Google+ Followers

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Fed Govt to deregister NGOs over terrorism, money laundering

THE Federal Government has begun the profiling of Non-Governmental organisations (NGOs) with the intention of deregistering those involved in questionable activities.
It was learnt that the measure was aimed at curbing money laundering and terrorist financing,
The profiling activities presently being carried out by the Special Control Unit on Money Laundering (SCUML), Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and the Federal Ministry of Finance (FMF) is in compliance with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendation.
The FATF recommendation requires countries to adopt necessary measures to prevent the use of NGOs for nefarious activities.
NFIU’s Director Francis Usani, who broke the news in Abuja yesterday, said the need to profile and review activities of NGOs were informed by the realisation that the groups have become “veritable tools to launder money and finance terrorism”.
Usani said the government was also exploring other options, including sensitising NGOs on their obligations to ensure they do not unwittingly yield themselves to terrorists and other criminals.
The NFIU Director spoke at a “regional workshop on the development of effective frameworks and structure to fight terrorist financing/money laundering through non-profit organisations (NPOs)”.
It was organised by the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).
“It is obvious that Designated Non-Financial Business or Profession (DNFBP) and particularly NPOs pose a major challenge in our respective Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) culture, and this challenge has been identified in our various national risk assessments.
“There are case studies in Nigeria and in the West African sub-region and globally too, where NPOs have been used as veritable tools to launder money and finance terrorism,” Usani said.
He added that the realisation of this fact informed why FATF, under its Recommendation 8, directed that countries should review the adequacy of laws and regulations that relate to NPOs/NGOs that could be abused for the financing of terrorism.
GIABA’s Director General Kimelabalou Aba said the workshop was to educate players in the NPOs and a measure to protect NPOs against abuses because their extended logistical networks, large transitory workforces, cash-intensive nature of operations now make them highly vulnerable to terrorist financing.
Mrs. Stella Maduka of the Federal Ministry of Finance blamed the growing unemployment rate globally for the increasing in terrorist activities.

They hated her because she fought them to the bitter end. A tribute to Winnie Mandela.

The growing distasteful commentary by white South Africans and some Negropeans on the death of Winnie Mandela not only displays their sadistic nature towards black lives, but that they have always wanted Winnie Mandela's blood.

When the brutality of their earnest system of murder, hatred and ceaseless violence couldn't break her convictions and loyalty to freedom nor kill her unyielding resilience during apartheid peak hour, they sought to speak ill about her to finish what apartheid couldn't do, which is to assassinate and terminate her character.

What they forget is that Winfred Nomzamo Madikizela Mandela was never for them; they who stripped her of her personal dignity, imprisoned her against her universal human rights, ridiculed her private life and injured her womanhood.

Winfred was for us the African children, whose parents were criminalized by whiteness and all its elements, for demanding their freedom, African voices and their land from a bitterly hateful settler minority. Winfred was for the migrant blacks who were forced by the white establishment to go waste their lives away at the peripheral wasteland of racial hatred, engineered poverty, tribal drunkenness and generational seed of ignorance and death.

Today, they cry over Stompie Seipie as if they ever cared about him when they actually killed millions of Stompie Seipie's because they wanted to get to Winfred and those she protected with her life. At some point, South Africa was a huge industrial imprisonment complex to hold back black lives. Its poorly established hospitals and schools for blacks were concentration camps for blacks to die. The South African police and the army, not only beat, hanged and hated black lives but fed chemical and biological agents to both the young and old simply because they were black militants who agitated for freedom and for the collapse and removal of white minority rule.

The white men in South Africa today has no moral codes to pass judgement on whether Winfred was right or wrong. They have no such capacity. They shouldn't even be allowed to possess such audacity to be parasitic to her death because they have always wanted to see her black body wheeled to the graveyard in Soweto, accompanied by cries of shack dwellers and poor migrant workers. They wanted her dead many years ago. They wanted her prosecuted and persecuted where the system failed. Simply because she was Winfred Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela.

Winfred was strong, beautiful and angry. And they hated that. They despised Winfred for her strength because she was us. And because she was us, she was in a perpetual state of rebellion and Revolution.

They wanted to railroad her, to distract and destroy her.

But they failed.

At some point when the struggle to free the African Child and the family from the yoke of white rule, and the struggle was zigzagging to the horizon, it was Winfred who breathed a new lease of life into it. She singlehandedly resuscitated a people's revolution when all men were either in bandages, imprisoned or forced to run to foreign bushes and hostile environments to regroup.

