GOVERNOR Samuel Ortom of Benue State has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for directing security agents to shoot anyone illegally bearing AK47 rifles as part of a sudden decision to clamp down on bandits and Fulani cattle herdsmen.
Nigeria has been wracked by communal violence over recent years with heavily-armed herdsmen causing mayhem across the country as their livestock destroy farms and crops. When local farmers complain, the herdsmen attack them with their automatic weapons, sometime flattening entire villages.
Of late the security situation has got worse with bandits now joining the fray and over recent weeks, they have taken to kidnapping schoolchildren for ransom to fund their operations. In addition to this, Fulani herdsmen have been known to commit other heinous crimes like rape, abductions and armed robbery.
President Buhari has come in for fierce criticism for failing to do anything about the crisis and for the total lack of policy direction from his government. This silence from the presidency has emboldened the herdsmen and bandits to believe they are immune from arrest and prosecution as President Buhari is himself Fulani and owns cattle.
However, given the pressure over the last few days after 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped in Zamfara State, President Buhari has finally decided to act. Among the measure he announced yesterday were that a no fly zone would be introduced over Zamfara State and everyone who owns an AK 47 assault rifle should hand it over.
In addition, President Buhari also directed the suppression of bandits who have refused to surrender to the security forces. Welcoming the measures, Governor Ortom stated that the order would reduce the level of criminality, banditry and militia herders’ attacks on Benue communities as well as other parts of the country.
According to the governor, the order would also make the communities safer for displaced farmers to return to their ancestral homes. He noted that President Buhari had done the right thing by listening to the calls he and other concerned Nigerians made on the need for the federal government to act faster and decisively to save the country from degenerating into a state of anarchy.
Governor Ortom said: “I wish to commend Mr President for his recent order against those bearing AK47 rifles. This I am sure will reduce the high rate of criminality, banditry and militia herdsmen attacks on our farming communities.
“I don’t only criticise, I also commend where necessary and I want to say shame on those psychopaths who were bashing me for writing to Mr President because he has finally heeded my advice.”
Security agents have been given the order to shoot anyone found carrying AK-47 illegally, while helicopters that violate the no fly zone will also be brought down. National security adviser Major General Babagana Monguno, said President Buhari has told the military service chiefs to be hard on criminal elements to secure Nigerians.