*Nobody has the right to attack another person
From Mohammed Baba Busu
There is no doubt, tough situations demand extraordinary decisions and courageous actions to address them. This applies to all spheres of human life. The recent relocation of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, to Benue state, as directed by the president to curb the killing of innocent residents of the state by some suspected militia, is a bold step in the right direction.
Even though, many Nigerians were of the opinion that military intervention would have better handled the situation considering its enormity, the outcome of the IGP’s visit, however, proved that the Nigeria Police Force have the capacity perform wonders.
It would be recalled that after the killings in Benue, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the IGP to immediately relocate to Benue State to address the situation and ensure that it did not escalate.
In an effort to get to the root of the matter, immediately he arrived Benue on Wednesday last week, the IGP held a crucial meeting with stakeholders in the state where frank discussions were held.
Residents of the state were given the opportunity to ventilate their anger and grievances to the IGP and by extension the president.
Indeed, the IGP heard both the bad and the good from stakeholders who frankly poured out their frustration over the ugly incident. In rare cases some stakeholders applauded the Federal Government for its intervention.
Prior to the IGP’s arrival, 10 units of Police Mobile Force had already been deployed to the State.
Also, more units of the Police Special Forces, Counter Terrorism Units, and Conventional Policemen were also deployed to the state
At the meeting, IGP Idris, reiterated the commitment of the Nigeria Police Force to apprehend and prosecute perpetrators of the killings of the 73 innocent residents of the state on New Year day.
He vowed that there will be no sacred cows and assured that anyone found to be involved either directly or indirectly in the killings would be brought to book.
IGP Idris explained that the meeting with the stakeholders was geared toward finding lasting solutions to the crises and ultimately put an end to it for lasting peace in the state.
While vowing that the police would not rest until the perpetrators of the killings were arrested, the IGP said: “I want to assure you that the police will not rest on its oars until these hoodlums are apprehended and brought to justice.
“We are conducting investigation into the killings and will take appropriate action against the perpetrators of the heinous crime. I want to assure you that police have put in place security measures to checkmate the activities of these miscreants.”
He reiterated that harsh punitive measures will be taken against anyone found to be carrying arms around.
Also, at a courtesy visit to Tor Tiv, Prof James Ayatse and other 10 First Class paramount rulers in Makurdi, the IGP advocated for closer cooperation between the police and the general public, in order to ensure effective policing of the state.
Speaking, the paramount ruler, Prof. Ayatse pledged to mobilize the Benue traditional institution and by extension, the entire Benue residents to support the IGP to restore permanent peace in the state.
The paramount ruler however, charged the IGP to fish out the attackers and bring them to book to serve as deterrent to those who may want to engage in such devilish acts in the future.
The following day, the IGP zoomed to Nasarawa state which shares border with Benue and held a similar meeting with stakeholders with a charge on Nigerians to embrace tolerance and peace to foster unity and development.
He assured the residents of the state that police will do all that is within its powers to protect them and their property.
Idris also deployed five additional Mobile Police Units to Nasarawa state to ensure the security of the people, especially those in the border communities.
On his part, the Nasarawa State Governor, Umaru Al-Makura, applauded the President for the initiative and assured that the state government would give the security agencies the necessary support to succeed in the assignment of restoring peace and unity amongst all ethnic nationalities.
Al-Makura, however, debunked the allegations earlier raised by Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state that killer herdsmen are being harboured in Tunga, Awe local government area of Nasarawa state.
He described the allegations as “grievous, unacceptable and terribly speculative”.
According to Al-Makura: “This is an unfair comment to make of Nasarawa state, especially that we enjoy very cordial relationship and can always be reached with any evidence in that regards.
“I can assure you as the chief security officer of the state that we would give the police all the necessary support to comb every part of the state to ascertain whether there is any such thing,” Al-Makura added.
Al-Makura pointed out that Awe, where the killer herdsmen were allegedly being camped had become a sanctuary for displaced persons, mostly of the Tiv extraction from both states.
However, some stakeholders of Tiv extraction at the meeting acknowledged that some of their kinsmen had been killed by herdsmen as result of the implementation of the anti-grazing law in Benue.
The Nasarawa State Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Gabriel Aka’aka, however, wondered why the Tiv people in the state should be attacked when they have nothing to do with the anti-open grazing law in Benue.
He, therefore, stressed the need for security reinforcement along the border communities to apprehend the “mysterious killers” and allay the fears of displaced persons in the area.
In order to boost confidence and also encourage the people of the areas directly affected by the killings, the IGP visited the hot and trouble spots of Gbajimba, headquarters of Guma local govt area of the state.
In order to test the veracity of the allegation raised by Governor of Benue State, Otom , the IGP visited Anyiin and Tunga villages ravaged by the suspected killer militia in the state and assured them of adequate police protection to prevent a recurrence of the attacks.
The IGP’s visit to the communities was facilitated by allegations from Gov Orton that militiamen killing Benue farmers were being camped in Tunga, Awe local government area of Nasarawa state, and to see things for himself
The police boss who went through aerial surveillance assured that now that he has go round and see things for himself, we are going to make some adjustments of deployments, “we are taking some more mobile policemen to these areas and this we are to achieve because of our personnel assessment of these locations.
He also took time to stop over at the IDP’s camps and gave them the assurances of their safety.
“Nobody has the right to attack another person, it is not possible so what we going to do now is that we are going to reinforced the number of mobile men so that they can identity areas where there are build-ups”.
A community leader, who received the IGP at Anyiin, in Logo LG of Benue state, Dr Terkura Suswan at the central refugee centre which houses more than 55,000 refugees who are victims of the crisis.
The police boss said It was the epicentre of the attack, hence the need to reach out to all the parties involved and understand their grudges
In Tunga, the Emir, Alhaji Ibrahim Shaibu, who applauded President Buhari for directing the I-G of police to go and restore peace in the crisis areas, denied allegations that the militia were been harbored in the area.
The traditional ruler explained that a mechanism has been adopted to control the influx of foreigners in to the community.
Also speaking, the spokesman of the Tiv community in the area, Abraham Vighi, said there were no killer-militia lodging in the area.
All the community leaders denied the allegation, insisting that there were no killers miscreant hideouts in their area.
In a related development, Nasarawa State government has said it had spent about N50 million on over 18,000 displaced persons in the state due to spillover of killings in Benue.
The Special Adviser to Gov Al-makura on Security Matters, Mohammed Adeka disclosed this at a news conference on Thursday in Lafia.
He said the reports showed that the spillover attacks in some communities of Benue had led to the displacement of so many people in the border town between the two states.
Adeka said already security had been beefed up in the affected areas and government had set up mobile clinics as well as distributed relief materials to the IDPs.
No matter how critics may see it, the IGP’s relocation to Benue since the past one week has made tremendous impact.
No doubt, frayed naves have calmed and the visit has also given the people of the area some level of confidence on the ability of the government to protect them.
The massive redeployment of various units of the Force has also yielded the needed results, as since then, the killings have stopped.
It is therefore, necessary to advise the residents of the affected states including Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa to cooperate fully with the police through the provision of useful and timely information in order to nib any further attack in the bud.
IGP Idris has assured to also sustain his efforts by ensuring that, where necessary, police formations are establish so that such deadly killers will be scared away from the area permanently.
Baba Busu contributed this piece from Abuja