She held many forts for many people.

Even when there will be a time in the future when it will no longer be profitable and fashionable to quote struggle heroes and freedom fighters to justify blackness, Winfred will always remain what Marcus Garvey and Kwame Nkhruma calls "A Black Star."

She was way ahead of the politics of politics. She was about the politics of black African people.

And Winfred was beyond the rhetoric of freedom songs and the politics of oppression because some of those who persecuted her in freedom, were her own comrades and black people whom she sacrificed so much for by giving them her all. Many still tell hurtful lies about her sincerities in a bid to silence her character in democracy, but they failed because they couldn't touch her inner soulful mystery. When they wanted to write her off pages of history, black lives from squatter camps, mining and cotton fields of South Africa, walked her back into history books to represent them in the house of the master and Uncle Toms.

And anyone who sought to tame her was always compensated with her full flight into immeasurable rage. No one could railroad her. She refused to listen and to behave. Winfred was defiant to the last drop of blood against any human system that sought to silence her in marriage, in war and peacetime. She was too rebellious to cry for herself and her black children. Instead, she healed the wounded, nursed the broken pieces of black lives back to life, comforted the widows whilst leading the militant and radicals to the battlefields across the country. For many years, she became the struggle anchor of our lives so much so that it didn't matter to us when she lost her titles as the First Lady. Infact, she carried our brokenness and hers and soldiered on. With the weight of our suffocation and burden of desperate agitations, she walked taller in pointed ways to the promised land, which like Martin Luther King, she will never fully enjoy because she was betrayed by many because none was braver and clearer than Winfred Madikizela Mandela.

Still her life sadness and brokenness is nothing compared to her nurturing rebellious nature that earned her the undisputed title of "Mother of the Nation". She fought for the African Child way better than biological mothers did for their own.

Even in death, Winfred is still rebellious. She just decided to go unexpectedly when everybody is resting during Easter holidays to test their faith in humanity and universality of beliefs. She was an unusual being. A very rare animal that fought some of her biggest battles alone without retreat. She used her awake mind and depth of her consciousness to fight army generals and their troops. She prevailed over the world of injustices, war and hate, without firing a single bullet.

She fought a great fight; a long, bitter fight that can never be measured by the length of time nor the amount of blood lost in rage and endurance.

Go well Nubian Beauty. Go well the black rose of the black revolution across the world. You will forever remain our black goddess; the deity of a black revolution both in life and death. Soon, we the black ones, will worship the grounds you walked in your times of great pains and the greatest moments of joy of all your 81 years. Go well fighter.

Rest in Power

Mama Nobadle Nomzamo the princess of Madikizela family.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

After the general elections of 2015 were won & lost, emerged a resistance movement..

*Ibie Galileo*

Firstly, & as a carry over from the campaigns leading up to the elections, they spun an "islamization agenda where PMB was falsely accused of wanting to Islamize the nation.. Somehow that lost its potency.. Then they sponsored & promoted the IPOB crisis.. After that failed, they jumped on restructuring & regionalism.. That too lost steam.. Then came the unusually "stealthy" & commando-like Fulani herdsmen (who somehow attacked communities with precision techniques, escaping quickly  in formations, one wonders how easy that can be with the usually slow cattle herds in tow). That too is fast losing its potency.. Also there emerged many other resistance schemes like the cry of marginalization, & the likes.. Somehow, they all faded out in phases... Now there's the remake of the 2014 Chibok card, the Dapchi abductions (which is quite frankly sad & shocking, & one can only empathize with the girls & their families at this time).. Somehow, & to the consternation of many hoping to benefit from the tragedy, the govt is reacting honestly, accepting responsibility & taking different courses of actions.. Hopefully, the girls are found quickly &, that too looses its potency..

But in all of these, one can certainly recognize entrenched interests behind the scenes.. And such desperation to undermine the govt & return to those "years of the locusts" must be resisted.. PMB might not the most ideal, or most intelligent president.., but he's no crook. He means well, & he's looking to end those years of impunity & stone-aged looting of our commonwealth.., & if for nothing else, that alone is enough to support him.. Because of for decades we've all agreed that taming the menace of corruption was a foremost national survival priority., then we must as well support this Spartan president of ours..

