By Emeka Mamah, Emma Nnadozie, Henry Umoru, Chidi Nkwopara, Anayo Okoli, Kingsley Omonobi, Omeiza Ajayi, Chinenye Ozor & Chimaobi Nwaiwu
****Ugwuanyi summons traditional rulers, denies calling Buhari for action,
*** We won’t retaliate, says IPOB
ABUJA—President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered security chiefs to hunt down those who perpetrated the attack on Ukpabi Nimbo community in Uzo-Uwani local government area of Enugu State on Monday.
President Buhari gave the order, yesterday, in an address delivered on his behalf by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, at the public presentation of a book, entitled “Who will Love My Country: Ideas for Building the Nigeria of our Dream”, written by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, in Abuja.
The President’s words: “Before making my remarks about the book, let me use this platform to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the attack perpetrated on the Ukpabi Nimbo community in Uzo-Uwani area of Enugu State on Monday. I deeply sympathise with all those who lost dear ones, as well as those who lost their properties in the attack.
“I have directed the Chief of Defence Staff and the Inspector-General of Police to secure all communities under attacks by herdsmen, and to go after all the groups terrorizing innocent people all over the country. This government will not allow these attacks to continue,” he stated.
Police corporal led attack, indigenes tell IGP
The people of Nimbo in Uzo-Uwani Local Government yesterday told Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Solomon Arase, that policemen who were officially posted to protect them from the Fulani herdsmen disappeared shortly before the attackers arrived and killed over 20 people.
Spokesperson of the community, Dr George Ajogwu, who made this known, told Arase that the Fulani attackers were led by a police corporal serving at Adani Police Station in the local government.
According to him, it was, however, the arrival of another police team from the Area Commander’s office that minimised the level of destruction as the new team challenged the attackers frontally.
Ajogwu’s account of the incident was, however, disputed by the transition committee chairman of the local government, Cornell Onwubuya, who disrupted the speaker, leading to an uproar.
However, Ajogwu, who insisted that he must be allowed to speak as he was a member of the community, said: “What happened was that the policemen posted to the community left, despite the fact that we pleaded with them to stay till those who would relieve them arrived. But they did not listen to us.
“Immediately they moved out that morning, the Fulani herdsmen struck. If the policemen had listened to us, the incident would have been nipped in the bud. It was only the Area Commander’s men from Nsukka that responded.
“I am from this community; what happened affected us. The situation is unbelievable. We cannot say exactly the number of people that died but the death toll is above 20. The Fulani herdsmen had been attacking us on regular basis.
“Annually, we lose two or three people to the Fulani attackers. I am very happy that the IGP is here to witness what the Fulani herdsmen have done to us. On yearly basis, we bury people killed by Fulani herdsmen.
“We do not go to the farms again. We have been crying to the police to help us. The Fulani herdsmen rape our wives in our farms.
“Ralph Ojombo went to the farm when the corporal came with the same Alhaji that attacked our people earlier before now. The corporal is serving at Adani Police Station. The youth were there when he came with the Fulani herdsmen and started shooting at the young boys. What saved most of them was that they ran away. Some of the youths asked him whether he was part of the Fulani herdsmen; he ordered them to shut up their dirty mouths.”
It’s pathetic — Arase
Responding, the IGP, Solomon Arase said: “The incident is very depressing and pathetic. I am not happy about it. The death of one person diminishes humanity. I am concerned about the number of people that died. Even the death of one person means a lot to the entire country. That is why I decided to come and have an on-the-spot assessment of the situation. Most of the stories we have out there were at variance with what is on the ground. Thank God.
“I have been discussing with Senator Chuka Utazi (who represents Enugu North and is from Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area) and the local government chairman (Cornell Onwubuya) even before the incident. We are looking for the panacea to the problem.
“Now that I am here, I am able to see what has happened. We should be able to find solutions to the problems. I can assure Nigerians that no Nigerian who snuffed life out of a fellow Nigerian will got scot-free. We will make sure that we catch the perpetrators of the crime and prosecute them.” Commenting on the police corporal who allegedly led the Fulani attack, Arase said, “The police corporal that was mentioned as conniving with the herdsmen, I have ordered that he should be put in custody. The police have zero tolerance for any police officer that conspires with any criminal.”
