Addressing a press conference in Jos on Wednesday on the insecurity ravaging the country, ECWA President, Dr. Stephen Panya, said “Boko Haram and ISWAP have destroyed tens of thousands of lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of Nigerians and many Christians and Christian communities have been deliberately targeted and destroyed.
“It is clear that these terrorist groups are gradually but tactically expanding their activities and making incursions into other parts of the north and even beyond, and the apparent lack of unity in the fight against these terrorist groups, and the inability of government to deal decisively with them within the shortest possible time has emboldened them to do more havoc.”
He warned that the deteriorating security in Nigeria in which farmers are unable to go to their farm for fear of attacks will further destroy Nigeria’s already depressed economy.
He explained that agriculture is the mainstay of the economy in terms of employment and strategic contribution to the general wellbeing of citizens, and considereing that unemployment fuels greater insecurity as many of the jobless youths resort to criminality, Nigeria will continue to experience a vicious cycle of insecurity if the challenges are not quickly addressed.
Panya observed that Fulani herdsmen and farmers had always had conflicts, which were easily resolved, but that the magnitude and dimension the recent conflicts had taken shows that there was more to it than mere conflict over water and grass.
“What we see today is simply terrorism under the guise of herders/farmers conflict. Unless these Fulani killer herdsmen are treated as terrorists, the situation will continue to persist. Also, the seeming silence of government on their activities gives the impression of a tacit support akin to what happened between the regime of Omar Al-Bashir and the Janjaweed terrorists in Sudan. It is a well-known fact that this unholy alliance was what eventually led to the emergence of South Sudan. We must not allow this situation to repeat itself in Nigeria”, further warned.
He said that Miyetti Allah as a group had been the official and most vocal voice and force behind the activities of the killer herdsmen, according to him, they have not only given justifications for their terror activities but work hard, in addition to narratives by some highly placed government officials, to sell them to both local and international communities as the victims of the recent bloodshed in Nigeria.
“But the calibre of weapons they use and the sophistry of their operations leave more questions than answers. It also leaves one baffling how, for the first time in history, the ‘supposed victim’ is highly armed with military grade weapons while the ‘supposed hostile communities’ are littered with mass graves, refugee camps and high economic impoverishment as a result of paying millions of naira in ransom for their kidnapped relatives, if at all they are lucky to receive them alive. This is the case in Southern Kaduna, Plateau State, Benue State and generally in the Christian dominated Middle Belt region of Nigeria.”
He added that, “It has become increasingly difficult to differentiate between Fulani herdsmen, bandits and even Boko Haram members because their antics are basically the same, and it may be only the underlying dominant driving motives that may differ.
“While money is more of a driving force for bandits, land grabbing and territorial expansion is more dominant for the Fulani militia, and religious motive more dominant for Boko Haram. However, the utterances of self-acclaimed negotiators and so-called mediators like Sheikh Gumi, are clearly effort to stir the bandits towards a religious war.
According to him, the attempted assassination of the sitting Governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom amounts to introducing another very dangerous dimension to the security challenge, which if not properly and decisively handled, can threaten the corporate existence of Nigeria.