Leaders of Southern and Middle Belt Forum on Monday criticised Ibrahim Idris, Inspector-General of Police (IGP), accusing him of holding brief for Fulani herdsmen by describing the latest killings in Benue State as a communal crisis.
The group also demanded his immediate sack, saying that he had failed in his responsibilities to protect Nigerians and arrest law breakers, even as they alleged that the police boss, by his utterances, was justifying the crime.
The Forum, in a joint statement signed by Yinka Odumakin (South-West), Bassey Henshaw (South-South), Chigozie Ogbu (South East) and Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt), said that it was worried by the deafening silence of President Muhammadu Buhari over the killings.
The Forum also said that it was alarmed at the indifference and slow response by the Federal Government, adding that the confidence of Nigerians in the ability of the government to protect them in times of crisis is now shaken going by the developments in Benue State.
While also calling on members of the National Assembly to cut short their recess so as to address the issue, the Forum also demanded the unbundling of the police structure so that states can have their own police.
“We are appalled by the level of killings that has gone on in Benue State in the last few days and the seeming official indifference in condemning and going after the perpetrators of the deadly crimes.
“We have seen images of horror and wanton killings perpetrated by killer herdsmen who went on a killing spree and are now granting press conferences justifying why they carried out such a barbaric act”, the statement noted.
On the IGP’s remark after his meeting with President Buhari, the forum said, “We are further embarrassed that the inspector-general of police, who ordinarily should have gone after these criminals, has been making excuses for the murderers, against the call of his duty.
“The IGP, after meeting with President Buhari at the Villa last Friday, made highly insensitive remarks: ‘Obviously, it is communal crisis; herdsmen are part of the community. They are Nigerians and are part of the community. Are they not?
“We consider the above remarks highly unbecoming of the number 1 cop in Nigeria, who should enforce the law against murderers. And it has shown clearly what the lopsided appointments into security forces can cause.
“A multi-ethnic society requires a reflection of its plurality in the leadership of its security apparatus so that the type of balance required can be provided at all times. We must also express our reservations about the deafening silence by the president about these killings; as we are yet to hear a word directly from him over these cold-blooded murders, which many have seen as reprisals over the outlawing of open-grazing of cattle in Benue State.
“These killings threaten the fragile unity of this country and the official handling of the fall-outs is proving worse than the very sinister act itself.
“As things stand, the confidence of most sections of the county in the willingness of the Federal Government to protect them is badly shaken as the authority of the central government appears largely compromised,” the statement reads.
The Forum, meanwhile, called for the immediate removal of IGP Idris in the face of his unguarded statement, while also calling for the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators, among other demands.
“In order to restore faith in the government and prevent a resort to self-help in the face of existential threats from killers, we demand the following: Immediate removal of the IGP and his replacement for having failed to effect the law against murders and justifying crimes. Immediate arrests of the killers and their sponsors; the Federal Government must disarm all herdsmen across the country immediately.
“An urgent commencement of the unbundling of the police structure so that states must have their own police to enforce laws made by their Houses of Assembly.
“The president should address the country on these incidents and announce concrete measures to assure citizens that his government has not abdicated the primary responsibility of protecting lives and property.