The Presidency has blamed the sustained attacks and killings in Benue State on “abnormal and unnatural” herders.
Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity said this on Wednesday amid outrage over Tuesday’s attack on a Catholic church and killing of two priests and worshippers and injuring several others.
“What we now seem to have on our hands are the normal herdsmen who carry sticks and cutlass and some abnormal and unnatural herdsmen who are killers in disguise who perpetrate this evil,” Mr Adesina said in a Skype interview on Politics Today.
“You see that it is a multi-dimensional thing now. It is beyond the ordinary farmers-herdsmen clash which we have had with us for decades.”
During a visit to victims of the church attack, Benue State Deputy Governor, Benson Abuonu, had lamented the continued killings.
“We are under siege and I do believe that this has gone beyond the normal herdsmen-farmers crisis,” he said.
Mr Adesina, who said he watched Mr Abuonu on TV, added that the deputy governor’s claim that killings were beyond the herdsmen-farmers clash was “instructive”.
Since January 1, 2018, when suspected herdsmen attacked villages in Benue killing 73 persons, the state government has been calling out for decisive action.
The deployment of more security personnel and the commencement of military exercise – Exercise Cat Race – have failed to halt the killings. Several security personnel have also been killed by attackers in the state.
After debating Tuesday’s killings during plenary on Wednesday, the House of Representatives resolved to summon President Muhammadu Buhari and called for the sacking of the service chiefs.
The Senate also summoned the Inspector-General of Police in connection with the killings and the arrest of Senator Dino Melaye.
Asked what the Federal Government was doing to secure the lives of people in Benue, Mr Adesina said, “I am aware that the security (agencies) are taking some steps. But then you know that security decisions are not what you disclose until the security (operatives) swing into action. I spoke to some people in the top echelon of security agencies and they are making some moves.”
There had been calls on the President, who condemned the killings in a statement on Tuesday, to also declare the killer herdsmen as terrorists, but Adesina said, that was unlikely to happen.
He said, “You declare those you know terrorists. If these people strike like devils and vanish like ghosts, then who do you declare terrorists?
“It is not about playing to the gallery. It is not about sheer body movement so that people can applaud you. No, it is about finding an enduring solution to this evil. It is an evil that has been unleashed on our country. It is a sinister plot. Who are those behind this sinister plot? That needs to be unravelled by security.
“Like the President said in his statement yesterday (Tuesday), they are even bent on causing bloodshed through religion. That is why they killed priests. So, there is a lot more than meets the eye in all these killings round the country.”
On the likelihood that the President would address the nation directly, Mr Adesina said he would use one of the channels of communication available when the need arises.
“Any time there is anything definite, the President, of course, will always talk to the country. There are many channels of communication and he will use any of them,” he said.