A report on the killing of Christians by Islamist Fulani herdsmedn has been thrown out by the Nigerian Senate because it does not take the scale of the problem seriously.
“This Senate will not pay lip service to it, neither will it sit idly by and watch innocent Nigerians being slaughtered on the basis of their religion, ethnic group or political persuasion,” declared Nigeria’s Senate president, Bukola Saraki.
He threw out the report by an Ad Hoc Committee set up in January to investigate the massacre of Christians in Southern Kaduna since December 2016.
Critics of the report said that it came up short in addressing the plight face by Christians in the middle belt region of the country. Attacks by the Islamic herdsmen have killed over 1000 people. Over 50 villages have been sacked, hundreds have been injured and nearly 1500 houses destroyed and 16 churches devastated.
The committee was mandated to cover all states devastated by the Islamist Fulani cattle herdsmen in the country including Zamfara, Kaduna, Benue, Enugu, Abia, Taraba, Nasarawa, Delta, Edo and Kano. But the committee, headed by Sen. Kabiru Gaya, from Kano state, visited only Kaduna and Zamfara states.
The Senate said the report lacked depth. The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ikweremadu said, “This Senate must accord this issue the seriousness it deserves. The report needs to be deeper than this; the recommendation needs to reflect more of the seriousness of the matter.”
Sen Baranabas Gemade, from Benue state where Islamist Fulani herdsmen have killed dozens of people, said that the report seemed to be an interim one and therefore the ad-hoc committee should go back and do some more work. “There are many aspects of insurgency and disturbance in these areas; there is the aspect of cattle rustling and nomads straying into farmlands, disturbing people,” he said.
“Where is that law that provided free assets of nomads in West Africa to go wherever they like, however they like and do whatever they like. “These are issues we must deal with. We must come to a point where we are in total agreement of what is good for everybody,” he said.
Senator Danjuma La’ah from Kaduna South, reminded the senate that, “since 2011, various communities in Southern Kaduna senatorial district of Kaduna State have been consistently attacked by herdsmen, resulting in deaths, injuries, loss of property and displacement of the communities… In the last one year, we have witnessed a harvest of killings by these marauding herdsmen with several cases of massacre in Agatu, Benue State; Uzo Uwani, Enugu State, with several attacks in Taraba, Delta and Edo states, to mention a few.” The committee’s report falls short of any serious considerations.
“I consider this issue to be very serious. We must accord it the seriousness it deserves. The committee has confirmed that the killings happened. The recommendations need to reflect more on the seriousness of this matter.” Ikweremadu added “We were told that the Nigerian Customs Service intercepted arms. Till this day, we have not been told who imported the arms… We cannot sit back and allow our women and children to be killed every day. Our people are being killed in Enugu, Kaduna, Zamfara and in other parts of the country. This matter is serious enough for the committee to go back and do more work.”
Senator Gemade criticised a recommendation that special grazing routes be created for herdsmen, while neglecting the plight of farmers.