President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday said the herdsmen wreaking havoc across the country are gunmen trained by the late Libyan President Muammar Gadaffi.
Speaking with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at the Abuja House in London, Buhari said the gunmen escaped into Nigeria and other West African countries after Gadaffi’s death.
“The problem is even older than us. It has always been there, but now made worse by the influx of gunmen from the Sahel region into different parts of the West African sub-region,” he said in response to Archbishop Welby’s question on the herdsmen crisis.
“They were trained and armed by Muammar Gadaffi of Libya. When he was killed, the gunmen escaped with their arms. We encountered some of them fighting with Boko Haram.
“Herdsmen that we used to know carried only sticks and maybe a cutlass to clear the way, but these ones now carry sophisticated weapons. The problem is not religious, but sociological and economic. But we are working on solutions.”
The President said “irresponsible politics” had been brought into the farmers/herders’ crisis, promising that enduring solutions would be found, and justice done to all concerned.
He said he declared his second-term bid on Monday before his London trip because many Nigerians were “talking too much” about whether he was going to run or not.
On Leah Sharibu, the Dapchi schoolgirl still being held by insurgents for refusing to renounce Christianity, the President said: “We are managing the matter quietly. Making noise would not help. We are collecting as much intelligence as possible, working with the Red Cross and other international organisations.
“There are too many fraudulent people around, who claim they can do this and that. We won’t deal with them. That was how we got the Dapchi girls back, and the Chibok girls.”
Archbishop Welby said it was always a delight to see President Buhari, adding that he would pray for him on his decision to seek a second term.
He later presented President Buhari with a copy of his recent book: “Reimagining Britain. Foundations for Hope.”