Only wish the state govts & LGAs can key into the anti corruption fight to make it total., cos as it is, mindless & unaccountable mismanagement of public funds still take place in many states & LGAs., unfortunately the constitutional separation of powers makes it difficult for PMB to do something about those.. But hopefully they (the states & LGAs) see the benefits of schemes like the TSA & the plugging loopholes & leakage to govt funds like PMB is achieving at the national level.. Maybe then, they might be able to pay salaries in many of the states, unlike the case is currently..

Resistance to the national govt must be identified for what it is.., & using national tragedies & sometimes outright falsehoods to achieve those aims must also be isolated.. It really troubles one, the extent of the desperation some elements are willing to go to return to power., including the very foul & most obnoxious of means.. That, Nigerians must come to terms with., hopefully.. Ideally, periods of national disasters should have ordinarily been occasions for the nation to bond together in unity & solidarity to face those challenges.. Unfortunately in our climes, they're opportunities to achieve political, sectional or religious advantages.., not minding the costs to the nation, those directly affected or the generality of Nigerians..

Our unique variant of political resistance is unfit for purpose, destructive to national interests, & not innocent or credible enough to produce a desired alternative to the national govt in place.. The resistance is perhaps in greater need of self correction & upgrade than those they hope to overhaul..

Wednesday, 28 February 2018


 By Godwin Erhahon,  Benin City.

Yesterday's  resolution of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) extending the tenure of the Chief  John Odigie-Oyegun-led Executive by one year must have surprised many.

This is so because of the tensions generated by the letter written to him and made public last week by the National Leader of the party,  Asiwaju Bola  Tinibu accusing him of sabotaging the national reconciliation assignment which President Muhammadu Buhari entrusted him (the great Asiwaju) with .

It was widely expected that at least Chief  Odigie-Oyegun,  if not his entire EXCO,  would be sacked at the meeting.

But the meeting ended on a win win note with the national chairman being rewarded for his good leadership with a one year tenure extension bonus and Asiwaju  receiving commendations for his reconciliation efforts.

What better result could the governing party have wished for?

Those of us who have known Chief Odigie-Oyegun closely since he ventured from post-retirement business life into politics in 1990 leading to his heroeic victory in the December 14, 1991 governorship election in Edo State on the platform of the then Social Democratic Party (SDP)only laughed at those who predicted that he would fall at the meeting.

Having worked also with President Buhari consistently since 2003, I know the President is one who cannot be swayed by cheap propaganda nor goaded into rash decisions to please a maddening crowd.

Chief Odigie-Oyegun is not a greedy leader who can easily be challenged on ground of corruption or infidelity.

As he meticulously chooses his words  so does he cautiously takes his actions.

This meticulousity of his is what some often misread as weakness.

Having led APC to defeat a wild  ruling PDP in the 2015 presidential election and claimed some states from the defeated ruling party subsequently ,  only the crass igrates within the APC would wish him disgraced out of office.

Like the barbwire,  Chief Odigie-Oyegun may look flexible and fragile but his heart is stronger than steel and larger than the Zuma Rock just as his vision is  holy and divine because as a devout catholic, he communes with his Maker  on the next line of action to take.

Back home in Edo State,  he has continued to tolerate those who often muck his old age and try to provoke him into duel while he prayerfully leaves all to God.

But by his mature approach,  he has continued to disgrace his detractors.

 A national Chairman who is spitefully denied any input to the selection of candidates or political appointees in his home state governed by his party and yet would not protest even when his teaming followers urge him to, is surely endowed with patience and tolerance as potent winning strategy !

As the Binis would say :"it is God who chases those chasing the innocent dealf and dump! "

 As the great author and inspirational speaker,  Robbert  Schullar said : "Tough times never last but tough people do ".

Tough times for Chief Odigie-Oyegun is over but the titanic Chief tugs on.              

He will lead APC through the next primaries , general elections and  inauguration of the next government which his destiny guarantees for the governing party.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018


