Worried by the alarming criminal activities of armed herdsmen across the country, President Muhammadu Buhari, some state governors and the Nigeria Police Force have devised strategic measures to end their menace.
A government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told one of our correspondents on Saturday that it would be wrong to assume that the Presidency was folding its arms while the killings were going on.
He said a lot of interventions were going on behind the scene and that the efforts would ultimately lead to peace in the affected areas.
The source referred our correspondent to the text of the nationwide broadcast by the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday, to commemorate the nation’s Democracy Day and second anniversary of the present administration.
IG deploys secret police in affected states
On its part, the Nigeria Police Force said it had deployed undercover operatives in many states of the federation to stop the menace.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, who stated this in an interview with SUNDAY PUNCH, did not mention the names of the affected states.
He, however, said the police were unable to completely disarm the herdsmen on account of their nomadic lifestyle.
He said, “The herdsmen move from one place to another, so when you talk of disarming, it means they are in a place where you can disarm them, but these herdsmen move from place to place.
“For those we have arrested, we have taken away their arms and they are being tried for unlawful possession of arms and for involvement in loss of lives.”
Moshood said the force is prosecuting many herdsmen involved in violent attacks in Benue, Taraba, Kaduna and Enugu states, but declined to give the number of those on trial.
“To a very large extent, we have curtailed it (herdsmen attacks), but that does not mean one or two isolated cases that occurred are not being addressed.
“We have deployed special intervention forces in all these areas. I may not be able to tell you the states we have special intervention forces because they are engaging in some covert operations.
“I can’t tell you the number of those being prosecuted, but we are prosecuting suspects in Enugu, Benue, Taraba and we have recovered a huge array of arms from them and the states governments are equally assisting the police.”
Moshood added that the agency was collaborating with the Nigeria Immigration Service and the committee on eradication of light and small arms to curb the influx of armed herdsmen and the proliferation of weapons in the country.
Dickson restricts herdsmen activities in Bayelsa
In Bayelsa State, Governor Seriake Dickson told SUNDAY PUNCH that his administration had restricted the activities of herdsmen in the state to the Bayelsa Palm area in Yenagoa, the state capital.
Dickson said the decision was to prevent the invasion of farmlands and check any security breaches.
The governor said the restriction order became imperative in view of the recent upsurge in violent and criminal activities of some herdsmen.
He also warned cattle rearers against bearing arms in the course of grazing their livestock, threatening that anyone caught with weapons would be dealt with in accordance with the law.
It was learnt that the government also set up vigilance groups in the state to identify and report any case of infraction by herdsmen.
Kwara orders herdsmen to pay compensation
The Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, on Saturday, said the state government had reached an agreement with relevant stakeholders that herdsmen would pay compensation on any farm that their cattle destroyed.
He stated that the arrangement was necessary to ensure that while herdsmen rear their cattle, farmers are also allowed to farm and produce food to feed themselves and for sales.
Speaking in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, he said the herdsmen had been re-organised with their leaders given the responsibilities to implement the compensation agreement with the farmers.
The governor said the state government had meetings with representatives of traditional rulers, herdsmen association, farmers and other relevant stakeholders where the agreement was reached.
Enugu recruits 25,000 youths to watch over farms
The Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, has ordered the establishment of a vigilance outfit to curb the incessant herdsmen attacks in the state.
Already, about 25,000 youths have been recruited across the state as officers and men of the neighbourhood security agency.
SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that the plan to form the neighbourhood watch outfit was informed by the need to forestall further herdsmen attacks in various communities.
The move is also expected to curb criminal activities such as kidnapping and armed robbery.
The selected neighbourhood watch members were trained by retired military and police officers on basic security procedures, including handling of light weapons.
Modern weapons, according to government sources, have been given to the vigilantes.