The presidency yesterday dismissed as wicked and unfounded, the conclusion by a media house that President Muhammadu Buhari is sympathetic to the activities of violent herdsmen.
According to the report, the President has been indifferent to the killer-herdsmen’s atrocities.
But a statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, rejected the allegations of the media house.
He said: “We reject news reports, which alleged that President Buhari had sympathy for criminality perpetuated by a misguided group.
“The editorial was not only disrespectful of the President and his office, but was also reckless, thoughtless, inflammatory and totally irresponsible.
“It is steadily becoming clear from the views, news and opinions of this newspaper that it will explore every opportunity and twist every fact to declare every Nigerian and ECOWAS member with Fulani blood a terrorists, who must be stripped of their rights as citizens, or worse subjected to ethnic cleansing.
“We believe and strongly insist that criminality perpetrated by some miscreants should not be used to demonise other responsible and decent members of the same ethnic group.
“The collective demonisation of any ethnic group because of the misguided behaviour or conduct of criminals is improper and no responsible government will ever do so.”
Shehu went on: “The editorial is, therefore, sheer blackmail and mischief designed to push its own sinister and unpatriotic agenda disguised as free speech.
“By inciting the people against an ethnic group because of the criminal activities of a few is unhelpful and deleterious to peace.
“Rather than proffer solutions, the editorial only regurgitated simplistic narratives of complex national issues, deliberately neglecting the broader and unbiased understanding and interpretation.
“After the highly biased and misleading editorial, the newspaper could not but come to terms with the established fact that climate change and criminality remained key drivers of the farmers-herdsmen conflict.
“Currently, a massive and fierce military operation is going on in Zamfara State to neutralise the activities of bandits, who have been sacking communities and killing innocent people, and the security outfits have been deployed to safeguard lives and property.”
The President’s commitment to the security and well-being of all Nigerians, he said, is unwavering and total, and no criminal group, herdsmen or ethnic militias, will be spared the wrath of the law.
He added: “In its attempt to build a case against the President and tarnish his hard-earned reputation, the newspaper misquoted and removed from the actual context words attributed to him, one or two of which we wish to clarify here.
“In pointing out that some Nigerians, who dare the desert and the Mediterranean in order to migrate illegally to Europe have to blame themselves, the President had a context, following severe warnings by local authorities that were clearly being ignored.
“The unfortunate Nigerians were always lured into harmful and unsafe journeys, with high likelihood of death or slavery.”