Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that no fewer than 800 suspected violent herdsmen have been arrested across the country by security agencies.
Osinbajo said this in Houston, Texas in the United States on Friday at a Townhall event where he interacted with US-based Nigerians, according to a statement, issued on Saturday, by his spokesperson Mr. Laolu Akande.
The Vice President fielded about 30 live and internet questions at the event moderated by Mr. Rudolf Okonkwo of Sahara Reporters and Prof. Nimi Wariboko of Boston University.
On the herdsmen attacks in certain states across the country he said the Federal Government was acting to curb the menace.
“The President has given firm instructions to the security agencies to arrest not only herdsmen who are attacking communities anywhere in the country but anyone of them or anyone at all in possession of firearms.
“There are about 800 of suspected violent herdsmen in the country that are currently in custody,” he said.
The Vice President, however, decried the slow pace of the criminal justice system which is affecting the prompt trial of such suspects.
Osinbajo reminded the audience that the issue of killings by such violent herdsmen had been a perennial issue especially as grazing lands continued to disappear over the years and the cattle fed on people’s crops on the farmlands.
He explained that the matter just did not crop up when President Buhari assumed office.
Osinbajo then cautioned against the tendency of interpreting the herdsmen issue as a religious issue, stressing that it was important for all Nigerians to refuse such divisive narratives and tendencies.
He reminded his audience that there had always been conflicts between herdsmen and communities across the country.
(File Photo) L: People killed in attacks by herdsmen on Kodomun, Adamawa State… R: Children fleeing after the attack. Photos: Hindi Livinus
Osinbajo said that people should disabuse the notion that the problem had just started because President Buhari, a Fulani, is currently at the helm of affairs in the country.
On community policing, the Vice President indicated that community policing via State Police is indeed a cardinal programme of the ruling APC.
He, however, noted that the party’s agenda could not be introduced until there was an amendment to the nation’s constitution.
He gave a scenario where a policeman from Bayelsa for instance was working in Borno where he could neither speak the language nor understand the culture of the people, noting that such was counterproductive.
“The current situation where police activities are controlled at the federal level sure has some limitations.
“The Federal Government is currently working to introduce community policing that would be in line with the constitution.”