Last Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari in continuation of his tour of troubled areas in the country visited Benue state where he consulted with critical stakeholders. The meeting was different from usual political meetings as those parties involved were frank and unsparing in their comments on the security situation in the state.
The stakeholders were bold enough to express their deep seated agonies and feeling of alienation by the federal government. Their grievances could not be covered by the political camaderie expected at the first official visit of Mr. President and leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the state.
From all indications, it was an occasion where the people of Benue had the opportunity of telling the President their reservations on the way the security situation is being handled by security agencies, especially the Nigeria Police.
They gave Buhari first hand information on the enormity of the herders/farmers clashes which had led to the termination of lives, mostly women and children, in the state.
While acknowledging several efforts made by the President in tackling the issue with a view to returning peace to some parts of the state, the stakeholders were particularly pained that the Inspector General of Police,Abubakar Idris, whom the President ordered to relocate to Benue to restore law and order, refused to do so.
The President had ordered that the IG relocate to Benue state on January 8th following the new year massacre of scores of people in Logo and Guma local governments of the state. According to a statement by the Police Spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, the President mandated the IG to stop further loss of lives and forestall crisis in the state.
The President had in his maiden speech in May, 2015, ordered the relocation of the Army headquarters to Maiduguri, Borno state to curtail the excesses of the Boko Haram insurgents. The immediate compliance to the Presidential order resulted into the recapitulation of the group who had hitherto hoisted its flags in about fourteen local government areas in Borno state.
Buhari, who apparently was taken aback by the information, in his normal candour, expressed shock and disbelief at the information. Even though the allegation against the IGP was already a public knowledge ahead of the Presidential visit to Benue, the President’s claim of ignorance has elicited a chain of public reaction.
Some of the stakeholders in Benue hold that the herders/farmers crisis may have been brought under control had the IGP complied with the Presidential order the same way the excesses of the Boko Haram insurgents were brought under control by the Army in Borno state.
Idris stepped on toes of Benue stakeholders earlier when he categorized the herders/farmers clash as a communal one even though he made efforts to make it up with them by publicly apologizing.
The refusal of the IGP to relocate to Benue as ordered by the President had already been miscontrued to mean Buhari’s insensitivity to the plights of the defenceless people groaning under the weight of the killers masquerading as herdsmen in the state. Buhari’s response only goes to show that there are some persons in his government whose action are depicting him in bad light.
While the IGP may have his reasons for disobeying the relocation order, as he may have some other pressing security issues to attend to elsewhere, intimating his boss ahead of time would have saved his neck. This is more so when the Benue governor, Samuel Ortom, has consistently alleged that the IGP was not handling the security situation in his state properly.
With the issues of possible disobedience of Presidential order already in public domain, it is expected that such would be thoroughly investigated by the President and apropriate action taken. In some other climes, the IGP would have reisigned having lost the confidence of his boss.
There were reports however that the IGP had been making frantic efforts to meet the President on the matter, not a few watchers of unfolding events reason that any explanation at this particular time is belated and of no use.