Gen. John Shagaya and late Gen. Joe Garba are military officers, I admired. The last appointment of Gen. Joe Garba before he passed on was DG, NIPSS, Kuru, Jos. Coincidentally, Gen. John Shagaya's appointment was also as DG, NIPSS. Both are from Langtang and belonged to the dreaded Langtang Military Mafia.
I met Gen. Joe Garba, one on one in London, in 1976 through his younger brother and my friend,  then Captain Sunny Garba, who was his ADC. My relationship with Sunny started in the early 70s as a High School student in Lagos. My paternal aunt had her house on 86 Obalende Rd, at the corner of Obalende Rd  and Keffi street, right opposite Dodan Barracks, then the seat of power.
In 1976, Joe Garba was then Commissioner(Minister) of External Affairs. Representing Nigeria, in the Commonwealth Summit in London, he was a delight to watch and an attraction to the British media for interviews. That almost sparked a conflict between the Gen. Shehu Musa Yar'adua's camp that led the Nigerian delegation to the summit  and Joe Garba's camp. Joe Garba influence and charisma, overshadowed that of Shehu Musa Yar'ardua. This spilled over to Major Jokolo and Captain Sunny Garba, both ADCs to the two Generals. The two ADCs, were consequently disarmed, to forestall escalation of the conflict or division in the delegation. I am not sure this was reported in the Nigeria media at the time.
I returned to Nigeria in 1979 after my studies for the NYSC assignment in Kaduna. Gen. Joe Garba was the Commandant of the NDA, Kaduna. Our path crossed once again.
I had two friends(medical Doctors) at the NDA enrolled into the Direct Short Service(DSS) Course. Their military hero then was late Mamman Vasta. They claimed he was a brilliant military officer and a poet. I had not heard of Vasta at the time, but I told them that they had a most brilliant military officer as their Commandant, in Joe Garba. We held on to our opinions.
Few weeks, later, my friends came back to me smiling and admitted that I was right in my assessment of Joe Garba.
What convinced them? They said Joe Garba came into the lecture room without any note or text book and lectured them on OAU. What can anyone lecture or talk about on OAU, in anytime more than 30 minutes? Joe Garba lectured for two hours, non stop on the subject!
I met Gen. John Shagaya for the first time in 2015 as co-members of the Presidential Inauguration Committee, in Abuja at the Aso Rock Villa, Festival Hall. He was head of the Security Committee and I was a member of the Transport & Logistics Committee. We both came early for a scheduled PIC meeting and while waiting for others and members of his committee to arrive, he sat with myself and few other committee members. When his security committee members arrived, including present DG, DSS, Lawal Daura, Gen. India Garba AIG Bawa Lawal and other top security officers, I stood up to take my leave and jokingly said that "bloody civilians" are not for the security committee. He politely told me to sit down and lectured us on how the term "bloody civilians" came about.
Post PIC, I met him early last year, 2017, with his younger sister at the National Hospital, Abuja, still without an appointment for him. That saddened me. However, he encouraged me to be patient as things will get better for good. In our circle at the time, we thought John Shagaya will be appointed as either the Minister of Defence or Minister of Internal Affairs. This did not come to pass.
At last, he got appointed as the DG, NIPSS to reposition the Institute. His last posting outside his military postings! He died! On a road he travelled several times, day and night! The question posed by this post highlighted is was he *simply killed*? Just like Joe Garba before him? My condolences to the people of Langtang, the families of the two Generals, their military constituency and Nigeria, for the loss of the two great and selfless Nigerians.
This riddle, just as others, may not be unravelled.
Rest in peace, Generals Joe Garba and John Shagaya. Your struggles for a nation and  to install this government, will not be in vain.