Also responding to the claims that more dead bodies were still in the bushes and farms, Arase directed the Enugu State Police Commissioner, Ekechukwu Nwodibo who was present to send the homicide squad from Enugu to join the search parties in a bid to recover all of them. He then promised that a police station would be built at Nkpunato Nkpologwu, near Nimbo to reduce crimes in the area.
Death toll still unknown, says Sen. Utazi
Earlier, Senator Utazi told the IGP that “the communities in Uzo- Uwani have suffered untold hardship for years in the hands of Fulani herdsmen,” adding that the herdsmen and their cattle destroyed farmlands and crops as well as “raped women and kidnapped people along Nsukka-Adani-Onitsha highway.”
Utazi further said that the death toll of Monday’s attack was yet to be known as two corpses were recovered Tuesday following the stench oozing from them. He then appealed to the IGP to ensure thorough investigation into the matter as well as the prosecution of the offenders.
The IGP later visited the palace of the traditional ruler of Nimbo, Igwe John Akor, who lamented the problems being encountered by the people of the area in the hands of Fulani herdsmen who “molest innocent people, rape women, kidnap and rob people at intervals,” and appealed to him to provide security for his subjects.
Akor praised the efforts of the policemen who were on ground on the day of the incident and asked Arase to provide more patrol teams to save the people from being kidnapped and robbed.
Ugwuanyi convenes monarchs, other stakeholders
Following his visit to troubled Ukpabi Nimbo community, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, yesterday, summoned an emergency meeting with traditional rulers, presidents-general of town unions and leaders of the neighbourhood watch groups in all communities in the state.
A reliable source disclosed that the meeting which is part of series of action plans of the state government to find a lasting solution to the menace of the Fulani herdsmen in the state is scheduled to hold next Monday, May 2, at Old Governor’s Lodge, Enugu at 1pm.
The source also revealed that the governor was determined to put an end to the inhuman acts of the herdsmen which have consumed the lives and property of innocent citizens of the state as well as threatened the peace and security of the state and the nation at large.
It could be recalled that Governor Ugwuanyi had while addressing the people of Nimbo community called for peace, fasting and prayers for the intervention of God, assuring them and the people of the state that he will do everything possible within his constitutional powers to end the incessant menace posed by the herdsmen in the state.
The governor also disclosed that when he got a security report on Sunday that the attack will take place in the community, he immediately summoned an emergency meeting of the State Security Council which met on Sunday night till the early hours of Monday, shortly before the herdsmen struck, regretting that the sad incident eventually occurred after all assurances given to him by security operatives that the attack will not happen.
The scheduled meeting, according to the source, is expected to map out the best strategies that would promote peace and end the attacks from the herdsmen.
Meantime, the Chairman of South East Traditional Rulers Council, Eze Eberechi Dick, has called on the Federal Government to immediately intervene and halt the violent rampage by herdsmen across the country.
Eze Dick warned that the ugly incident was taking a frightening dimension and demanded an immediate intervention by the Federal Government, adding that there was an urgent need for President Muhammadu Buhari to curb the dangerous incident.
It’s barbaric, says Gov Okorocha
Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, has described the recent massacre of innocent citizens in Enugu State, as “very unfortunate, senseless and barbaric”, and demanded that “those behind the killings should be made to face the law”.
The Governor, who made his feelings known while addressing traditional rulers yesterday in Owerri, also appealed passionately to President Muhammadu Buhari to “intervene as a matter of urgency in the repeated killings in the South-East by Fulani herdsmen, to forestall future occurrence”.
He charged the traditional rulers in the state to take absolute control of security in their various autonomous communities and to also ensure peaceful co-existence between their people and settlers.
Enugu CAN calls for self-defence
But the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, yesterday expressed outrage over the killing of 46 natives of Nimbo community in Enugu State by Fulani herdsmen.
Addressing journalists , secretary of the religious body in Enugu State, Apostle Dr. Joseph Ajujungwa, said the wanton destruction of lives and properties by the herdsmen could no longer be taken for granted. Expressing shock that security operatives could not nip the attack in the bud despite having prior information, Ajujungwa called on South-East communities to rise up and defend themselves against such attacks.
S’East APC warns
The South East Leadership Caucus of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has also condemned the activities of Fulani herdsmen in the zone.
Zonal spokesman of the party, Osita Okechukwu in a statement issued Wednesday in Abuja said “It is painful that while the Federal Government of Nigeria is doing everything possible to contain the Boko Haram insurgency; another virus in the name of herdsmen is dislocating the security architecture of our dear country.
