The presidency has slammed the opposition party for playing irresponsible, crude politics.
At least 100 people in Plateau State were gruesomely killed in attacks allegedly carried out by herdsmen on Saturday, June 23, 2018. Muslim Fulani herdsmen were reported to have killed dozens of people in several communities in Plateau on Saturday, leading to subsequent retaliation by locals who reportedly targeted Muslims in some communities.
Amid criticism of the federal government's handling of the conflict which has escalated from clashes between herders and farmers, the PDP declared seven days of mourning with its flag flying at half mast.
In a statement released by President Muhammadu Buhari's Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, on Thursday, June 28, he said the opposition party should be more concerned with offering ideas on how to end the killings instead of dancing on the graves of victims.
He went further to accuse the party of hypocrisy, noting that its 16-year reign in the presidency was also littered with vicious killings that the party failed to acknowledge with the same concern.
Accusing the party of playing irresponsible politics, Adesina warned the opposition to have a change of heart, or "lose their very humanity".
He said, "These are dolorous times that call for deep introspection on how cheap human lives have become, and the proffering of actionable ideas on how to get out of the bind. But the PDP would rather dance on the graves of the dead, playing cheap, infantile politics.
"The comatose and prostrate party is declaring seven days of mourning, during which flags in its offices would be flown at half mast nationwide. But unknown to the party, those flags had been forcefully lowered since its 2015 loss at the polls, and may remain so for a long time to come, because Nigerians are politically discerning, and cannot be hoodwinked by cheap antics.
"A quick checklist of some savage and brutal killings in Nigeria during PDP rule, between 1999 and 2015, for which no national mourning was declared:
"November 20, 1999. Odi, in Bayelsa State, was invaded on orders of a PDP President. About 2,500 people killed. No national mourning.
"Between February and May, 2000, about 5,000 people were killed during riots over Sharia law in different parts of the North. No national mourning.
"In 2001, hundreds of people, including the old, infirm, women and children were killed in Zaki Biam. No crocodile tears.
"Between September 7-12, 2001, Jos, Plateau State, erupted in internecine killings. Between 500 and 1,000 people were killed. Flags were not flown at half mast.
"In February, 2004, at least 975 people were killed in Yelwa-Shendam, Plateau State. No mourning by the then ruling PDP.
"Between November 28 and 29, 2008, Jos was in flames again, with 381 deaths. No mourning.
"In 2010, 992 people killed in Jos. Mum was the word.
"In 2014 alone, according to Global Terrorism Index, at least 1,229 people were killed in the Middle Belt. No mourning.
"Those who take pleasure in twisting statements from the Presidency may claim we are saying that many more people were killed under PDP than under President Muhammadu Buhari. It would be unconscionable to do so.
"The intendment of this statement is to show that wanton killings had been with us for awhile; this government is working towards enduring solutions; and should be given the opportunity to do so.
"Even a single soul is precious, and no man should take a life, which he cannot create. But when tragic situations as had happened in Plateau State occur, such should never be used to play crude politics. Those who wont to do so should have change of hearts, or lose their very humanity"
On Monday June 25, Buhari blamed the escalation of the herders-farmers conflict on politicians who are taking advantage of the crisis for political gains ahead of the upcoming 2019 elections.
During an interview on Arise TV on June 20, Adesina had blamed the federal government's political opposition for escalating killings allegedly carried out by herdsmen all over the country for political gain.
He said political detractors of the current administration have hijacked the conflict and sponsored attacks to discredit Buhari's achievements in strengthening security in the country.
The president's Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, made a similar accusation in April 2018 when he revealed that the federal government has evidence that most of attacks are being sponsored by politicians who are trying to blackmail the government.
Just days later, the Defence Headquarters also blamed the rise in the spate of killings carried out by suspected herdsmen as the handiwork of certain unnamed sponsors.
The Director, Defence Information, Brigadier-General John Agim, said, "The military is strategising on how to go after the herdsmen and their sponsors. We will get both the herdsmen and their sponsors. We want to say this to the killers and their sponsors that the military is coming for them. We are going to get both the killers and their sponsors very soon."
More recently in May, President Buhari himself alleged that the spate of killings in Nigeria was being sponsored by certain individuals to start a war in the country for selfish reasons. He further remarked that attacks on locations like places of worship is an attempt to stoke conflict and turn Nigerians against one another on the basis of religion.
Herders and farmers have clashed for years over the battle for resources as roaming herdsmen tend to graze their cattle on farmlands, leading to tension and sometimes violence that leads to deaths of people on both sides.
Ever since herdsmen were blamed for the death of 73 people in attacks launched in Guma and Logo local government areas of Benue State in the opening days of January 2018, hundreds of people have been killed in similar attacks with Taraba and Benue bearing most of the brunt.