Mr Ken Ukaoha, President, National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) has commended the Federal Government over the current initiative of open nationwide consultations to end the incessant clashes between farmers and herdsmen.
Ukaoha told our correspondent in Abuja on Thursday that the consultation was a way of extending an olive branch to the perpetrators of such crimes.
According to him, the Federal Government has commenced nationwide consultations with community, traditional, religious and opinion leaders led by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo towards ending the incessant farmers-herdsmen clashes.
Ukaoha noted that violent conflicts between nomadic herders from northern Nigeria and sedentary farming communities in the central and southern zones had escalated in recent years and were spreading southward, threatening the country’s security and stability.
It was reported that Osinbajo flagged off the consultation by hosting some traditional rulers from Adamawa at the State House in Abuja on December 12, 2017.
The meeting was sequel to Osinbajo’s visit to Adamawa on December 5, 2017, in the wake of communal clashes in the area.
The meeting had in attendance the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi 11; the Lamido of Adamawa, Muhammadu Barkindo Musdafa and other leaders of the Fulani communities.
“With an estimated death toll of approximately 2,500 people in 2016, these clashes are becoming as potentially dangerous as the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East.
“As these conflicts increase in frequency, intensity and geographical scope, so do their humanitarian and economic toll exacerbate,” said Ukoha.
He said although government’s assertive action was long overdue, the consultation was a way of extending an olive branch to the perpetrators of such crimes across the country.
“The Government should, however, bear in mind that the killer herdsmen may require more than consultation.
“Therefore, they should be properly identified and consequently prosecuted with the long arm of the law so that others who are planning or intending to do same will be able to learn their lessons,” he said.
Ukaoha said such legal actions would further strengthen government’s recognition of the sanctity of human rights of citizens, particularly the right to life.
He said to this end, government and well-meaning Nigerians must be ready to condemn in the most unequivocal terms the acts of violence perpetrated by any person, particularly the killing and maiming of women and children.