Fed Government won’t force cattle colonies
Troops are likely to be deployed in some herdsmen/farmers crises flashpoints in Benue, Taraba and other states, it was learnt at the weekend.
The troops will have the mandate to flush out the rampaging bandits and mercenaries.
The government may also allow each state to meet with its stakeholders to design own solutions to the herdsmen challenge as the Federal Government will not impose any solution, such as the controversial cattle colony, on states.
These are some of the highlights of the Working Group raised two weeks ago by the National Economic Council (NEC).
There are nine governors in the committee, which is chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
A source said intelligence report on the likelihood of mercenaries behind the killings in some states might have accounted for the planned deployment of troops.
The source said: “The Federal Government has drawn the battle line to end the impunity and killings in Benue, Taraba, Adamawa and other states.
“At the end of the Working Group meeting last week, it was clear a major turning point had been reached in the management of the crisis and sufficient consensus recorded on the need to stop the impunity by engaging the military in a more decisive manner.
“Decisive military force will now be fully engaged to deal with the bandits believed to be behind the killings in parts of the country, especially regarding the crisis often associated with herdsmen.”
The military is already engaged and would soon begin to implement decisive military steps to tackle the situation.
“Indeed one of the firm outcomes of the Working Group’s meeting was the expressed readiness of the federal Govt to locate and identify the bandits who perpetrate the killings and the violence, and using all necessary means, including military involvement, to flush them out of their hideouts in forests across the country as a definite move to secure the lives and property of Nigerian citizens.
“The role of bandits and suspected mercenaries in what has become known as herdsmen/ farmers clashes and violence may have provoked the need for a fresh approach to dealing with the crisis.
“The settled view in official circles is that the reported killings and violence recorded are the work of bandits and mercenaries since in many cases the herdsmen are often well-known in the communities where their cattle normally graze.”
The crisis also required a political solution, considering the religious and ethnic tones that could easily worsen the situation.
A source said: “This is the reason analysts argue, even with some critical opinions, on the composition of the Working Group, that the idea of gathering together governors across the country, including the states where the crisis has been intense to collaborate actively among themselves and with the Federal Government to address the situation is useful.”
Another source said the Federal Government might strengthen law enforcement and intelligence agencies to tackle the matter.
The source added: “The Working Group has also resolved to work with the Federal Government to strengthen law enforcement and all security and intelligence agencies in the country so that they can coordinate better in dealing with, checkmating, and preventing the crisis from further escalation.
“The police and other security and military agencies have been asked to recruit more rank and file to tighten security in the troubled spots and in the country generally.”
On how to permanently address the basis of the herdsmen and farmer clashes, the source added: “The Working Group has taken the view that every state should by a rigorous consultative process with all stakeholders design its own solutions.
“The Federal Government will not impose any solution on any state. The Vice President assured all that the Federal Government would certainly not imposed its ideas on the states and noted that fears being expressed on cattle colonies are misplaced.”