Senior Advocate of Nigeria Femi Falana says the Federal Government of Nigeria needs to take Nigerians seriously over the crisis of herdsmen and farmers clashes which has led to the killings of many in the country.
The Lagos-based lawyer said this on Friday when he appeared as a guest on Channels Television Breakfast Programme Sunrise Daily.
“I think we are chasing the shadows, as a people and the government is simply parading Nigerians as a bunch of jokers. It is not rocket science to solve this problem.
“I am bothered when leaders come out to make statements that give the impression that we are either out to cover up serious criminality. The killing of any human being in any part of the world is a serious matter,” he said.
The issue of herdsmen and farmers clashes, Falana said is a problem Nigeria has been confronting for over five years and many have died in the process.
“We have been in this problem for five years running and nobody is addressing the problems. In 2012, according to the global terrorism index, 1,229 people were killed. In 2014, we lost about 1,300 people. Benue State alone, between 2013 and 2016, lost about 1,800 people.
“This government knew this problem before it came on board. It was part of its campaign. The government has to take Nigerians serious.”
Falana who is also a human rights activist said the phenomenon where people take cattle around the country is not Nigerian culture but a recent development. He said ranches once exist in North, West and Southern region of Nigeria and it is an important way of solving the recent herdsmen and farmers clashes in the country.
“In 1951 we had the first cattle ranch in Nigeria, in Obudu Calabar. Now it’s been converted into Obudu holiday resort. Ahmadu Bello regime in the north established the Mokwa ranch. The Obafemi Awolowo regime in the West in the 50’s established the Akunnu ranch, now in Ondo State.
“This was not our culture. Where people take cattle around the country, it is not our culture, it is a recent phenomenon. No animal was destroying anybody’s farm, until recently.
“Nobody will be wasting his time enacting anti-open grazing law if we have ranches. We don’t need to go far to learn how to keep an animal in this country. Taking cattle from Sokoto to Lagos, grazing is primitive,” he said.
Lamenting over the increased number of deaths due to farmers and herdsmen clashes, he said the killing of anyone, whether Fulani or Benue is criminal and should be jointly condemned by everyone.
“The right to life is the most basic fundamental right because you need to be alive to enjoy other rights. So why are we trying to single out killings by these bandits?
“Don’t talk about Benue people have been killed, Fulani people have been killed, let us agree as a nation that the killing of any citizen or foreigner in our country is an assault on our collective morality.”