The Presidency has blamed repeated killings in parts of the country as an attempt by some individuals to create a war situation in Nigeria.
Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, stated this, in Abuja, yesterday, when he appeared on a Lagos-based Television breakfast programme.
He added that while the herdsmen might have a share in the killings, the country is being attacked by some elements of the outlawed Islamic State (IS) who sneaked into the country.
“It is very clear that there is an attempt by some people, within and outside the country, to create a war. There is intelligence available that clearly indicates that, yes, there are Fulani herds people who kill but this country also suffers from attacks by ISIS, which has come into the country and they found a place in the cleavages that divide the country,” Shehu said.
Several people have died since the beginning of the year in Adamawa, Benue, Taraba, Zamfara states, and some other states, as a result of the series of attacks on their communities.
While many have accused herdsmen of attacking farmers in the affected states, president Buhari said the herders-farmers clash is an age-long crisis and also, noted that it would be wrong to make such allegations.
Rather, the president blamed the killings on fleeing men recruited by the late Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi.
Speaking about the situation, Shehu noted that it is the North Central that is being affected most by the killings and stressed that members of the IS are taking advantage of the fact that the region is the ‘dividing line’ between Muslims and Christians, as well as the northern and southern parts of the country.
The president’s spokesman further decried that the terrorists are carrying out massive attacks on innocent citizens, citing the arrest of a suspected member of the group who attempted to kill the Muslim deputy governor of Taraba.
Shehu also recalled reported killings of several persons in Benue, by wanted criminal suspect, Ghana, and disclosed that the Federal Government has gotten to the root of the situation.
On the proactive measure taken by the government to stop the killings, Shehu said arrests are being made while people are being declared wanted.
He, however, maintained that there is a huge mix of criminality linked to the killings while a group of people was not helping the government in solving the crisis
“Yes, the Fulani herdsmen who have taken to this criminality; there is also the Islamic State in West Africa factor, and the fact that the opposition political party seems to be operating from a different country.”
But, National Publicity Secretary of the opposition People’s Democratic Party, Kola Ologbondiyan disagreed and made references to how Buhari’s statements, inside and outside the country, fuelled insecurity in the country.
“The body language of Mr. President, at every fora, locally or international, seems to defend his line on insecurity in Nigeria.
“During his US visit, he did emphasise the fact that a particular section of the nation, who have been accused (of fuelling these killings) don’t carry AK-47; that they only walk around with sticks and cutlasses…”