Anyone who thinks the Federal Government controversial ‘Ruga settlements’ policy is dead in the South-south should perish the thought if the exposè by the Commissioner of Police, Delta State, Mr. Hafiz Inuwa, is anything to go by.
BIGPEN reports the controversial Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) settlements is a policy thrust of President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to put an end to a recurring conflict between nomadic herders and farmers. The policy was heavily criticized by some Nigerians who claim it is a ploy to claim land across the country for Fulani herders.
“Ruga Settlement” which seeks to settle migrant animal farmers – cattle herders in an organised place, according to Garba Shehu in a statement last year, is already being implemented in some Northern states but many states in the South-south including Delta resisted it.
But the Delta Police Commissioner, in a no-holds-barred interview with the Saturday Vanguard, revealed that some traditional rulers in the state are already collecting money in millions and handing over lands to Fulani herdsmen to build ‘sanctuaries’ in the state.
He said that what baffles him is that many have failed to question some of the secret land deals entered into with the traditional rulers for lands to be release for Fulani herdsmen camps in some part of the state.
The police boss spoke few days after reports say he was summoned to a closed door meeting at the Unity Hall government house Asaba, to explain the rising wave of insecurity occasioned by the increasing rate of kidnapping and banditry in and around the state.
According to Vanguard report, the state police boss expressed disbelief that Deltans would rather prefer to keep mute than interrogate the land deals, which from present-day happenings have put some communities at the mercy of rampaging Fulani herdsmen.
He said that the police in the state is doing it utmost best to ensure criminality is reduced to its barest minimum, lamenting that policing is being challenged by “insider-connivers” in every crime committed in the state.
“First of all, I want to tell you that as Police, it is our constitutional responsibility to protect lives and property. Crime and criminality thrive everywhere. What I am trying to say is that there is no society all over the world that is isolated from crime one hundred percent. However, our ability to bring criminality to tolerable level is what makes us as a security force.”
”So, people should stop seeing or looking for government to provide absolute security for them. If all the security agencies would come together they cannot give a hundred percent security without the tacit cooperation of members of the public, absolute security is impossible.
”Members of the public must know that they too have civic responsibilities to themselves, to their communities, to the state and the nation at large. Unfortunately, this is absent in our people generally and I’m not particular about any state or sector.
”The answer is yes, we have been making series of arrests and recoveries. We have arrested some kidnappers at Oghara, who are Fulani and we handed them to the Commissioner of Police, Kogi state. We also arrested some of them somewhere close to Edo state and handed over to Commissioner of Police, Edo state, who also handed them over to Commissioner of Police, Kogi state. We are trying to see if we can recover their arms based on the information we get.
“What people fail to understand is that the criminals know the law enforcement officers, but we do not know them. The people within those communities know the criminals. Let me be blunt, there are insider-connivers. There are locals that are conniving with these criminals. Tell me, I ask you, what role are the communities playing in giving us such information or exposing these people? When we get one of these criminals, definitely we will get the rest!, he assured.
On the spate of killings allegedly by Fulani herdsmen in some communities in Delta North, the Police chief lamented that even the vigilante groups that are supposed to help the police in the area have been compromised and infiltrated by herders. According to him, herdsmen are colluding with the locals who are hoarding information that could lead to arrest of suspected criminals.
‘When you talk about Issele-Azagba, I realized that things were happening there and what we needed to do was try to make it a little bit independent place that will have its own police. I dispatched three police teams and made them permanent there. I even gave them a brand new patrol pick-up van for the security of the place.
”Are the vigilante groups I am supposed to work with helping matters? The answer is no! What about the communities? No! In fact, I want to use this opportunity to commend the Chairman of Aniocha North local government area for providing a place for my men to stay in Issele-Azagba. Let me be blunt to tell you that as we are serious in this issue, there are some persons sabotaging our efforts. The question is, who are the people giving the Fulani herdsmen sanctuaries to establish camps? People have to look at all these.
”Recently, we did what we call “Operation Flush out Kidnappers” from Ibusa down to Okpanam. We were amazed at what we saw in all these bushes around and behind the Asaba Airport. One of the traditional rulers at one time was so perplexed and ran to his counterpart with regard to the way and manner he is giving Fulanis sanctuaries with reckless abandon. Are they giving the land for free? We are aware they are collecting money from these Fulani herdsmen and people are not looking at all these things.
”Well, even if you are born and brought up in Delta as a Fulani man and you are doing your business, yes, it is your country and you can move around. But, if there are bad eggs amongst you, will you pretend to tell me that you do not know them? If you know them and you did not inform us, you are also a criminal because you are aiding and abating.
”The police in the state are doing a lot. The only help we need from the communities is information on the way and manner crime and criminality are thriving in the communities. One thing I want people to understand is that crime knows no tribe, religion and borders.
”The way people, who are criminally-minded are partnering with some of these so-called suspected herdsmen in the state is alarming. The vigilante groups of Delta North need surgical operation in the sense that they have been infiltrated by criminals”, he said.