The Igbo-Intelligentsia Forum, a professional and advocacy Igbo group, has written an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari expressing strong concerns over the recent statement of the Directorate of State Services (DSS) that it discovered a mass grave in Abia State and that it has identified five of the bodies as Fulani.
The DSS also went ahead to say that the Fulani bodies were corpses of those purportedly murdered by members of the Independent Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), a claim which the forum described as reckless and shameful propaganda.
The forum in the letter signed by Hon Joe Ikunna (Coordinator) and Dr Katch Ononuju (Secretary of Publicity Sub-Committee) went ahead to debunk such claims saying “that the five bodies found in a shallow grave in a bush in Uturu town were actually kidnap victims and that the unfortunate incident has no ethnic coloration whatsoever”. It came to this conclusion after an on-the-spot assessment carried out by the Abia and Imo States governments.
The forum also went ahead to declare that “We are alarmed by these allegations as we do not condone violence of any sort by or against any person or group of persons. Our history as Igbo shows that we have lived peacefully with people of different ethnicities for generations”.
It further stated that “The DSS news statement is tendentious. It is unnerving for those serving in our security services to turn around and stoke a conflagration with capacity to cause ethnic massacre of a segment of the country namely, the Igbo nation.”
It wondered why the DSS is so pre-occupied with the Igbo when no action has been taken on arms bearing Fulani herdsmen who are widely known to visit mayhem on their host communities without provocation.
Consequently, the forum called on president Muhammadu Buhari to set up a judicial commission of enquiry to investigate the unfortunate statement by the DSS, the spread of Fulani herdsmen clashes with agrarian communities and demanded that the national security adviser and the DG of DSS be sanctioned accordingly while a public apology be tendered to the Igbo for the heist statement targeted at them and work towards the immediate disarming of all militia groups in the country including the Fulani herdsmen.
It concluded its letter by advising the president not to allow the business interests of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), a trade association with membership in the civil service, politics and other Fulani investors clash against and undermine national security and corporate well-being of Nigeria.
Read the full letter delivered to The Trent by email on Wednesday, April 21, 2016 below:
OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT.
DSS, IPOB, AND FULANI HERDSMEN.
FROM IGBO INTELLIGENTSIA
President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR
President and Commander in Chief of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria
Aso Rock Villa, Abuja
We are concerned citizens of Nigeria. Our attention has been drawn to a recent news statement by the Department of State Services (DSS) as widely published by a section of the media alleging the discovery by the DSS of a mass grave in Abia State.
The statement further claimed the discovery of decomposing bodies of five Fulani men in a shallow grave who were allegedly killed and buried by elements affiliated to IPOB.
We are alarmed by these allegations, as we do not condone violence of any sort by or against any person or group of persons. Our history as Igbo shows that we have lived peacefully with people of different ethnicities for generations.
Your Excellency will recall that an on the spot assessment by the governments of Abia and Imo states exposed the shameful propaganda of the DSS as it became obvious that the five bodies found in a shallow grave in a bush in Uturu town were actually kidnap victims and that the unfortunate incident has no ethnic coloration whatsoever.
It is nevertheless important to properly situate this news statement as issued by the DSS in the light of contemporary events in Nigeria hence part of our immediate concern is the motive behind the DSS news statement:
- The DSS failed to show evidence of the alleged killing/massacre and the exact picture and location of the alleged grave.
- No mention was made of any forensics conducted on the said bodies to determine the cause and time of death or the true identities of the victims.
- There was no mention of a coroner’s inquest on the said killings.
- There was no mention of any investigation by the police who are constitutionally obliged to investigate and prosecute as appropriate
- There was no mention of arrest of any suspects.
- The basic rudiments of a criminal investigation were not observed.
- It is on record that Nigeria in recent time has been a theatre of killings and beheadings by Fulani Herdsmen. For instance; Fulani Herdsmen were reported to have fought and massacred over 500 Idoma citizens in an effort to convert their ancestral farmlands as cattle grazing field.
- We do not know of any arrests by the DSS or prosecution by the authorities of these notorious insurgents, now ranked as the 4th most deadly terrorist organization in the world.
- It is common knowledge that the Fulani Herdsmen bear arms especially the infamous AK47 assault rifles. They move about freely in a country that does not permit the bearing of such arms by private citizens.
Now let it be known that Igbos are peace loving people and they do not have a history of violence targeted against other ethnic nationalities, religion or culture.
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) have repeatedly stated that they do not bear arms and that their agitations for self-determination is based on their conscientious objection to membership of the Nigerian State.
The DSS news statement is tendentious. It is un-nerving for those serving in our security services to turn around and stoke a conflagration with capacity to cause ethnic massacre of a segment of the country namely, the Igbo nation.
We therefore demand unequivocally as follows. ..
1. That the President of Nigeria should set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to determine the truth of the news statement by the DSS and to investigate the spread of Fulani Herdsmen’s Clashes with agrarian communities in different parts of Nigeria.
2. To sanction the National Security Adviser and the Director General of the DSS, and other officers of their department that contrived the news statement.
3. To direct the DSS to publish a public apology to the Igbos for the heist targeted against them.
4. To immediately disarm all unauthorized bearing of arms in Nigeria by ethnic militias including the Fulani Herdsmen whom the Inspector General of Police claimed are foreigners.
Our position is same as that of the Tiv, Igala, Igbira koto and Igbira Okene, Bassa, Agatu, Igede, Yoruba, Nupe, Hausa, Tangale, Taruk, Birom. Angas, Afor, Doma, Gbagi, Bini, Izon, Uhrobo, Efik, Annang, Ibibbio, Kanuri, Kaje, Bokkos, Ishan, Afemai, Itsekri. Jukun, Kataf, Chiboki, Mada, Obi, Gwandara, Idoma, Kanuri, Bachama etc. and others who inhabit the Sahel savannah and the rain Forrest regions of Nigeria.
We urge the members of the Miyetti Allah to see agriculture as a business that demands considerable investment and responsibility.
We recommend that investors in cattle breeding take a page from the poultry industry by acquiring ranches as Your Excellency did in Daura.
The government must not allow the business interests of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), a trade association with membership in the civil service, politics and other Fulani investors clash against and undermine national security & corporate well-being of Nigeria.
We condemn the push by members of the Miyetti Allah at the National Assembly to appropriate lands from various communities to aid and profit its members at the expense of national security.
We trust that Your Excellency as a Patron of Miyetti Allah will encourage members of the association & other investors in cattle breeding and husbandry to take more responsibility in their private business in which them as investors own 100% of the profits.
We thank your Excellency for your time
Hon. Joe Ikunna
Dr. Katch Ononuju
Secretary, Committee on Publicity.
IGBO INTELLIGENTSIA FORUM