Edwin Ogunbor

Thursday, 8 February 2018


President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja explained that the policy proposed by Federal Government in response to the frequent clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the country is not meant to colonize any part of the country.
Receiving Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) led by Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, President Buhari said the intention of government is to create grazing locations for cattle rearers, which has now been misconstrued as another form of colonization.
President Buhari regretted that the well-thought out policy of the Federal Government, which was conceived after wide consultations with stakeholders, had been largely misunderstood by a section of the public.
He, however, assured the Catholic Bishops that the Federal Government will continue to explore all opportunities and support initiatives to ensure peace and stability in restive areas.
Condemning recent spate of killings in Benue, Adamawa, Taraba, and Zamfara states, the President said security operatives would ensure prosecution of perpetrators and all those found with illegal arms in the affected areas.
‘‘The impression created that I was sitting in an air-conditioned office and home, enjoying myself while these things happened, is dishonest.
‘‘At every step, I have tried to foresee these problems because I have the experience as a former military officer who commanded three out of the four divisions of the Nigerian army, in Lagos, Ibadan and Jos.
‘‘I am quite aware of the problems we have and I am doing my best to get law enforcement agencies to be on alert,’’ he said.
The President told the Catholic Bishops that he would not be tired of recounting remarkable progress recorded in the areas of security, economy and the fight against corruption.
‘‘We have done very well on security in the North East, when you compare what the condition was before we came in and what it is now.
‘‘On the economy, particularly agriculture, I am very pleased that God answered the prayers of Nigerians who prayed for bountiful harvest.
‘‘People have taken advantage of Federal Government policies and programmes to return to the farm and they have not regretted,’’ he said.
On the fight against corruption, the President reiterated that government would be guided by the law in the investigation and prosecution of all graft-related cases.
‘‘People are being prosecuted systematically with evidence.
‘‘If a permanent secretary has five houses in Abuja, two in Kaduna and one in Borno and Sokoto and he can’t account for the properties and there are bank transactions linking him to the properties, the prosecuting agencies will not have difficulties to make progress on the case."
On the question of Federal character, the President declared that no ethnic group or political zone has been deliberately marginalised in the appointments made so far.
He, however, added that he would take a second look at areas on which issues have been raised, when a compendium of all government appointments is submitted to him.
In his remarks, Archbishop Kaigama pledged that the Catholic Church in Nigeria would continue to support the Buhari administration and make its contribution to nation-building through prayers, admonitions and assistance to needy Nigerians.
‘‘As the voice of the people, we shall continue to highlight the plight of our people and play our prophetic role of sensitising the government, thus promoting good governance, national unity and cohesion,’’ Kaigama said.

Special Adviser to the President
Media & Publicity
February 8, 2018



*Says President is very concerned & working hard to resolve the crisis

*"I do not know of any one issue that has given him more concern or on which he has spent more time with Security Chiefs as this particular issue."

*No one is giving land to anyone, as is being falsely alleged. Instead, it is our view that States that are willing and which have set aside land for development should cooperate with willing investors in commercially viable, government-supported ranches or livestock production centres for commercial use.



I am deeply grateful to the distinguished and honorable members of the National Assembly for this very kind invitation, to speak at this crucial National Security Summit. And I especially commend the distinguished majority leader of the Senate, Senator Ahmed Lawan who leads the ad-hoc committee on Security Infrastructure. I also want to say a special thank you to the Senate President for giving me the opportunity of declaring this meeting open.

Hosting this summit underscores your recognition, that the primary business of government is law and order. And by government, I mean the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary.

I am sure that distinguished members will recall, that the National Economic Council, comprising the Federal and State governments, had held a similar security summit in August last year, at which we had the eminent company of the leadership of the National Assembly, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and all Service Chiefs and several other stakeholders.

That Summit was important because it took into account the several security challenges our country have faced over the years and currently still facing. Also in September 2017 the month after, the federal government, after a year-long consultation with stakeholders, hosted a Stakeholders’ Conference on a 10 – year plan themed "Search of Sustainable Livestock Development and Peaceful Co-existence". That plan was launched at that conference in September. I am going to talk a bit about some of the issues that were raised at that conference.

This very important security summit is an important part of the on-going engagements with stakeholders on the security concerns of our nation.

I am extremely pleased and support fully the Senate President when he said the challenges of our security infrastructure are the concern of all of us and not just those of us in government but all of who are concerned about the peace and harmony of our nation.

Your Excellency, distinguished members of the National Assembly, Nigeria entered the New Year on a tragic and bloody note; 73 persons were murdered in Benue State by persons who were suspected to be herdsmen. To the North, in southern Kaduna, Kaduna State, a traditional ruler and his pregnant wife were murdered in their home. Down south, in Rivers, a cult murdered more than 20 innocent persons returning from a church vigil. On the 3rd of January, 14 worshippers were killed in a mosque at Gamboru, and on the 17th of January, a suicide bombing attack in Maiduguri claimed 10 lives.  

These incidents immediately served as a reminder that there is no room for complacency in the task of securing Nigeria, even against the backdrop of the remarkable progress we’ve recorded in the most critical of our security challenges at a time: the fight against Boko Haram.

Indeed, Boko Haram is a good starting point for a conversation about security in Nigeria as we go on to the more current and contemporary concerns we have. How a small band of religious proselytizers evolved into the biggest threat to the sovereignty of Nigeria in five decades is a question that has occupied and perhaps, even defied researchers and law enforcement agencies for years.

In 2015, when the Buhari administration took office, much of Northern Eastern Nigeria lay beneath the palpable shadow of the terrorist group. In the two and half years since then, our military has done a remarkable job, reclaiming Nigerian territory, rescuing tens of thousands of civilians, and routing Boko Haram. Today the group is a shadow of itself, forced to resort to cowardly suicide bombings and other attacks on soft targets in a desperate bid at attention-seeking.

