The recent killings in different communities across the country by bloodthirsty persons suspected to be Fulani herdsmen has remained a mystery security forces are yet to unravel. Nnamdi Mbawike and Donatus Nadi reports for Leadership that, while the atmosphere in Enugu State is still tense over the recent attack on Nimbo community in Uzo Uwani local government area, the same herdsmen who are being labelled criminals and culprits of the act are facing similar attacks Nasarawa State and some communities in the North Central region.
For indigenes of Nimbo Community in Uzo Uwani local government area of Enugu State, April 25, 2016 will forever remain an unforgettable day in their lives as it was a day that blood flowed like a river in their own ancestral land. While they were enjoying their sleeps on that faithful day, gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen attacked them in the early hours of the day, slaughtering over thirty persons.
According to eye-witness account, the suspected heavily armed Fulani herdsmen, numbering over 200, invaded Nimbo, a border community to Kogi, Benue and Anambra States and operated between 6.30am and 7:30pm. The injured victims of the deadly attack, whose hands and other parts of their bodies were seriously severed, are currently receiving treatment at Bishop Shanaham Hospital Nsukka and National Orthopaedic Hospital, Enugu.
Leadership Weekend gathered that prior to the attack, there was a security report that some armed persons allegedly hired by Fulani herdsmen were planning to attack Nimbo community with dangerous weapons. Although the state governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi said he swung into action to prevent the attack, the mystery surrounding the invasion of the community remains unravelled as security men who were notified and adequately mobilized failed to prevent the attack.
Surviving indigenes of Nimbo, who spoke to Leadership Weekend, averred that the suspected herdsmen attacked the community few minutes after policemen, who were drafted to protect residents of the community abandoned their duty post. They accused the police of complicity in the attack, alleging that a policeman, identified as Corporal Chukwu led the armed men that attacked them.
Though the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase ordered for detention of Corporal Chukwu few days when he visited the embattled community, victims of the attack have continued to insist that the order was not enough, stressing that other policemen, who were directly or indirectly involved should also be punished.
Angered by the inability of security agencies to prevent the attack, Governor Ugwuanyi swiftly convened a meeting of stakeholders at government house where he insisted that security agencies have questions to answer. Ugwuanyi, who burst into tears when he visited Nimbo community few days after the attack, told the stakeholders that he made adequate security arrangement and provided logistics for security agencies. He regretted that they failed to prevent the attack.
He said, “After receiving these assurances of deployments to Nimbo, I felt quite confident that we had done everything possible to forestall an attack on Nimbo. I have 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 30 am. 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.
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 traumatized community in shock and despair. I saw a dead body. I wept. 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.
“I 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 our values and not engage in such dastardly act as we have witnessed recently.
“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. What happened between 6.30am and 7.30 am on Monday 25th April, 2016 despite assurances from the Security Agencies? Only the security agencies can answer this question”, he further stated.
Apart from convening a meeting of stakeholders, Ugwuani has also met with traditional rulers and town union leaders with a view to strengthening neighbourhood organisations in the villages. Addressing the traditional rulers and union leaders, ugwuanyi promised to activate the provisions of the Neigbourhood Association and Watch Groups Law 2006 which provides for the establishment and operation of neighbourhood watch associations in every autonomous community in Enugu State. He explained that the decision followed the attack that took place at Nimbo in Uzo Uwani local government area of Enugu State.
The governor said though these associations have been constituted in many communities, they understand that most of them have not been functional mainly due to lack of funding and other incentives. He further told the traditional rulers and the president-generals to work harmoniously towards the success of the initiative, adding that it would help to ensure that ugly situations like what happened at Nimbo, do not recur in any community in Enugu State.
The governor, however, stressed, that the initiative was not in any way intended to diminish the responsibilities and duties of the security agencies, to provide effective security for our people, saying it is rather, designed to aid and assist them in the discharge of those duties.
As Ugwuanyi was putting all these in place in Enugu, his counterparts from the North under the auspices of Northern Governors Forum, as well as the All Progressives Congress Governors paid him a condolence lent their voices in condemning the attack and describing the perpetrators as criminals. Chairman of the Northern Governor’s Forum, Ibrahim Kashim Shetima said they were in the state to register their profound condolences on the killings that took place in this state over a week ago. He described Nigeria as one nation with a common destiny and urged the people to maintain the spirit of forgiveness. While assuring that they would find the killers, he vowed that when the are caught, they would be treated like criminals.
Also, speaking during a condolence visit to the Enugu State governor, the good people of the state, Chairman of the APC Governors’ Forum and governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha insisted that the perpetrators of the attack should be treated like criminals. Okorocha disclosed that they were in Enugu State to sympathize with the people over the deadly attack that killed scores of people, advising Nigerians not to see it as an ethnic issue because we are all Nigerians.
