The Federal Government has denied treating Fulani herdsmen and their alleged criminal activities with kid gloves because of their ethnic origin.
In an interview with TheCable, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said part of the immediate causes of the herdsmen-farmers clashes is the issue of climate change in the Lake Chad region, the influx of foreign herders and the proliferation of small arms from Mali, Libya, and Niger Republic into the country.
Mohammed also said the government is treating the issue of Fluni herdsmen differently from that of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The minister said the government proscribed IPOB because they are a secessionist group, while killer herdsmen are criminals, adding that it’s not correct to say the government is treating herdsmen with kid gloves.
He said: “You see, IPOB as a group does not even recognise the sovereignty of Nigeria. This is a secessionist group. The killer herdsmen are criminals. Now, the way you treat criminals is you pursue them, you arrest them, and you prosecute them.
“The way you treat secessionist group, you proscribe them. So, you see, we keep comparing oranges with apples. I had the opportunity to say this somewhere this week, that even IPOB will be very upset that you’re comparing them with the killer herdsmen.
“We have a group that has its own constitution as a country, and refuse to accept the sovereignty of Nigeria. You have nothing to compare them with some common criminals. So, the treatment is different. Two, it’s not correct to say the government is treating herdsmen with kid gloves.”
Mohammed appealed to the media to show more responsibility in handling cases of intra-ethnic conflicts, either between herdsmen and farmers or between religious groups.
He added: “And I want to appeal to the media to please show more responsibility in handling cases of intra-ethnic conflicts, either between herdsmen and farmers or between religious groups. See, Nigeria’s strength lies in its diversity.
“We have been living together very peacefully for years and we’ll continue to live together. Let’s address issues that will cause friction. I don’t want to lecture anybody, but let’s ask ourselves, ‘what are the immediate causes of these herdsmen-farmers clashes?’ It goes beyond Fulani wanting to dominate Nigeria as they say.
“We’re talking about climate change. Between now and 50 years ago, Lake Chad has lost 90 percent of its water surface. Up till 50 years ago, about seven countries in West Africa, Central Africa relied on the Lake Chad for their water resources, for their farming, for their irrigation, and for grazing.
“With over 90 percent of the water lost now, they’re moving southwards. That is one major reason for the conflict. Another is that, you see, with the Sahel in turmoil, with Libya disintegrating, there is proliferation of small arms; if you look at it — Libya, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger Republic — these are all in one form of turmoil or the other. It’s bound to affect Nigeria.”