The apex Yoruba social-cultural association, Afenifere, has described the shoot-on-sight order given to soldiers in the South East by President Muhammadu Buhari as a move that would further threaten the unity and ruptured peace in the country.
The order which was given to the soldiers who are predominantly Northerners without first exploring the option of dialogue, the association maintained, had further fuelled the suspicion that President Buhari did not consider the life of another ethnic group sacred but that of Fulani, his kinsmen.
The leader of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo stated this in a statement signed by the association’s Publicity Secretary, Mr Jare Ajayi.
With the inconsiderate order, Afenifere expressed fear that the “fate of the people of the South East amid clear and present animus, arising from the deeds and words coming from Major General Buhari, now appeared to be in a certain jeopardy.
“The rising hostility against the Southeast zone since the beginning of the Buhari administration has now become a matter of great concern to Afenifere, as this reality should also become a major concern of other stakeholders in the Nigerian project.
The Afenifere leader who described the order as “artless and heartless” said it was targeted at protesting Igbo youth.
Chief Adebanjo also noted that from the moment Buhari became president, his “disposition toward the Ìgbò, a demonstration of his own admission of 95/5%, has been against the posting of northern soldiers to kill at every opportunity, Ìgbò youths, his mode of engagement in the South-East zone has been this decisive, no dialogue, no civil discourse, just the gun and bullet approach.”
Apparently sensing some foul play, Chief Adebanjo observed that the same fate did not apply to Buhari’s Fulani ethnic group.
He said the Fulani as exemplified by the herders, was the fourth deadliest terrorist group as determined by Global Terrorism Index, the international body that monitors terrorism all over the world.
“Whereas Buhari allows his Fulani people to roam freely, killing, maiming, raping, protecting, prevaricating to the Fulani herders without a restraining order, the Ìgbò youths he orders his mainly northern military to kill on sight.”
In what Chief Ayo Adebanjo described as a “devious plot”, he recalled the genocide in Benue a few years back in which the Fulani killed in their hundreds the innocent citizens of that state.
“Chief Adebanjo as one of the leaders of Southern and Middle Belt Forum that travelled to Makurdi on that occasion observed firsthand the positive identification of the killers by the Benue State Government and despite the incontrovertible identity of the killers all Buhari had to say to the governor, was, “accommodate your neighbour”. No arrests, no indictment.”
Chief Adebanjo decried the situation where two sets of laws exist in this country — a set of laws where the Fulani go scot-free and another, that the life of others, especially that of the Ìgbò, does not matter.
“Take a look at the security council, no Ìgbò man is a member of Buhari’s security architecture… Is that how to run a multi-ethnic multi-religious country like Nigeria? The Afenifere leader asked pertinently”
Early in the week, apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, raised fresh worries over the directive to contain the tension when it condemned the “shoot on sight” order, insisting that it clearly confirmed the uneven handed way the Federal Government had been treating matters affecting the people of the zone.
Quoting an earlier report, he said Ohanaeze insisted that the way and manner soldiers were carrying out their duties in the zone in the guise of checking insecurity, indicated that a plot was afoot that could trigger “another pogrom and genocide in the zone.”
“The pattern of deployment of northern military officers to the southeast lends credence to the above report. It was revealed that in preparation for the above, the Nigerian army has posted Northern Muslims as Commanders over its operations and brigades in Anambra, Imo, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Benue, Edo, Delta and Rivers states.
“In Anambra, the Cantonment Commandant of the 302 Artillery Regiment Onitsha is Col. Abdulsalam Sambo, a northern Muslim; In Imo, the Commander of 34 Brigade Obinze is Brig Gen Ibrahim Tukura, another Muslim; in Abia, the Commander of 14 Brigade Ohafia is Brig Gen M. Ibrahim, a northerner, while in Akwa Ibom, the Commander of 2 Brigade Uyo is Brig Gen Faruk Mijinyawa, another northerner. This is truly worrisome”, Ohaneze had stated.
In his concluding treatise on the “shoot-on-sight order, the Afenifere leader also said, “one will assume that Nigeria is now a theatre of bloodshed as our streets are now lined with the blood of innocent Nigerians not paved with the gold Buhari promised Nigerians with his mantra of Change.
“With this draconian order, no opposition member is safe. To prevent yet another looming massacre in the South-East zone, therefore, Afenifere leader has urged other leaders in the other zones to condemn the” shoot-on-sight order.
“The President must be told that if he is sincere about the peace and unity of this country, his reckless and draconian order should be revoked forthwith.
“Certainly, if the President has no hidden agenda, there are more civilized and democratic ways to beef up the security in the South East.”