He described the demise of the victims of the attack as painful, stressing that it was sad a development because the perpetrators are human beings.
…In Nasarawa, Herdsmen Suffer Unprovoked Reprisal Attack
News of violent clashes involving farmers, communities and Fulani herdsmen currently dominates public discourse, especially after the killings in Agatu community of Benue state and the massacre in Uzo- Uwani local government area of Enugu state. While it is convenient to lay blames on Fulani herdsmen for brutally attacking innocent members of affected communities across the country, it is also pertinent to look at other remote courses that lead to such bloodbath though no justification could be advanced for such massacre of human lives.
The recent occurrence in Adayi in Nasarawa local government where over 80 cattles were killed in an unprovoked attack points to the fact that the Fulani are also victims of molestation by some communities though little is known of what provokes their violent reactions and attendant loss of lives and property.
While there was almost a unanimous condemnation of the brutal attack on Agatu community by the Fulani across the entire nation, the incident at Adayi could yet again fuel such aggression except government takes urgent steps to check it.
The Nasarawa state Police command had on Monday this week confirmed the killing of 83 cows belonging to one Bajega Abdullahi at Adayi village, Loko Development Area of Nasarawa local government. The spokesperson of Fulani community in Adayi, Mallam Bideri Ahmadu alleged that Agatu youths crossed over from Benue state at about 10:30 am on Saturday, 30th April, 2016, shooting sporadically in the air to scare the herding Fulani youths.
Ahmadu narrated that their initial intention was to rustle the cows in their boats across the river Benue but rattled by gunshots the cattle went berserk. “Upon realising they could not achieve their aim, the Agatu youths opened fire on the cows, killing 83 instantly, while others who sustained bullet wounds are lying critical in the bush”.
When LEADERSHIP Weekend visited the area, the paramount ruler of the area, the Mai Loko, Alhaji Abubakar Ahmed Sabo, lamented that in the recently over 20 men, women and children in the area were killed in the incessant attacks on Fulani people by the Agatu youths from Benue. The royal father who condemned the unprovoked attack on Fulani settlement in the area, regretted that Agatu youths who continuously attack, kill and maim people in border settlements in neighbouring Nasarawa state were quick to resort to media propaganda to cover their dastardly acts.
He appealed to Governor Umaru Tanko Almakura to always take proactive steps in ensuring that the public also gets prompt and accurate perspective on their plight rather than allow their assailants from Benue to continually play propaganda politics with the incessant destruction of lives and property. He lamented that when a Fulani community or their cows are attacked and killed, no eyebrow is raised and no condemnation is heard from any quarters but when the Fulani retaliates, people unite in condemnation.
He also pointed out the fact that one of the reasons why clashes have continued unabated is directly linked to the problem of inadequate security personnel to maintain law and order.
In a disturbing revelation, however, the monarch said that Loko Development Area has only two unarmed police officers despite the spate of communal clashes recorded in the area. “As a border town which records frequent attacks from Agatu youths, we only have two Police officers with no rifle. We only get assistance from soldiers stationed at the bridge construction site at Oweto to repel attacks”, he stated.
He warned the Fulani against retaliation, saying government has waded into the matter and any act of retaliation would not be condoned. The Director of Personnel Management (DPM) of the development area, Danlami Umar, lamented that the community which predominantly thrives on fishing can no longer practice its trade as the water body in the area has been overtaken by Agatu youths who kill any one seen on the river for any business.
He said the community comes under continuous attack from Agatu youths for giving shelter to Fulani people who fled Agatu local government in Benue state in the wake of the recent outbreak of violence in the area. The border community has variously been accused of harboring Fulani mercenaries who used area as launching ground for attacks on Benue communities.
He called for the stationing of marine police and naval bases in the area to curtail the recurring attacks, even as he lamented that soldiers are stationed on the Benue border while Nasarawa is left without security. Abdullahi who lost 83 cows to the recent attack on Adayi settlement said on the fateful day, his children reported the attack on them, while herding in the bush when armed youths from across the border attacked, Killing their cattle.
He said after the attack, 83 cows were counted dead while over 50 are still unaccounted for, adding that about fifteen with gunshot wounds were receiving local medical treatment.
Confirming the incident, the police public relations officer (PPRO) ASP Ismaila Numan the Nasarawa division of the police received a report of the killing of 83 cows by suspected hoodlums. He said Police is investigating the matter and warned against any retaliation saying the Police would not rest on its ors until the perpetrators are brought to justice.