The Presidency has once again claimed that it has evidence that some of the killings that have been blamed on herdsmen in the ongoing herders-farmers crisis are being sponsored by politicians.
Hundreds have been killed as cattle herders have severally clashed with local farming communities over the control of lands, with most of the killings blamed on killer herdsmen.
The presidency has pushed back on these claims several times and blamed politicians for fueling the crisis for political gain ahead of the 2019 general elections.
In the aftermath of the killing of over 100 people in Plateau State in attacks allegedly carried out by herdsmen, President Muhammadu Buhari blamed the escalation of the conflict on politicians who are taking advantage of the crisis.
In a statement signed by the president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Sunday, July 8, 2018, he appealed to Nigerians to stop spreading false stories and inflammatory statements concerning the recent clashes.
Describing the clashes as ‘historical’, the president’s spokesperson noted that the triggers for the clashes are complex.
While urging for unity, Shehu said the federal government is working tirelessly to protect all Nigerian lives and properties.
He said, “The Presidency is appealing to all its citizens as well as members of the international community to refrain from spreading false stories and inflammatory statements concerning the recent herder-farmer clashes.
“The Nigerian Government is working closely with State governments and the Security Services – as well as international partners – in order to resolve this ongoing issue.
“The clashes between herders and farmers are historical. The causes of these confrontations are varied and complex.
“Climate change, specifically the drying up of the Chad Basin, has led to more pressure on the population in the North of Nigeria, which further compounded the problem.
“As President Buhari indicated lately, there is evidence of involvement of some politicians using criminals to perpetuate the killings.
“Climate change is an issue of global significance and the Nigerian Government is determined to continue working closely with its neighbours in order to ensure that a long-term solution can be implemented.
“The Federal Government makes no distinction amongst the population and works tirelessly to protect all Nigerian people.
“We are strongest as a nation when we are united and it is through unity that we will overcome this challenge.”
Herdsmen killings are political – FG
During an interview on Arise TV on June 20, Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi 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.
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.”
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.