A group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has criticised the slow pace at which President Muhammadu Buhari is responding to the recent spate of killings by suspected herdsmen in Benue and other parts of the country.
The group said Mr. Buhari's refusal to 'talk to Nigerians directly' is raising speculations as to whether the government is shielding the perpetrators or not from justice.
In a statement, Wednesday, signed by the deputy director, SERAP, Timothy Adewale, the organisation called on Mr. Buhari to bring the culprits to justice and ensure reparation for the victims.
Members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate on Tuesday condemned the killings and also called for justice.
One of the resolutions made by the senators was a 14-day ultimatum given to the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to ensure that suspected killers are arrested and investigated.
"Continuing refusal of Buhari to speak directly to Nigerians on the matter and visit the states such as Benue, Taraba and Adamawa, that have been most affected by these attacks by herdsmen is feeding into the propaganda that this government may be shielding suspected perpetrators from justice and, more importantly, undermines the rule of law and facilitates continuing attacks.
"As the President of the Republic and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, SERAP believes that Buhari is in a powerful position to end the unlawful killings and destruction of property apparently by herdsmen across the country if he really wants to do so. Buhari needs to speak directly to Nigerians and particularly to the countless victims and their families.
"So far attempts by the government to address the persistent attacks by herdsmen in Benue, Taraba, Adamawa states and other parts of the country have overlooked the plight of the victims and their families. But it has to be made clear that victims of attacks apparently by herdsmen are entitled to effective remedies regardless of whether they bring their claims against the government in an individual or collective capacity."
The organisation urged President Buhari to ensure justice and fairness are not undermined in the efforts of security operatives and relevant authorities to arrest the culprits and bring relief to victims.
"It is an imperative demand of justice that the responsibility of the perpetrators of the unlawful killings and destruction of property be clearly established and the rights of the victims and their families sustained to the fullest possible extent. Establishing a trust fund for victims of attacks by herdsmen will be an important first step towards justice for victims and their families", it said.
PREMIUM TIMES had earlier reported how a Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, in an essay titled ' Impunity Rides Again' criticised President Muhammadu Buhari for the failure of his government to act decisively against Fulani herdsmen believed to be behind the recent killings of scores of people in communities across the nation.
The police commissioner in Benue State, Bashir Makama, a few hours after the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, was deployed by the president to address the insecurity in Benue State and neighbouring Nassarawa, where armed herdsmen also invaded informed PREMIUM TIMES that the police are, "concentrating their energy and resources towards the safe return of recently displaced residents to their communities.
He said the police are 'holding back' on their offensive against the suspected killer herdsmen.