The presidency yesterday rebutted allegation that President Muhammadu Buhari is shielding criminal Fulani herders from arrest, describing as uncharitable, such comments made against the president.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, while featuring on a live television programme, said many criminal Fulani herders were being prosecuted.
The activities of renegade Fulani herdsmen have stoked a national security crisis, leading to the quit order given them in Ondo and Oyo States.
Also yesterday, the Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, ordered the immediate deployment of four units of riot policemen in Ibadan to address the violence in parts of Oyo State arising from clashes between Hausa and Yoruba traders.
Shehu, however, urged the police to publish the names of herders undergoing trials in various states.
According to him, Buhari is not complicit in the herdsmen crisis rocking the nation.
He said: “The president is more than concerned about the ongoing situation. He is fully conscious of the fact that it is the responsibility of his government to work with Nigerians to secure lives and stop the ongoing crisis whether they are kidnappings or the new line of ethnic violence. He condemns it and he does not support it.
“Having spoken against it, it follows that all security agencies must take their line of action from the president’s remarks and do that which is necessary which is to stop the escalation of the violent attacks being witnessed in some parts of the country and ensure that it does not go beyond where it has been recorded.”
Shehu also described as uncharitable, comments made against Buhari, adding that many criminal Fulani herders are being prosecuted.
“I hope the headquarters of the police will take responsibility and publish the full list of Fulani herders who are undergoing trials in various states, particularly in Benue State,” he added.
According to him, trials are going on, while convictions have been made.
Buhari, on Sunday, had vowed that his administration would not allow any ethnic or religious group to stoke up hatred and violence against other groups.
The South-west region has been in the eye of the storm lately over the activities of herdsmen who invaded farmlands with their cattle, harassed farmers and in some cases killed them. Some herdsmen have also been accused of kidnapping, rape and other vicious crimes.
Reacting to calls on Buhari to address the nation and condemn the attacks by the herdsmen, Shehu stated that his principal is not a showman, and the security agencies are working to tackle the situation.
According to him, Buhari believes that actions speak louder than voice.
He said: “When Femi Adesina or I speak for the president, people should accept that it is the president that is speaking. For this president, it is the actions that should speak for him. He (Buhari) is not a showman; he doesn’t have to be there.”
He urged Nigerians not to personalise the issue, saying that the problem of the country requires the involvement of everyone.
Shehu rallied Nigerians to unite in solving the challenges facing the nation.
He said security agencies were working to deal with the situation and they did not lack the political will to quench the crisis.
He said: “We need to be appreciative of the enormous risks that our security people are facing; they are making it possible for you and I to sleep well because they are exposing themselves on the frontline.
“So, for everybody to say there is no political will, is anybody complaining? Is the IG of police saying he is unable to do his job because he doesn’t have political support? This president allows you to do your job.”
IG Dispatches Four Riot Police Squadrons, Chopper to Oyo
To curtail further violence in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, the Inspector-General of Police, Adamu, has ordered the immediate deployment of four units of riot policemen in the state.
The intervention and stabilisation forces also include the Force Intelligence Bureau operatives and one surveillance helicopter from the police air wing department.
Oyo State has been lately wracked by violence, including the killings of farmers by suspected herdsmen, abductions and the clashes between some Hausa and Yoruba traders at Shasa market.
But the police spokesman, Mr. Frank Mba, a commissioner of police, said in a statement yesterday that the operatives would reclaim the public space, reinforce security and bolster public confidence in the areas affected by the crisis.
“The deployments, consisting largely of intelligence and operational assets of the force, include four units of the Police Mobile Force, seasoned operatives from the Force Intelligence Bureau and one operational/surveillance police helicopter from the Police Air-wing Department.
“The intervention force is being coordinated by a Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Mr. David Folawiyo, who is expected to mobilise all relevant stakeholders towards achieving the mandate of the squad,” it said.
The IG assured the people that the police were committed to the safety of lives and property of citizens .
He called on the residents of Oyo State and other Nigerians to embrace peace and cooperate with the police and the security community “as they redouble their efforts in ensuring that sustainable peace and security are restored to the affected areas.”
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State and his Ondo State counterpart, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, had on Sunday visited the troubled Shasa community in Ibadan, where they appealed for calm and peaceful coexistence between the Hausa community and their Yoruba hosts.
The two governors who spoke at the Shasa market and the residence of the Baale Shasa had also urged the residents of the community and the state, particularly the Yoruba and Hausa, to stop taking the law into their hands.