Boko Haram was by no means the only security challenge we inherited when we took office in 2015. Cattle rustling, pronounced in the Northwest; clashes between farmers and herdsmen in the North Central region in particular and spreading out to other regions of Nigeria, militant activity in the South-south and parts of the Southwest, simmering ethnic agitation in the Southeast, and kidnapping across the entire country. There was also the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) in the Northwest, increasingly emboldened to challenge the authority of the State.

The scale and breadth of these security challenges, especially because they occurred in far flung locations in the country, profoundly tasked the nation’s security architecture. I want to say that because of the spread and diversity of these threats, the nation’s security architecture was stretched, engaging in several parts of the country and with the numbers that we have, that in itself posed a problem for tackling as robustly as possible, many of the challenges that we faced.

But we must say on behalf of the security agencies that they have been deliberate and determined in their responses. For obvious reasons, we have since assuming office, prioritized the anti-terrorism campaign in the Northeast.

Understandably, as Boko Haram has receded in the public consciousness – in the 2017 Global Terrorism Index reported that deaths from terrorism dropped 80 percent in Nigeria in 2016; the biggest decrease worldwide – other security challenges have shuffled forward to take the place of Boko Haram threats.

This does not mean that these challenges are newly-emergent. What is new, is our approach and determination to contain these threats and protect the lives and property of all Nigerians. This determination can mostly be seen in the way our security agents in particular have dealt with Boko Haram and several of the threats in parts of the country.

Over the last three years, some of Nigeria’s deadliest criminal kingpins have been arrested or killed. I think credit must go to the security agencies for this. Khalid al-Barnawi, head of the al-Qaeda linked Ansaru terror group, and one of the most wanted terrorists in the world, arrested in Kogi State in April 2016; kidnap kingpin Evans (arrested in Lagos State), Dracula (arrested in Delta), Vampire (arrested in Imo last year). One of the more recent ones is Don Waney, cultist and mastermind of the New Year’s Day attack in Rivers State, killed during a joint operation by the Military and the DSS at the end of 2017. We will not relent in our efforts to bring all of these criminals and others to justice.

Since the beginning of the year, following the massacre in Guma and Logo local governments in Benue, the issue of violence by suspected herdsmen has dominated national attention. And rightly so, as Mr. President himself said, “I am a soldier, I have seen death in warfare but the callous killing of innocent people especially women and children is cowardly and despicable in the extreme and it must prevented or stopped and the perpetrators must be punished”.

In his statement of commiseration to the Governor of Benue State Mr. President said and I quote “This is one attack too many, and everything must be done to provide security for the people in our rural communities, I have ordered the security agencies to find and capture the perpetrators, they must face justice.”

Anyone who has seen the viciousness of the killings, and the wantonness of the damage to property, is bound to be stupefied by the horror.  I was in in Dong village in Adamawa, where herdsmen had attacked the village and killed many. But the vicious killing of Fulani women and children in the same local government in Adamawa State is worthy of mention.

Let me preface this by saying that every Nigerian is entitled to adequate security from government for their lives and livelihoods, government may slip in that responsibility often but I must say never deliberately. Every killing demeans us as a people. Every killing undermines the authority of the State.

This is why the suggestion sometimes, that because President Buhari is Fulani he has ignored the killings by herdsmen is both untrue and unfair. In any event, herdsmen and farmer clashes resulting in deaths have been with us for at least two decades. And I have worked with him for three years now, and I do not know of any one issue that has given him more concern or on which he has spent more time with Security Chiefs as this particular issue.

What then is being done about security? The approach of the government has been to deploy mobile police forces to troubled areas and also both the army and airforce, the Nigerian Army formations and units in Benue State for example, especially 72 Special Forces Battalion, have consistently maintained Forward Operating Bases at the flash areas covering Guma, Logo, Katsina-Ala and Agatu Local Government Areas.

The operation has the generic name Operation MESA, but it is nicknamed Operation ZENDA in Benue State. The Army had within the last few days scaled up the size of troops and equipment in Agatu, Guma, Katsina-Ala and Logo Local Government Areas of Benue State.

The Army also recently deployed troops at Awe and Tunga Local Government Areas of Nasarawa State, in order to monitor and block the gaps that were presumed to be used as staging points by armed herdsmen to attack communities in Benue State.

