AFENIFERE, the apex Yoruba organisation, has characterised President Muhammadu Buhari’s order to shoot on sight to soldiers in the South East as a step that would further challenge the country’s unity and ruptured peace.
The association said that President Buhari’s order to the soldiers, who are mainly Northerners, without first pursuing the option of negotiation had added fuel to the suspicion that President Buhari did not consider the lives of other ethnic groups sacred but only those of his kinsmen, the Fulani.
South-East: Afenifere criticises Buhari’s order to fire on sight
Chief Ayo Adebanjo, the chief of Afenifere, confirmed this in a statement signed by the association’s Publicity Secretary, Mr Jare Ajayi.
Afenifere expressed concern that the “fate of the people of the South East amid plain and present animus, emerging from the deeds and words coming from Major General Buhari, now appeared to be in a certain jeopardy” as a result of the inconsiderate order.
“The rising animosity toward the Southeast zone since the start of the Buhari administration has now become a major concern for Afenifere, as this fact should also be a major concern for other stakeholders in the Nigerian project.
The order was aimed at protesting Igbo youths, according to the Afenifere chief, who characterised it as “artless and heartless.”
Chief Adebanjo also said that Buhari’s “disposition against the gb, a demonstration of his own admission of 95/5 percent, has been against the posting of northern soldiers to kill at any opportunity, gb youths, his mode of engagement in the South-East zone has been this decisive, no debate, no civil discourse, only the gun and bullet approach” since his election as president.
Apparently sensing foul play, Chief Adebanjo noted that Buhari’s Fulani ethnic community did not suffer the same fate.
He said that the Fulani, as exemplified by the herders, were the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world, according to the Global Terrorism Index, an international body that tracks terrorism around the world.
“Whereas Buhari allows his Fulani people to walk freely, murdering, maiming, raping, defending, and evading Fulani herders without a restraining order, he orders his mostly northern military to kill on sight.”
In what Chief Ayo Adebanjo characterised as a “devious scheme,” he recalled the genocide in Benue a few years ago, when the Fulani slaughtered hundreds of innocent people.
“Chief Adebanjo, as one of the leaders of the Southern and Middle Belt Forum who travelled to Makurdi on that occasion, witnessed firsthand the optimistic identification of the killers by the Benue State Government, and considering the unmistakable identity of the killers, all Buhari had to say to the governor was, ‘accommodate your neighbour.’ There have been no convictions or indictments.”
Chief Adebanjo decried the situation in this country in which two sets of laws exist — one in which the Fulani get off scot-free and another in which the lives of others, especially the gb, are unimportant.
“Look at the security council; there isn’t a single gb guy on Buhari’s security architecture… Is this how a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country like Nigeria should be run? The Afenifere chief inquired pertinently.”
Early in the week, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, expressed new concerns about the directive to defuse tensions when it denounced the “shoot on sight” order, arguing that it clearly confirmed the Federal Government’s unequal approach to matters affecting the citizens of the region.
According to an earlier article, Ohanaeze insisted that the way and manner in which soldiers were carrying out their duties in the region under the pretext of preventing insecurity suggested that a conspiracy was afoot that could lead to “another pogrom and genocide in the zone.”
“The trend of deployment of northern military officers to the southeast lends credibility to the aforementioned article. 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 preparation for the aforementioned.
“In Anambra, Col. Abdulsalam Sambo, a northern Muslim, is the Cantonment Commandant of the 302 Artillery Regiment Onitsha; in Imo, Brig Gen Ibrahim Tukura, another Muslim; in Abia, Brig Gen M. Ibrahim, a northerner, is the Commander of 14 Brigade Ohafia; and in Akwa Ibom, Brig Gen Faruk Mijinyawa, another northerner, is the Commander of 2 Brigade U Ohaneze had said, “This is truly concerning.”
The Afenifere leader also said in his concluding treatise on the “shoot-on-sight order,” “one would conclude 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 slogan of Change…”
“With this punitive decree, no member of the opposition is secure. To avoid yet another massacre in the South-East region, 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 really cares about the peace and stability of this nation, he must immediately withdraw his irresponsible and punitive order.
There are certainly more civilised and democratic ways to shore up stability in the South East if the President has no secret agenda.”