“As they campaign vigorously for elections, you would think they are coming to grow the economy, enthrone justice, breed unity and tolerance, love for one another. No, they are coming to enthrone Hausa/Fulani supremacy, to reposition the security agencies by sacking all competent hands and replace them with their kinsmen in order to drive their ethnic domination of the south; the Fulani herdsmen will be armed and encouraged to slaughter us with impunity and their masters will protect them. They are coming to ensure that my people are enslaved forever. Those who do not believe me will soon see it happen before their eyes” – Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Independent Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), in an address to an assembly of the Igbo in the UK on February 6, 2014.
The recent attack on the sleepy community of Ukpabi Nimbo in Uzo-Uwani local government area of Enugu State by suspected Fulani herdsmen has generated an unprecedented furore from a large section of the Nigerian public owing to the circumstances surrounding the action itself which raises a lot of concern and questions about the value our leaders and security agents place on the lives of citizens.
It is most unfortunate that we have degenerated to this level. With the brazenness of the attackers, the alarming proportion of the attacks and the incessantness of this terror, one can hardly fault Nnamdi Kanu’s assertion over two years ago. Although Kanu may not have the calling of a prophet, he, no doubt, has beaten a lot of prophets to their game. The precision of his ‘prophecy’ might just be why he is still being held and bails granted him by our courts defied by those who would rather see Nigerians of other ethnic nationalities perpetually subjugated to them and die as their slaves rather than build a nation where there is equality and where freedom and justice reign.
Rather than come out clean and attack this monster headlong, government and government officials have tried their futile best to dance around the issue by claiming, at various times, that perpetrators of this evil are not Nigerians. When the fact is laid before them that they are indeed Nigerians and of Fulani extraction, they spin some other lies that they are not Fulani but just “herdsmen”. All these go on as a time wasting mechanism while the Fulani herdsmen keep unleashing their terror on innocent and defenceless Nigerians of other extractions.
While on Al Jazeera, Garba Shehu, one of the presidential spokesmen, attempted, albeit fruitlessly, to exculpate the Fulani herdsmen from the new reign of terror. He said part of the problem is that when anything happens, people now say it is Fulani herdsmen, as if the people’s position was contrived. However, Al Jazeera showed Shehu an interview it had with the secretary of the Fulani herdsmen who confirmed that they were responsible for the killings and that they were doing it to defend themselves. At this point, Shehu, like other government officials have always done, attempted to modify his position but he was already caught.
It is therefore not surprising that despite the security agencies being duly informed by no less a person than the governor of Enugu State himself about the looming pogrom just a night before the deadly and unprovoked attack, and having received assurances from heads of the security agencies in the state that such an attack would not happen, the attackers had their way all the way from Nasarawa State where they were purportedly “imported” from to Enugu State without any challenge from any of our security agencies who mount countless road blocks on that axis, and carried out their attack freely and willingly.
I travelled through nearly that same axis recently, and I know how many times I was stopped and delayed by security agents on the road just to see what they could extort from me. With such “effectiveness”, one then wonders how these mercenaries could have purportedly travelled all the way from Nasarawa to Enugu with weapons without being detected by those extorting motorists in the name of policing our highways.
The conspiracy theory gets thicker especially when the president himself had earlier promised people of the South East and South South only 5% government attention while other regions get 97%. Maybe this is why the south east gets only 5% government protection while the Fulani herdsmen are getting 97%? If not, why did the government not clampdown on these marauders who have become law unto themselves? Why, despite their well documented atrocities, they are hardly arrested or prosecuted? Why, despite their going about with sophisticated weapons, none of them is ever arrested for unlawful possession of firearms? Upon that, they use the firearms to sack communities and take over them with impunity, yet, nothing ever happens to them!
It is even most alarming, that the leadership of the Fulani herdsmen had once openly claimed responsibility for these dastardly acts right before the Inspector-General of Police in Makurdi, yet, neither he nor any member of his gang was arrested. Why this is so is very obvious! This is why the police corporal, attached to the Adani police station in Enugu State, who was said to have led the Fulani attack should bear little blame. He probably was learning from his superiors.
However, kudos must be given to our security agents who dared to behave differently even when they knew where the preferences of our leaders anchor. But for reinforcement from the Police Area Command which battled the Fulani herdsmen frontally, the casualty figures in the Enugu attack would have been much higher than the one reported. To the head of that police command, we say kudos! We just hope he/she is not given a punitive transfer for standing up to terrorists.
Then the cowardice of Igbo leaders: what was all that smile about from the governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwianyi, on his visit to Buhari? Did he go to Aso Rock to be turbaned that he went in such a flamboyant flowing gown, grinning with laughter from ear to ear? That governor did not look like a man in pain for the calamity that befell his people. He looked more like a man who had gone with the blood of his people to renew a ritualistic obeisance to a leader who cared less how the blood was obtained.
On October 13, 2000, Buhari had led a delegation of 5 people under the auspices of the Arewa Consultative Forum, to the then governor of Oyo State, Lam Adeshina, to protest the killing of 5 Fulani herdsmen by the Saki people of the State in a reprisal attack against the old menace of the herdsmen. Recounting what transpired on that day in the government house, Mr Agbaakin Kehinde Olaosebikan, the Chief Press Secretary to the then state government had written in Vanguard thus: “At about 2pm, Buhari arrived in a long convoy at the governor’s office in company of the former governor of Lagos State, General Buba Marwa, Alhaji Aliko Muhammed. They all wore long faces. In fact, the anger in them was palpable as all pleasantries extended to them were ignored. ‘This is trouble’ was the expression on the faces of all of us in the governor’s office’.”
Buhari’s attitude on that day was how a caring governor should have approached the issue when visiting the president, but like most Igbo leaders, Ugwuanyi probably turned that auspicious time to an occasion to pledge servility! Little wonder Nnamdi Kanu is incarcerated for so long despite court orders and no Igbo leader speaks for him except friends from distant lands like the Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose and former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode. Yet, some Igbo still vilify these two while our own leaders dine with our traducers right before the cameras!
Lastly, although Buhari has expressed his sympathy over the unfortunate incident that took place at Ukpabi Nimbo, we want to strongly urge him to keep his sympathy to himself and concentrate more on flushing out the criminals behind this dastardly act. This is not a time for niceties!
What is the essence of the sympathy when no action was taken to prevent its occurrence despite the outcry that has greeted the fast-growing needless murders of innocent Nigerians by the herdsmen? Can anyone imagine the disaster that this nation would have been turned into if an emir was abducted and killed by any group from the south eastern, south southern or south western part of Nigeria the way a fully beaded monarch in Ubulu Uku area of Delta State, HRM Akaeze Edward Ofulue 111, was abducted and killed by these same Fulani herdsmen on January 5, 2016? Time and space would not allow us talk about the two-time attack on Chief Olu Falae and the killing of one of his guards nor would we be able to talk about Agatu and others.
I, therefore, find it very curious that Garba Shehu, in his statement following the Enugu attack, say that “Ending the recent upsurge of attacks on communities by herdsmen reportedly armed with sophisticated weapons is NOW a priority…” Does this then confirm our earlier position that this, despite its recurrence and the danger it poses to our nation, was never a priority of this government? Your guess is as good as mine.
Mr President, sir, we want action, not sympathies!
Jude Ndukwe is a political analyst who lives and works in Abuja, Nigeria. He is a member of The Trent’s Elite Columnists. His column is published every Friday. He tweets from@stjudendukwe.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.