The recent upsurge in a military offensive against Boko Haram terrorists and armed bandits have recorded some successes. Many of the terrorists and bandits have been neutralized and their kidnap victims set free. But the campaigns are also recorded some unintended consequences in the area of loss of innocent lives and wanton damages done to the livelihood of peace- loving Nigerians.
For instance, the Myetti Allah cattle breeders (popularly called Fulani herdsmen) in the northeast have recently complained that they have been victims of recent aerial bombardments by the Nigerian Airforce. In a report by SaharaReporters, Myetti Allah Kautal Hore in Taraba State has petitioned President Buhari about the killing of over 1200 cows by the military. They also complained that some of their members have died from the aerial bombardments.
Why Government should compensate the Fulani herdsmen
It will be dangerous for the Nigerian government to ignore the concerns of the herders because the cattle that were killed are not just animals, they are a symbol of the Fulani tradition and culture and they are their source of livelihood. For an average Fulani herder, his livelihood and economic survival depend on his cows, therefore if they are killed in such unfortunate events, it handicaps the herder economically.
So the government should as much as possible, call the herdsmen to the negotiation table and find a convenient way to compensate them for their losses.
It is important to stress that this is not an attempt to blame the military for the deaths or accuse them of intentionally killing the cows, but rather it is an attempt to challenge the government to find a holistic solution to the terrorism problems facing the North East.
Ignoring the herdsmen’ s plea can be counterproductive
Ignoring the pleas of the herders could be counterproductive because they are speaking from the place of pain and they are concerned about a threat to their economic survival. And when you strip a man of his livelihood and ignore his plea for understanding, you leave him with no other choice but to fight back.
So if nothing is done about the unintended destruction to the cows of the herdsmen, they could be forced to take the law into their hands or even join the terrorist organization to fight against the military.
So the military must be careful not to create a bigger problem while trying to crush the insurgent groups in the North East.
Why the military should be more careful during subsequent aerial missions
As much as it is almost impossible to avoid civilian casualties during the war, efforts must be made by the military to reduce it to the barest minimum. This can be done by the use of precision technologies which allows the military to isolate their targets.
The military can also use low- flying attack planes which reduces the possibility of bombing innocent citizens. These strategies will achieve two purposes- one it will reduce civilian casualties, and secondly, it will reduce the burden of paying compensation.
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