Late Saturday, January 6, news of the killing of notorious cultist, Ejima Igwedibia, a.k.a. Don Waney, by a combined team of Army and DSS filtered into national discourse. Don Waney was responsible for the brutal massacre of 23 people returning from a midnight church service in Omoku, Rivers State, on January 1. According to Army sources, the cultist and his cohorts had immediately relocated to Enugu where they rented an apartment and lived among other peace loving citizens undetected. However, the army and DSS trailed them to their new hideout and attacked the culprits, leading to the death of three of them.
We commend the military and the DSS on the speed with which they reacted to the Omoku killings. This goes to show that Nigeria's security personnel can work if and when they want to. They had recorded similar commendable feats last year in the cases of Evans and Vampire. Nigerians were no doubt very pleased with them.
But while those involved in the killing of Don Waney bask in the euphoria of their feat, one issue sticks out like a sore thumb. It is the matter of the murderous Fulani herdsmen.
Apart from Boko Haram, no group in Nigeria has taken more toll on human life than the Fulani herdsmen. They have overrun many of their host communities, sending them fleeing from their ancestral lands to other places in search of protection.
These herdsmen brazenly carry sophisticated rifles like AK-47 which is the exclusive preserve of the armed forces. Yet no one asks questions as to how they came about them. But not just that, they use those guns to kill, maim and burn homes, leaving in their wake, a lot of anguish, misery and hopelessness.
It is now near three years since the herdsmen upped their ante. In this period, not a single known arrest has been recorded. Buoyed by the strange docility of the security personnel, perhaps, the killer herdsmen have increased the tempo and striking almost on a weekly basis across the country, notably in the Middle Belt of the country and occasionally in the Southeast and South South.
Is it that our security forces are scared of confronting the herdsmen, or is it that they are clueless as to how to apprehend them?
Yet we have seen from the actions of the same security personnel elsewhere and where it involved even largely harmless groups like the Biafra agitators, that our security personnel can work wonders when they want.
We are however appalled by their continued failure to deal with the menace of the Fulani herdsmen in any way. After each dastardly attack by these herdsmen, they always succeed in disappearing into thin air, as it were, with the security agents barely lifting a gun in pursuit. This is unacceptable.
To tell Nigerians that the killer herdsmen have defied arrest, or that they are not Nigerians, is to look Nigerians in the eye and lie to them. Recently more than 20 people lost their lives to the herdsmen in a Benue community, forcing many of them to beat a forced retreat from their homes.
We are therefore using this opportunity to urge the federal government and the security agencies to go after these herdsmen with the same speed with which they dealt with others. Dealing decisively with them will not only stop them from their brazen attacks, it will prove that the Federal Government is not inured to the feelings of others.
The time for action is long overdue.