Banditry crisis in Nigeria and the ethic dimention by Abdulrazaq Hamzat
Alot of people have requested for my opinion on the menace of banditry in Nigeria and the increasing ethic dimention, especially with the development in Oyo State and other southern part of the country.
While i have delibately stayed away from the subject so as not to aggravate some people’s agony, i therefore find it worthy to give my opinion now, before it is too late.
1. Federal Government of Nigeria failed to protect the herders from cattle rustlers, thereby leading to crisis in the industry.
For over a decade, cattle rustlers were having a field day, rustling of cows, killing and miaming fulani herders.
In the process of rustling, thousands of herders were killed, their sources of livelihood crippled and endless waiting for justice and protection from government produced no result.
2. When government has failed to protect the herders, who are often within the forest areas, they resort to self help, contributing money to acquire similar weapons used by their tormentors as a means of self defence.
3. With their new found power of the guns, they protected themselves from their aggressors, but that seems not enough because there’s no much to hold unto, and soon, they take to crime and became the aggressors.
As history has shown us, every evil often start with a good intention, but a criminal without gun is still far better than a saint with gun. So, from the problem of cattle rustling, the dynamics of crime changed to human rustling, better known as kidnapping.
4. As more victim of cattle rustling, who have lost every source of livelihood discovers the possibility of escaping from their state of victimhood through human rustling in exchange for ransome, thousands of them were recruited into this business which is far easier than herding cows and soon, it became the new menace of organized banditry.
From victims, they became aggressors.
But the irony of it all is that, they feel justified within them, pointing fingers to government and their former tormentors.
5. The same government, which failed to protect herdsmen from rustlers during their decades of victimization, has equally failed to protect farmers and the general public from these highly wounded, highly populated and highly coordinated bandits.
From petty kidnapping, they grew into sophisticated banditry and now gradually metarmorphosing into insurgency.
Government must be held accountable for failing in its responsibility to the nation, it must be forced to be responsible and all efforts to solving the problem should be joint approach, not ethic based profiling.
This is not an ethic problem, it is a problem of government failure and a criminal problem.
6. Seeing failure of government to respond to the crisis appropriately, farmers and the general public are seeking a way out, through self help.
Quite notice and attacks against fulani community by the likes of Sunday Igboho is being supported by some people, under the guise of seeking solution to the current logjam.
7. However, just like the bandits, who are kidnapping and killing innocent people as a response to their own experience of victimhood in the hand of the rustlers, Sunday Igboho and their likes are largely attacking innocent people, a situation that may soon turn them to greater aggressors.
And because a criminal without a gun is far better than a saint with gun, we need to act with high level of restrain and responsibility, especially in giving them a nod.
8. It is important to note that, immediately local communities resort to self help, attacking, brutalizing and evicting others, just like the victim herders turn aggressor bandits, they may soon run out of fulani herders to attack, but instead turn greater threat, far beyond the one they currently claim to fight.
When they no longer have fulani herdsmen to attack with their weapons, they will turn to you, in greater proportion and there will no longer be anyone to evict or give quit notice.
9. Then, the circle of violence will continue, against you, by the people you enable.
10. However, if we resist the temptation of self help or blaming each other, but instead focus on holding government accountable and forcing them to take responsibility, we would have acted better than the herdsmen.
I therefore call on all well meaning Nigerians to become a voice of reason in this trying period, not re-echo or aggravate the situation.
Abdulrazaq Hamzat is a peacebuilding professional. He can be reached at [email protected]