawa. In Adamawa, the number of persons so far killed was put at 56, whilst Kogi followed closely with 43 deaths.
This compilation, however, excludes those who died from Boko Haram attacks in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States or through illnesses, childbirth, cholera and Lassa fever, among other natural death causes.

But, even more disturbing is that the killings have not abated. For everyday reports, there was always something about killings in one part of Nigeria or the other. However, whilst different countries of the world have their challenges too particularly in the area of security, their capacity to genuinely rise up to the situations has been the marked difference between them and Nigeria.

The tendency to want to thrive on propaganda and lies, alluding to technical defeats that never existed or gallivanting over alleged reclaim of seized territories by terrorists have remained one of the reasons the security situation in the country might have lingered than anyone could imagine.

Of particular concern, again, is the brazen fashion with which herdsmen and other criminal groups carry out their acts without as much a challenge from anywhere. The fact that government has not been able to effect any arrest and make example of some of those behind these acts of terror is what analysts believe has emboldened them to do more harm unchallenged.

Thus, while it is understandable the unconventionality in the war against terror and the fact that government is visibly running around to effectively brace up for the challenge, nothing can justify how and why it has sat back and watch nearly helplessly how common criminals have continued to have field days, killing mindlessly.

If the report from the Middle Belt alone puts killings at 901, the number would have been too alarming if other sources of killings are included. This is why government, analysts observe, cannot continue to give excuses at instances where all that is required is effective and determined leadership.

The President Muhammadu Buhari administration secured its current mandate on a tripod of security, anti-graft and the economy. Curiously, whilst there were doubts about his capacity to address the economic challenges of the country, no one disputed the fact that he would do well in the area of security and the fight against graft, alluding to a past that was not properly sculpted.

Today, unfortunately, he appears to have failed even more in those two areas than the economy earlier considered the weakest link and this is largely on account of the fact that he has failed to deliver leadership, either by accident or design.

In spite of government’s palpable failing capacity, the killings are becoming one too many and it is the view of all well-meaning Nigerians that government must not just rise up to the occasion; it must also review its strategy and now. Whatever it has done for the last three years has clearly failed and now is the time to have a rethink and come up with strategies that can sufficiently contain the many challenges of the country, security especially.