Additionally, troops of 93 Battalion, Takum in Taraba State, also occupy blocking positions as well as maintain constant liaison with troops in Benue State.

Furthermore, the command and control structure of the Army formations and units in Benue and contiguous states have been reorganized.

Accordingly, more troops were deployed and the Commander 707 Special Forces Brigade was reassigned to Taraba State for effective command and control of troops operating in the entire Benue/Taraba general area. And next week, the Nigerian Army will flag-off Exercise AYEM AKPATUMA, to checkmate the activities of armed bandits and militias in Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa and environs.

Although generally the security forces, the entire infrastructure, have performed creditably given their resource constraints, the problem is that in some of the worst killings, security agents were simply not there in time. Whenever that happens as was the case in Logo, Guma, and Mambilla last year, the failure to protect the lives of the innocent is inexcusable, and we cannot rationalize or diminish that failure of our security apparatus of government in any way.

One direct consequence of the scaling up of military and police presence in these parts of the country most vulnerable to attacks by armed herdsmen and other such attacks, is the arrest and detention of hundreds of suspects. And it is in this vein that we will require not only the full investigation of these cases, but also the cooperation of the Judiciary, to enable the speedy dispensation of justice, so that those who have committed these heinous offences are brought to book and are seen to have been brought to book.

One thread running through all of the security challenges in Nigeria is the proliferation of light arms and small weapons. This age-old problem appears to have intensified in recent years on account of the fall of the Libyan Government under Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. These events unleashed large numbers of well-trained fighters, as well as the contents of Gaddafi’s armories.

Today, all across West Africa security and intelligence agencies are seeing the devastating impact of these mercenaries, and their arms and ammunition.

Complicating our situation in Nigeria, is the porous nature of our more than 4,000km of borders, which allows the easy flow of illegal weapons. To combat this, we are devoting increased resources to our Customs and Immigration agencies, as well as upgrading the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons into a well-resourced Commission for all of the movement of arms going back and forth through our borders.

Another issue worth taking into account is the ECOWAS Transhumance Protocol which Nigeria signed in 1998. This guarantees free movement to pastoralists, herders across the sub-region. As signatories to that Protocol, we are obliged not to restrict the movement of herders and their cattle from other ECOWAS countries.

This has added a further complication to the problems we already have, besides most foreign herdsmen are exposed to the firearms market noted earlier and are unknown to the local farming populace. What we are doing and must continue to do, is to ensure robust documentation of all entry and exit through our borders, and as we develop new methods of cattle breeding, we must get those coming through other countries to comply with the laws of Nigeria.

Because we know that the security solution is only one dimension of a multifaceted issue, we are also working with the State Governments and Local Communities. In January the Ministers of Interior and Agriculture, on behalf of the President, met with the affected State Governors, and Security and Intelligence Agencies, to discuss workable solutions.

The President and I have at various times this year held Stakeholder Meetings to bring all concerned parties to the table and discuss ways of ensuring peace and security.

On January 15, President Buhari met with Benue political, traditional and religious leaders. A week ago, I met with traditional leaders from the Batta and Bachama Communities of Adamawa State. I also met with Fulani groups, the Myetti Allah and several other such groups.

These meetings and consultations are crucial, human beings have not yet to my knowledge, developed another way of reaching understanding aside from dialogue.  There can and will be no lasting peace without dialogue, and that there can never be too much dialogue regarding a matter that involves the safety of the lives and property of Nigerians.

We are also mindful of the peacebuilding efforts of some State Governments. In Plateau State, for example, the Government constituted a Peace and Reconciliation Committee to work with the Berom and Fulani communities which had been at loggerheads for years.

The Government also went ahead to establish the Plateau State Peace Building Agency, the first of its kind by any State Government in Nigeria. Since its creation in 2016, the Agency has fulfilled its mandate of resolving conflicts and tackling the underlying causes and triggers. The results have been encouraging; Plateau State, once the hotbed of ethnic and communal violence in the North Central, has enjoyed a great deal of peace in the last two years.

While some tensions continue to flare up every now and then, there has been none of the high-intensity violence which we have seen in other States. In neighbouring Kaduna State, there have also been efforts to ensure lasting peace. In September 2017, the State Government inaugurated a Peace Commission under the Chairmanship of the Most Reverend Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary-General of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and founder of the Kaduna Center for the Study of Christian-Muslim Relations.

