Kaduna State Government has called for an extensive research on the actual causes of armed banditry and kidnapping in the country, saying the focus must go beyond the farmer-herder relations and conflicts.
Mr Samuel Aruwan, the Commissioner for internal Security and Home Affairs, said at a two-day meeting with stakeholder on the Farmer-Herder Relations and Banditry, that such a research will help in finding comprehensive and workable solutions to the menace.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was organized by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) on Friday in Kaduna.
According to Aruwan, the state is addressing some weIl-documented security challenges such as youth restiveness, drug abuse, rape, armed robbery and ethno-religious intolerance.
He noted that the challenges currently bedeviling most states in the North-West are the issue of farmer-herder clashes, homicide, kidnapping and collapse of the rural economy.
He stated that since the inception of the state administration in 2015, its position on the farmer-herder collision has been made clear and unambiguous.
“The government’s appeal has been for all residents to have recourse to the law. If a farmer in the course of farming comes under attack, or crops are destroyed, the admonition is to have recourse to the law.
“The same appeal goes to the herders, if in the course of grazing they are attacked or their cattle rustled, or they become victims of any security challenge.
‘Unfortunately, most individuals and communities involved in these clashes often choose self-help rather than the law.
“This complicates the conflict, and worsens the bloodshed,” he said.
He noted that media narrative is often not helpful in containing conflicts.
“When armed bandits kill innocent herders and farmers while attempting to kidnap for ransom, some media will report that it is an attack by herdsmen, thereby inflaming the violence between pastoralists and their hosts.”
Aruwan, therefore, called on the media and commentators on the need to research deeply and not just skim through present security challenges with emotions, sentiment, prejudices and biases.
He said that issues of banditry and farmer-herder clashes have had a strong impact on rural communities, as they directly involve farmers and herders, who live, operate and earn their livelihood in mainly rural settings.
He disclosed that the state government has established a peace commission to provide solutions to the lingering security issues in the state.
The commissioner explained that his ministry was also created to provide more dedicated focus on intelligence gathering and seamless coordination of security operations and collaboration.
“This is yielding positive results in terms of addressing security challenges and outright neutralization of criminal elements.”
Aruwan decried the politicisation of security challenges, saying those engaged in it are self serving and helping to magnify and complicate the issue.
Earlier, the CDD Director, Idayat Hassana, reiterated the centre’s commitment in partnering with the government and various stakeholders in addressing insecurity in the country.
Hassan, represented by Shamsudeen Yusuf, the Principal Programs Officer at CDD, disclosed that the meeting was conceived as a starting point to identify challenges and best ways to address insecurity in communities.
NAN reports that the meeting was attended by security Agencies, traditional and religious leaders.
On his part, the representative of the United States Institute for Peace (USIP), Mr Chris Kwaja, commended the centre for the initiative and engagement, and the people of the state for their resilience in keeping peace alive.
He commended the Kaduna state peace commission for its efforts towards organizing dialogue for peace across communities.
Hajiya Khadija Hawaja, a commissioner with the state peace commission, said the commission facilitates consultations and dialogue between diametrically opposed groups to dispel the myth of “us versus them”, and creating new ways of approaching and settling differences.
She noted that, working with different community, has exposed them to know that the conflict in Kaduna has nothing to do with religion or ethnicity, but mostly structural while some were personal.
She said that the peace commission has embarked on deconstruction of such narratives by calling people to reality of what is actually on ground. (NAN)