The Head, Defence Headquarters Committee on Persistent Clashes between Herdsmen and Farmers, Maj. Gen. Edward Nze, has hinted that the incessant attacks and killings in some communities by suspected cattle rustlers if not repressed could assume the dimension of terror group, Boko Haram.
Speaking to pressmen during a courtesy visit to the Deputy Governor of Benue State, Benson Abounu at the State Peoples House on Wednesday, Major-General Ndze said that the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonishakin, was worried that the clashes between herdsmen and farmers were beginning to threaten national security.
Also speaking, the deputy governor told Nze that the atrocities committed by herdsmen and the dimension of the damage caused in Agatu and other communities in the state could not be said to have been perpetrated by the ordinary Fulani herdsmen, even as he pleaded with the authorities to do more investigation.
He said: “In Agatu LGA, more than six large communities were razed down and taken over by the herdsmen; we believe this is beyond some group of people seeking grazing land.”
“We know that the constitution guarantees freedom of movement, it does not warrant burning of houses, killing and taking over the people’s land.
“As we speak, same devastation has taken place in Tarka, Kwande, Logo and Buruku local government areas of the state. They kill in a most brutal manner. They are in black uniform, with AK 47 rifles. They are well trained; we believe they are from beyond Nigeria.”
Abounu, who admitted that Nigeria was battling with a national problem, stated that if no firm action was taken, the herdsmen menace would soon pose problems similar in nature to the Boko Haram insurgency.
In a related development, the Enugu State Police Command on Thursday dismissed as false and unfounded rumours of alleged invasion of Umuchigbo Abakpa Nike community by herdsmen.
A statement signed by the spokesman for the command, Mr Ebere Amarizu and made available to newsmen in Enugu, read:
“The attention of the Enugu State Command of the Nigeria Police Force has been drawn to the rumours making the round that some violent herdsmen have invaded Umuchigbo Abakpa Nike.
“The rumour has it that the community and others closed to it have been deserted, but the command wishes to make it clear that this is not only false but baseless and unfounded.”
It advised “members of the public particularly residents and people of the state to go about their normal pursuits without fear while rumour peddlers are warned to desist forthwith.”