The Federal Government fully endorses these peacebuilding efforts, and will continue to give our support and assistance to State Governments in this regard.

We are also, with the collaboration of States, and the Governors of Benue, Plateau, Adamawa and along with seven other Governors, have constituted the working group which I chair, where they have been seeking to proffer solutions to some of the problems associated with farmer/herdsmen clashes, but in particular, how to ensure that there is a plan for cattle breeding and rearing which takes into account, contemporary methods of doing so in other parts of the world.

Also in collaboration with the States and other stakeholders, we have been developing solutions to the issues of resource scarcity which is at the heart of the conflicts - the increasing competition for grazing land and water heightened by climate change. All stakeholders agree that we must now develop new ideas to prevent clashes between herdsmen and farmers; in particular enabling the cows and herders to become more sedentary. It is obvious that the physical movement of cattle in an endless journey on the move, must now begin to take a different shape. We cannot afford it even from the economic perspective, there must be another way.

We believe when cattle is sedentary, it will improve the productivity of the cattle. Our beef cattle Sokoto Gudali adds 0.5 Kg per day while the Brahma in Brazil which is bred in a ranch adds 2.5kg per day. Our dairy cows produce 1 litre per day, whereas in other parts of Africa, there is production of almost 15 - 20 litres per day.

There is also a clear sense which I think must be appreciated, that the Federal government cannot dictate to States what to do with their land. This is so because the Land Use Act of 1978 puts land under the control of Governors on behalf of their States. Also, the Supreme Court in the case of Attorney General of Lagos State versus the Attorney General of the Federation in 2004, held that use of land resources and permits for such use, lie firmly in the hands of State Governments. Even for use of Federal lands in the States according to the Supreme Court, building or development control permit must be sought from the Governors of the States.

However in several States, especially in the North, there are duly gazetted grazing reserves. A majority of these grazing reserves are degraded and are without pasture or water especially in the dry season.

Grazing routes leading to these reserves, must also be secured. The grazing reserves to be effective and operate effectively, should operate as ranches or livestock production centres on a commercial basis.  The ranches will have adequate water from boreholes, salt points and pasture.

The locations would serve both as forage points, but also centres for providing extension services to boost animal care, feeding and veterinary facilities, and even abattoirs. Because the ranches are commercial ventures, cattle owners will pay for its use.

It is important to note that by and large, in consultation with stakeholders, all agree that where adequate provision is made on a commercial basis, there is no reason why there won’t be cooperation to use those ranches because there are both economic and social benefits for everyone, including herders.

Aside from States that have gazetted grazing areas, so far about 13 States have agreed to allocate 5,000 hectares of land for the ranching or livestock production. We must emphasis that in arriving at any of these decisions in the States, the States, Federal Government and all of the Stakeholders have to seat together and work out solutions that will benefit everyone. This cannot be done by fear or force, people have to work together to ensure that there is adequate consultations.

Let me reiterate, that on no account will any lands be seized or forcefully taken to create these ranches or grazing areas. All insinuations to that effect should be disregarded. No one is giving land to herdsmen, as is being falsely alleged. Instead, it is in our view that States that are willing and which have set aside land for development should cooperate with willing investors into commercially viable, government-supported ranches or livestock production centres for commercial use.

Let me close by summarizing some policy objectives that we need further work on, some of which will benefit from both Legislative and Judiciary cooperation.

The first is that the nature of our security challenges are complex and nuanced. Securing Nigeria’s over 923,768 square kilometers and its 180 million people, requires far more men and materials than we have at the moment. It also requires a continual re-engineering of our security architecture and strategies. This has to be a dynamic process. For a country our size to meet the 1 policeman to 400 persons UN prescribed ratio, would require nearly tripling our current police force, far more funding of the police, military and security agencies is required.

Secondly, we cannot realistically police a country the size of Nigeria centrally from Abuja.    State Police and other community policing methods are clearly the way to go.

Thirdly, we must intensify existing collaboration with our neighbours in the Chad Basin, especially border communities to prevent the movement of small arms, and disarming armed pastoralists and bandits who go through our borders day after day.

Lastly, we must avoid the dangers of allowing these conflicts to harden to religious or ethnic conflicts. This is the responsibility of political, religious and all other parts our leadership elite in Nigeria.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

It is now my special privilege to declare this very important summit open.

Released by:

Laolu Akande

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity

Office of the Vice President

February 8, 2018