Adelani Adepegba, Abuja
The outgoing French Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Denys Gauer, has identified impunity and injustice as the factors driving the killings and bloodshed in Plateau, Benue, Kaduna and other parts of the country.
The envoy attributed the killings to struggle for land, noting that foreigners were not involved in the bloodshed in the Middle Belt region.
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Addressing journalists in commemoration of the 2018 French National Day in Abuja on Saturday, the diplomat who would be rounding off his tour of duty at the end of the month, said Nigerians deserved to enjoy effective security and better governance than the government was currently providing.
He admonished the Federal Government to punish those behind the killings.
The envoy advised the government to develop agriculture and animal husbandry to address the crisis.
“The reason for the killings is demography; some people are fighting for land, so there must be direct policy to develop agriculture and animal husbandry. I think impunity is encouraging the killings and those responsible must be punished. I don’t believe foreigners are involved in the killings,” he said in response to a question about the claims by the Federal Government that Libyan mercenaries were responsible for the bloodshed.
The envoy added, “The second is justice. When there is that kind of killing, there must be proper prosecution and perpetrators must be properly sentenced. If that does not happen, then, it cannot end.”
Gauer noted that foreign investors and partners would not be willing to invest in the affected areas on account of the security challenges there.
According to the diplomat, Nigeria has recorded great progress against Boko Haram, but the sect, he said, had not been eliminated.
He explained that the security forces needed to maintain their offensive against the insurgents so that the displaced persons could return to their communities.
The envoy said that there was a need for the relationship between the two countries to be expanded to involve exchange of culture, renewable energy, agriculture and smart cities.
He said France would inaugurate the “Season of African Culture” in 2020 as part of strategies to promote African culture.
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The departing diplomat stated that he enjoyed Nigeria, adding that he had visited Sokoto, Kano, Enugu, Abeokuta, Osogbo, Lagos and other cities, but added that insecurity and bad roads were a challenge.
Meanwhile, the Muslim Rights Concern has advised Nigerians to stop blaming President Muhammadu Buhari for killings around the country.
The group gave the advice in a statement on Monday by MURIC’s Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, and made available to newsmen in Ibadan.
Akintola blamed politicians, tribal bigots and a section of the media on the spread of wrong information about killings around the country.
“Nigerian lawmakers should take the lion’s share of the blame, followed by the citizens and the media. They should all accept their culpability in this peculiar mess instead of blaming the executive since the latter has done what is humanly possible within the law,’’ Akintola said.
He said it was unfair to blame Buhari for Nigeria’s inability to stop killings because security was a collective responsibility, particularly the different arms of government.
MURIC urged Nigerians to adopt a holistic approach to killings occurring in the country.
“Farmer-herder clashes are common everywhere, particularly in West Africa and Nigeria is not an isolated case but we are behaving as if Nigeria is an island.
“Take Ghana as an example. Earlier this year, cattle rustlers invaded farmlands in Ashanti, Volta, Brong Ahafo and the Eastern regions leading to killings and the destruction of farms.
“But Ghanaians did not crucify their president because of the clashes but solve the problem by establishing their first cattle ranch last week at Afram Plains in the eastern region. It plans to establish more in the Volta and Ashanti regions.
“It is time to face realities. We must borrow a leaf from Ghana. That country is as multi-religious and multi-cultural as Nigeria,’’ Akintola said.
He said herders and farmers clashes could be avoided if Nigeria objectively considered the recommendation for the establishment of ranches.
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Akintola said Ghanaian President Akufo-Addo had in March expressed his administration’s intention to establish cattle ranches to curb the menace of herders.
“He has succeeded in doing that because Ghanaians did not look at their tribe or religion. They considered what will benefit them,’’ Akintola said.
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