Femi Adesina, presidential spokesman, says it is “very unkind” to say attacks by herdsmen are rampant because President Muhammadu Buhari is Fulani.
He said the issue between herdsmen and locals had been existing long before Buhari became president.
According to Adesina, between 2013 and May 2015 when Goodluck Jonathan was president, 756 people were killed in herdsmen attacks.
He said the issue is “pure criminality” and has nothing to do with the tribe of the incumbent president.
In a video posted on his Facebook page on Wednesday, the special adviser to the president on media and publicity said Buhari is determined to “crack this issue”.
He said: “Something that is disturbing that I have heard about it is linking those developments to the fact that a Fulani man is president and so, he is brooking such kind of evil acts.
“I think that is very unkind. And I will try to back my position with statistics.
“In 2013, particularly, there were nine cases of herdsmen invading communities in Benue state alone and more than 190 people were killed.
“In 2014, there were about 16 of such tragic developments with more than 231 people killed. And then there was a change of government in May 2015. But between January and May 2015, there were six attacks which left about 335 people dead.
“Now, the question is, during that period, did we have a Fulani president?
“This is showing us that the issue of herdsmen attacking settlements, attacking farmers, attacking communities is pure criminality and it is something that government must deal with.
“It is the duty of government to preserve the lives of the citizenry. It is the responsibility of government to maintain law and order and that this government is determined to do.
“Therefore, let nobody say that all this is happening because we have a Fulani president.
“We have had many Fulani presidents in the past and this issue of herders and local communities at loggerheads has predated this government.
“But I will just like to appeal to Nigerians that the Muhammadu Buhari government is determined to crack this issue, is determined to get to the bottom of it and it will get done.”
Suspected Fulani herdsmen have attacked two Benue communities in 2018 alone, prompting the president to order Ibrahim Idris, inspector-general of police, to relocate to the state over the matter.
At least 55 people were said to have been killed in a recent attack on Lau local government area of Taraba state.
Wole Soyinka, Nobel laureate, reacting to the spate of killings, on Wednesday said herdsmen have declared war on Nigeria.