The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, yesterday linked the New Year gruesome massacre of over 20 persons in Guma and Logo Councils of Benue State to communal crisis between Nigerian herdsmen and farmers in the affected areas.
Fielding questions from State House Correspondents after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday, the IGP said he had already deployed a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) to support the efforts of the AIG and Commissioner of Police (CP) in Benue State to ensure adequate protection of lives and property in the communities.
Idris, while dismissing allegations of Police reactionary disposition, rather than being proactive, said the hierarchy was working hard to forestall a reoccurrence of the crisis.
He stated that the New Year killings in the two councils were as a result of the perennial communal crisis in the areas, urging the people to live in peace with the herdsmen, who, he said, were Nigerians and part of the community.
“Obviously, it is communal crisis. Herdsmen are part of the community; they are Nigerians and are part of the community. Are they not?” he asked rhetorically.
Continuing, he said: “I think what we should be praying for is for Nigerians to learn to live in peace with one other.”
The IGP, who also dismissed insinuations that the Police was overwhelmed, following the sundry crises in different parts the country, particularly in Rivers, Benue and Kaduna states, disclosed that he had received directive from the President to “go and take care” and ensure that security was tightened in those areas.
“We are going to deploy more units to support the efforts the Police is making in the state to ensure we have adequate protection of lives and property,” he said.
This is contrary to an earlier position expressed by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, who, in his Eid-el-Kabir message last year, said armed herdsmen perpetrating violence in Nigeria were foreign terrorists.
At the Eid prayer attended by Second Republic President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, his deputy, Alhaji Ahmed Aliyu and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, among other dignitaries, the Sultan said: “All those so-called Fulani herdsmen moving with guns, causing violence and fighting with farmers are not Nigerians.
“These are foreigners coming into Nigeria to cause a breach of the peace of the nation. They are, therefore, terrorists and should be treated as such by the Nigerian security agencies.
“The Nigerian herdsmen are very peace-loving and law abiding.”
He stated that some “bad eggs” had infiltrated the Nigerian Fulani herdsmen and challenged the security agencies to be proactive.
Abubakar, however, admitted that there were problems between Fulani herdsmen and farmers, which should only be resolved through dialogue.
Idris also denied being behind the recent arrest of an online publisher by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), said to be acting on his directive, for allegedly publishing falsehood against him.
“I don’t need to send anybody, but whenever you commit an offence, it is our duty to ensure that we respond,” he said.