A former military Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd), has urged the Nigerian government to devise strategic means of stopping the proliferation of small arms in the country.
Abubakar said this against a backdrop of the criminal activities being perpetrated by killer Fulani herdsmen across the country.
He said this during a live television programme on Arise TV on Thursday morning monitored by SaharaReporters.
These crimes of killing, abduction, rape and destruction of farmlands have recently become a nightmare of farmers and their communities in the South-West.
Speaking on what the government should do to curb the worsening criminal activities, Abubakar said, “On the part of the government, I think what we can do is to try and see how to stop the proliferation of small arms in the country.”
The former army general lamented that the problems the country is experiencing presently are attributed to herders carrying deadly weapons.
“It is unfortunate recently that herders have started arming themselves and causing some of the problems we are going through.”
He also warned governors not to make careless utterances so as to prevent possible crises in the future. He went further to suggest that they should encourage and provide cattle ranching in their states, with social amenities to complement them.
“As for the governors, you ask what they can do. One, they must make sure that there is law and order in their states. And they should watch their utterances because whatever they say people will take it. So, they as governors should be aware of what they say, they should not say anything that will be misread by the fighting people who are not from their state of origin.
“Having said that, there must be a dialogue between the people who they feel are committing crimes in their area. Certainly, if someone is committing a crime, they should be arrested and prosecuted.
“In terms of what the government can do, let me give you an example of the Niger State here. Well, they have started cattle ranching in some areas, and trying to get herders to put their cattle and to provide necessary facilities such as water points, veterinary stations, and so on and so forth and also to put schools for the children of the communities living in around.
“Nigeria has been (around) for a long time and we have been living with each other. There is no part of this country you will go that you will not find Nigerians living happily together. So, in terms of what an individual can do, it is to make sure that we liaise with the government, in helping the government in fighting the crimes with intelligence.
“Well, it is unfortunate. If you go through the history of farmers and herders, all over the world, there is this problem, especially in Africa. But some countries have found ways to address this problem. And I think Nigeria also we should now study what other countries have done in order to implement such actions so as to finish these problems.
“The governors have found themselves in a difficult situation. It is their responsibility to govern their state regardless of who is living in their states. So, it is sad that suddenly ethnic disharmony is spreading all over the place. You could see where the herders are being chased from some parts of the South-Western states.
“And their cattle are being killed. Certainly, this will heighten tension in the country. And you could see some people are migrating from one part of the country back to their states where they feel safer.
“God forbid this is taking us back to the 1960s where this kind of problem resulted in the Civil War. People who are old enough know what has happened. So, that’s why the Peace Committee and myself are calling for caution so that we do not go back to that route.”