President Muhammadu Buhari has, over the past week, given instructions for decisive measures aimed at bringing an end to the recurring violence in the Southern part of Kaduna State, his office said Thursday.
On his directive, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, was in the area on Saturday and Sunday to assess the situation first hand, President Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said in a statement.
Clashes between Fulani herdsmen and southern Kaduna residents have left many dead. A curfew imposed by the government in December 2016, was relaxed Wednesday.
The Catholic Church said over 800 people had been killed, but the police chief, Mr. Idris, disputed the figure. He did not however give a different figure.
Governor Nasir el-Rufai said the attackers were herdsmen from neighbouring countries, who had returned to avenge attacks on their relatives and livestock back in 2011.
The governor came under fire after admitting he had sent payments to the attackers to compensate for their losses, as part of efforts by his government to end the bloodshed.
President Buhari also faced fierce criticisms for his deafening silence.
Remarks by his special adviser on public affairs, Femi Adesina, that the president could not “comment on everything”, especially as Gov. el-Rufai had handled the crisis properly, infuriated Nigerians even more.
The statement signed by Mr. Shehu said in addition to conventional policemen deployed in the area, a squadron of mobile policemen has now been stationed there. It said the president had “once again, sent condolences to the people of Southern Kaduna, who have lost loved ones in the recent violence”.
The Nigerian army is also in the process of setting up two battalions in Southern Kaduna while the military continues to carry out air surveillance across flash points of the area, Mr. Shehu said.
“President Buhari has equally directed the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to carry out a joint assessment of the situation with the sister agency in Kaduna, SEMA, to determine the level of response required for urgent aid to the victims of the violence,” the statement said.
“These measures should soon ensure the return of normalcy to the region, while the Kaduna State government continues its peace building efforts.”
The statement said Mr. Buhari commended efforts of the State government and the security agencies in the steps taken so far to curtail the violence.