Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State on Friday reviewed last Monday’s invasion of Ukpabi Nimbo Community in Uzouwani Local Government Area of the state by suspected Fulani herdsmen, where scores of people were killed and property worth millions of naira destroyed.
Ugwuanyi disclosed that “only the security agencies can answer why” the attacks took place as they had given him assurances that the herdsmen attacks would be forestalled.
Addressing major stakeholders in the state, including the deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu; members of the National and State Assemblies; council Chairmen and members of the State Executive Council; as well as Peoples Democratic Party chieftains at the Government House, the governor explained:
“On Sunday, April 24, 2016, by 7 pm, the night before this carnage took place, I got security information from Uzo-Uwani Local Government Transition Chairman, Hon. Cornell Onwubuya that such an incident was likely to take place in the state.
“I immediately summoned a meeting of the State Security Council, which commenced by 10pm.
“The meeting was attended by the following: 1. Garrison Commander Brigadier General Olufemi Akinjobi who normally represents the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division Nigerian Army 2. The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Nwodibo Ekechukwu 3. The State Director of Department State Security Services (DSS), Mr. M. Abdul Malik 4. The State Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Mr. Lar Stephen 5. Representatives of the Nigerian Air force, Federal Road Safety Corps and Nigerian Prison Services, who attended as observers.
“From the side of government were, myself, the Governor, the Deputy Governor, the Secretary to the State Government, the Chief of Staff, the Chairman, State Traditional Rulers Council and the Honourable Attorney General of the State.
“In the meeting, we received assurances from the Commissioner of Police that the Area Commander of SARS was on ground in Nimbo.
“- That the Anti-Terrorism Unit was at Nimbo.
“- That he was in contact with the Kogi State Commissioner of Police and reported suspected herdsmen grouping at Odolu in Kogi State preparatory for an attack on Nimbo and Abbi communities.
“- That Police mobile force and conventional police were already drafted to Nimbo and Abbi communities.
“- That he was in touch with the Area Commander, ldah, ACP lkegwuonwu and had linked him with the Area Commander, Nsukka, ACP lVlonday Kuryas.
“Both men, according to the CP, reported that there were no traces of suspected herdsmen in Nsukka or Idah.
“- That he ordered the Area Commander, Nsukka to redeploy to Nimbo.
“- That the Garrison Commander on his part assured the meeting that Military was already deployed to Nimbo.
“The State Government provided logistics for these deployments.
“After receiving these assurances of deployments to Nimbo, I felt quite confident that we had done everything possible to forestall an attack on Nimbo.”
Ugwuanyi stressed that he “deliberately narrated what transpired at the Security Council meeting fully conscious of the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution pertaining to my oath of office.
“I am doing this in due discharge of my duties as Governor.
“Sadly, in the early hours of Monday reports of this carnage reached me.
“More disturbing was the report that the attack of innocent and defenceless citizens were carried out at about 6:30am.
“Further reports available to me indicate that apart from the killing and maiming of innocent and defenceless citizens of Nimbo, a Church was also burnt.
“Following this development, I engaged the security agencies in order to ensure that the Nimbo area was secured from further attacks that might escalate the situation.”
Ugwuanyi stated that “on Tuesday, April 26, 2016, I visited Nimbo in order to establish firsthand the extent of carnage.
“My visit to Nimbo was revealing.
“I came face to face with the wounded and bereaved.
“I saw burnt and damaged personage of Christ Holy Church.
“I saw a traumatised community in shock and despair.
“I saw a dead body.
“I wondered what has become of our quest for a united, peaceful and prosperous nation.
“Our first national anthem had a phrase which went thus: ‘though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand.’”
The governor alluded that “only two weeks ago we gave a posthumous award to Alhaji Umaru Altine, a Katsina born Muslim who was elected mayor of Enugu before the Civil War, in the period that Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was leader of the NCNC.
“Now in less than three months, violent clashes have occurred in Enugu State in Awgu, Nike, Abbi and Nimbo between suspected Fulani herdsmen and our people.
“This situation cannot be allowed to continue.
“For this reason, I sought audience with His Excellency, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
“Our discussions were frank and cordial.
“I am very grateful to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari, for his prompt and decisive reaction to the incident in Nimbo.
“The President came out with a clear and unmistakable condemnation of this dastardly act and gave clear and definite directives to the security agencies to fish out these criminals and bring them to justice.
“l have called you today not just to brief you on what has happened so far, but to discuss in depth with you on what we must all do to prevent the occurrence of such incidents in the future.
“So long as we are Nigerians, we cannot live in isolation, but those who come to Enugu must respect out values and not engage in such dastardly act as we have witnessed recently.”
Ugwuanyi also indicated that he would constituting a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the immediate and remote causes of all the violent occurrences in the State associated with suspected Fulani herdsmen and recommend appropriate measures that will be put in place to prevent future occurrence.
He said: “I am at once constituting a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the immediate and remote causes of all the violent occurrences in the State associated with suspected Fulani Herdsmen and recommend appropriate measures that will be put in place to prevent future occurrence.”
Ugwuanyi also directed “all security agencies in the State to ensure that lives and property of the people of the State and all its residents are protected.”