It is a good idea that the Senate President, Dr. Olusola Saraki, has sent the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on Security to travel to Zamfara and investigate the recent killings in that State. The attacks on Birane Village in Zumi Local Government Area are widely reported to have claimed more than 40 lives.
The Senate President explained that the investigation became necessary to assess the extent of the killings and the Committee should report back to the Senate plenary this week. Senator Kabiru Marafa, who represents Zamfara Central constituency and was instrumental to the investigation had called for on-the-spot assessment. He had earlier raised an alarm over the seemingly endless spate of killings and other kinds of criminal activities in Zamfara State.
The Ad Hoc Committee on Security was the Senate’s idea of an organ through which it can review the security structure of the country and assess how well the system is working. It is chaired by the Majority Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan. We appreciate the Senate’s concern although it appears like a decision that came too late.
A recent media report stated that between 2011 and today, more than 2,000 Nigerians have been killed in Zamfara State by herdsmen, various militia groups, and criminal gangs. Senator Marafa once spoke with despair of some of the militia groups and how they have taken over parts of the state, illegally usurping the functions of local magistrates by settling cases and offering security protections.
We urge the Senate Security Committee to see their assignment in Zamfara State as just the beginning because the bloodshed in the land has become a daily scourge, and it is not confined to the North Central or North East regions.
As late as March 12, Fulani herdsmen were reported to have brutally murdered four men in Enyanwuigwe Village in Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State and gravely injured two others forcing Governor Dave Umahi to predict a national war unless the Federal Government ends the killings as a matter of urgency. The governor had invited the leaders of the Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria over the carnage and reminded them that the Izzi people were famed warriors. He also stressed that he has been suppressing the Izzi community’s urge for a reprisal.
On March 13, the scheduled mass burial of the victims of a massacre which had occurred on the day President Muhammadu Buhari was on a state visit to Plateau State was disrupted by a fresh massacre of 25 persons in Dundu Village in Kwall District of Bassa which occurred on March 12. Eleven houses were also razed by the herders. Among the 25 killed were three children and two women. The Plateau Police Command confirmed the attack and the State Police Commissioner, Adie Undie, was said to have ordered a Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations), Taiwo Jebiyisu “to go to the scene of crime for an on-the-spot assessment.”
We urge the Senate committee to put their best efforts into their work in Zamfara State and make their findings public. The spate of killings in our communities perpetrated by the herdsmen deserves to be treated by the Federal Government as a national emergency. For years, the Buhari administration has seemingly treated it as unworthy of its primary attention whereas it is tearing the country apart and creating hard feelings across the land.
In spite of presidential orders, in spite of military slogans, the last was “Cat Race,” the killings have continued. We believe that it will continue until the Federal Government truly determines that it must stop. And as long as it goes on, the government is failing in its primary duty of protecting the life and property of Nigerians.