“Yesterday it was Agatu in Benue State, today it is Ukpabio Nimbo in Enugu State. It must stop”, he stated.
We won’t retaliate —IPOB
The Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB yesterday said it will neither retaliate nor encourage the retaliation of the of the cold-blooded murder of Nimbo people in Uzo Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State, because it is not in their character to unleash violence on people.
It also said it will not play into the hands of blood thirsty dictators who have unleashed their kinsmen now on rampage against innocent Nigerians who allowed them to destroy their farms, crops, rape their women and subsequently kill them in the name of taking care of the herds.
IPOB in a statement signed by its Media and Publicity Officer, Mr. Emma Powerful, said that
they have concluded their action on the killing in Nimbo, by informing the world that they will not retaliate the cold blooded murder of innocent people of Enugu State.
“It is not in our character, neither will we play into the hands of blood thirsty dictators who send their kinsmen on rampage as a forerunner to their evil agenda to subjugate our people. We remain a peace loving, focused and well disciplined mass movement totally committed to freedom.”
Ngwu calls for thorough Police investigation
A member of the House of Representatives and Chairman, House Committee on Women Affairs & Social Development, Princess Stella Ngwu, yesterday, called on the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase and other security agents to immediately embark on a holistic investigation of the circumstances that led to the massacre of defenceless people of Ukpabi/Nimbo in Enugu state by Fulani herdsmen.
Princess Ngwu, who represents the area in the Federal House said in a statement that the “senseless killing of human beings and wanton destruction of properties were premeditated and unprovoked and should be totally condemned.
“I am pained by the sad event. I commiserate with the victims of the attack, families and relations of those killed and the entire people of Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area. I also urge the people of the affected area to be calm and law-abiding, as every necessary step shall be taken to track the perpetrators and bring them to face the law.
“I am using this opportunity to call on the Inspector-General of Police and other relevant security agents and stake holders to immediately embark on a holistic investigation of the situation with a view to bringing the culprits to book and forestalling future occurrence.”
I did not call Buhari on Military— Ugwuanyi
Meanwhile, Governor Ugwuanyi of Enugu State has denied making calls to President Muhammadu Buhari, just as he lauded the President’s order that the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, General Abayomi Olonisakin and the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Solomon Arase should as as matter of urgency go after the suspected herdsmen.
According to him, reports in online media that he made such a call to the President was not only baseless, but unfounded.
In a statement by the Commissioner of Information, Dr. Godwin Udeghele and made available to Vanguard, yesterday, in Abuja, the governor urged the public to disregard such reports which he said cannot be substantiated”
The statement read in part: “The attention of the Enugu State Government has been drawn to reports in online media and facebook that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was responsible for a call to President Muhammadu Buhari who refused to draft Military men to the state following killing of unarmed Nigerians in Uzo-Uwani Council of Enugu State, by persons suspected to be armed herdsmen.
“The Government of Enugu wants to put it categorically clear that such a statement was never made and there was no time a call was made to the president or any one in the presidency.”
“The government describes such media reports as baseless and unfounded which must be disregarded by the public as the need for such a call did not arise.
“We are happy that President Muhammadu Buhari through his Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed has finally announced that as matter of urgency, the service chiefs should go after the suspected herdsmen.
“President Buhari said yesterday that he has also asked the Chief of Defence Staff and the Inspector General of Police to secure all the communities under attacks by suspected herdsmen and go after the groups terrorising innocent people all over the country.
“The Enugu state government is particularly happy that the President has asked that those behind the dastardly act be fished out and it is a welcome development as that had been the prayer of the state government.
“Recall that on the receipt of a call by the chairman of Uzo-Uwani Council by 7pm on Sunday, April 24, the Governor immediately summoned an Emergency security Council meeting by 10pm and in attendance were the Garrison Commander who represented the GOC; the State Commissioner of Poiice, the State Director, DSS and others during which far reaching decisions were taken and they mobilized the same night and the troops were already at Uzo-Uwani.
“Our prayer is that the action of the federal government would finally lay to rest these actions of suspected Herdsmen.
“We urge the public to disregard the media reports as they cannot be substantiated.
“The government of Enugu state wish to call on the people of the state to remain calm and go about their normal businesses.”