The recent spate of herdsmen killings in Nigeria has become a serious issue of concern. In this Interview with our JUDICIAL CORRESPONDENT, KAYODE ADEOTI, an Ilorin based lawyer, Bola Rasaq Gold, however, suggested that as a way of addressing the menace, government should grant those perpetrating the act amnesty. Excerpts:
There is an agitation from members of the public for government to declare Fulani herdsmen terrorist group, do you subscribe to that?
I’m not of the opinion that those perpetrating evils in Benue should be declared as terrorist. What is important now is that government should unravel the identity of these people and fish them out. They could be militants and if they are, what was done during former President , late Musa Yaradua should be adopted. Government should call for surrendering of firearms and amnesty. I will also want to believe that they are not herdsmen, from the level of arrest that has been made so far, none of them has been identified to be a Fulani herdsman. The rumour that those who are carrying out the killings are from Libya or other neighbouring countries should be discarded. Those arrested recently in connection with the killings are from Benue State.
There seems to be a renewed cult activities in Kwara State, what’s responsible?
From experience, when the law against cultism was first promulgated in 2003, it worked well. And that time, there was a drastic reduction in the activities of the secret cult. Sometimes thereafter, government decided to amend the law and made the punishment a simple one, during that period, there was influx of cultists into the state and Jamiu activities became perpetual. When government realised this, they reviewed the law to make it stiffer. I believe, the problem we have on ground today started when government relaxed the law. Going into history, before the law of secret cult was promulgated in 2003, government first called for the denunciation and surrendering of arms at the police headquarters. A department was set up in the state police to handle that, and people turned up. When the law was re-amended to bring it back to the 2003, they ought to have called for denunciation as well and surrendering of weapons. On the issue of ritual killings, there was a bill passed at the House of Assembly regulating dealings in human parts and the likes, what I don’t know yet is if that bill has been assented to and passed into law, if it has been done, it has taken care of ritual killings.
There seems to be proliferation of firearms in this present dispensation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, what do you think is responsible for this and what is the way out?
When you talk about proliferation of firearms in our society, they are not the type manufactured in this country but brought from another country, we have borders, the land, sea and air borders, what are security officers managing these borders doing to curb the influx of these firearms. I believe those are the areas our government need to look into in order to ensure that the issue is addressed.