Defence Minister says herdsmen crisis is a communal issue
The minister said the issue originated from the implementation of anti-open grazing laws.
The minister said this after a security briefing of all service chiefs and intelligence agencies with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa on Thursday, January 25, 2018.
While speaking to State House correspondents, the minister revealed that the crisis was one of the issues discussed during the quarterly National Security Council meeting.
The minister said the issue originated from the implementation of anti-open grazing laws and the blockade of grazing routes used by the herdsmen.
He also said local communities must learn to accommodate foreigners who pass through with their grazing herds.
According to him, the recent killings were not one-sided as could be confirmed in the arrest of militias who were also tasked with causing harm to herdsmen.
He said, "First, I talked about this commission on proliferation of arms into the country. You see, whatever crisis that happens at any time, there are remote and immediate causes.
"Look at this issue (killings in Benue and Taraba). What is the remote causes of this farmers' crisis? Since the nation's Independence, we know there used to be a route which the cattle rearers take because they are all over the nation. You go to Bayelsa, Ogun, you will see them. If those routes are blocked, what do you expect will happen?
"These people are Nigerians. It is just like one going to block shoreline, does that make sense to you? These are the remote causes of the crisis. But the immediate cause is the grazing law.
"These people are Nigerians and we must learn to live together with each other. Communities and other people must learn how to accept foreigners within their enclave. Finish!"
After he was asked if he was justifying the recent killings of over a hundred people in Benue and Taraba, he said, "You are going away from what I came here to do. However, this is internal security, I can provide some answers. I have told you that the remote cause is part of the grazing law. Since independence there are clear routes where these people pass.
"On the issue of arms, they are all over. In those killings you are talking about, there are also militias that also did the killings. Some people were caught with arms and they call themselves forest guards or whatever, with AK-47.
"There is nowhere in this country where arms are allowed to be carried, apart from security forces. So anybody carrying any arms is doing so illegally.
"Militias were caught in the same land doing the same killings, so the killings are not done by any particular group; it's a communal issue."
Firearms and drugs responsible for violence in Nigeria
Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, believes the upsurge of violence in the country can be blamed on the influx of firearms as well as drug trafficking and abuse.
The minister disclosed this on Tuesday, January 23, before a private meeting with heads of the nation's internal security agencies to discuss recent security challenges.
Dambazau said that firearms and drugs have fueled the courage of troublemakers to push ahead with violence all over the country.
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