Security is a very vital component of every human community at any given time. A stable security state translates into a prosperous society. However, security has become the talk in Nigeria, in recent years.
Benue state, particularly, has been in the news, almost on daily basis. Not for any developmental strides. One would see very disturbing pictures; on the social media, the national dailies or TV stations, of people killed and maimed, with bullet and matchet wounds.
This events has had a negative effect on the economy of the state, where the citizens are, primarily, agrarians. They farmers no longer go to the farm, for fear of attacks by marauding herders. Those who are brave enough to dare, sometimes get killed on the farm. In some cases, even after successful cultivation, they have their crops eaten by cattles, and the farm totally destroyed.
Against this backdrop, the state government, after passing a bill into law, that progibits open grazing, constituted an enforcement agency. Initially called the Livestock Guard, the angency was later tranformed into and called the Forest Guard.
One would expect this newly formed security unit to operate in the rural areas, where the herders attacks, are perpetuated. However, there has been disturbing news of the guards, allegedly arresting people in the city centre of Makurdi, the state capital. This has been justified on the premise of trying to curb rising security challenges in the town.
On Tuesday, 26th April, 2022, there were reports of alleged arrests and harrassment, of innocent citizens on the streets of Makurdi, by the Forest guards. There were pictures and videos on social media, allegedly showing personnels of the security unit cutting off dreads and tinded hair.
This would leave one wondering if the guards are still on course, as to what the unit was formed for. There have been public suspicion that they are, in fact, created against political enemies.
The Benue State government should, as a matter of urgency, look into the Forest Guards’ operations, before it turns into an outlaw unit.