The influx of foreign herdsmen

LAST Tuesday, the House of Representatives called on the Federal Government to prevent herdsmen in other countries from entering Nigeria. Consequently, the House scheduled a meeting with the heads of security agencies in the country on how to checkmate illegal entry by foreign herders. The Green Chamber’s resolution followed a unanimously adopted motion titled ‘Need to Stop the Entry of herdsmen from other African Countries into Nigeria.’ It urged the Federal Government to “put a halt to the entry of herdsmen from other African countries into Nigeria.”

Moving the motion, the Minority Leader, Honourable Ndudi Elumelu, said the House was concerned by the fact that militant herdsmen had consistently instilled fear in local farmers and villagers living in the affected areas by the use of coercion, intimidation, brute force and extreme violence which in most cases left a large number of persons dead. He added that the House was also concerned that the escalating violent conflicts between the nomadic herders from neighbouring countries and local farmers could spill over into more states of the federation if left unchecked, thus further threatening its security and stability.

The House’s resolution came on the heels of the call by the Kano State governor, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, on the Federal Government to seek a review of the West African protocols that allowed free movement, in order to stop herdsmen’s migration into northern Nigeria. According to Ganduje, it had become imperative for the government to use the international blockade created by the Covid-19 pandemic to stop the migration of weapons-carrying herdsmen into the country. As he noted, “Such movements by the herdsmen always cause conflicts and destruction of human lives.”

We are in full agreement with call by Governor Ganduje and the House of Reps. Every modern state is supposed to have territorial integrity. But as we have noted time and again, the herdsmen have serially violated the country’s territorial integrity, collaborating with members of their ethnic brood to commit atrocities. Over the years, but particularly in the last five years, the herdsmen have made life miserable for thousands of Nigerians, invading and burning down entire communities while massacring men, women and children and any livestock in sight. They have set fire to their victims’ farms on countless occasions. They have subjected women to extremely brutal rapes before their husbands, and violated girls before their parents. They have committed war crimes while the Federal Government, credibly accused of failing to tame their bestial rage, shirked its constitutional responsibilities with abandon.

On countless occasions, the herdsmen have made travel on the country’s highways a nightmare for law-abiding citizens. The sordid and nasty details of Nigerians’ encounter with these vile persons are too numerous to list here. Many of those lucky to escape instant death have been maimed for life. From the North to the South, the herdsmen have committed horrendous crimes without any challenge from the authorities. They have treated Nigerians with utmost scorn for years, basking in the government’s failure to apprehend and assure their comprehensive punishment through the laws of the land. If the atrocities must stop, the Federal Government must shelve its usual excuses and take the battle to these terrorists. It must police the country’s borders with fresh vigour.

There is no serious country that allows foreigners into its shores without documentation. When the killer herdsmen realise that there is no more space to perpetrate their atrocities in the country, they would flee its shores.

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