May 5, 2016

Enugu Attacks: Northern senators warn govs, other leaders


By Innocent Anaba, Kingsley Omonobi,  Henry Umoru, Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Joseph Erunke & Enyim Enyim
ABUJA — Spurred by the divergent comments trailing the Fulani herdsmen attacks in communities across Nigeria, senators from the North, under the aegis of Northern Senators, yesterday warned governors, leaders and community heads in the country to desist from making inflammatory statements that could further overheat the polity.

This came as Defence Headquarters also, yesterday, vowed that whoever was involved in the killing of innocent Nigerians must be brought to book, in line with the laws of the land.



Rising from a meeting in Abuja, the northern senators promised that, as part of moves to nip in the bud the continued clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers, the lawmakers would soon come up with new laws as well as amend existing ones to help promote the interest of Northern Nigeria in particular and the country at large.

They also warned that there would be no country called Nigeria, if other parts of the country asked Fulani herdsmen to leave their communities and states.

Reading a communique issued at the end of the meeting to journalists, Chairman, Northern Senators’ Forum, Senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC, Nasarawa West), who noted that the forum resolved to continue its support for President Muhammadu Buhari in order to bring about even development to all sections of the country, said members of the Forum shall work assiduously to enact laws and amend existing ones.

He said:  “We appreciate the steps the Federal Government had taken so far to contain the problems of herdsmen/farmers clashes and call on community leaders to be careful when making statements on these ugly incidences.”

Asked whether the forum’s call on community leaders to be mindful of what they say was also applicable to governors of respective states, Senator Adamu said:  “It is for all Nigerians. A governor is a community leader. The only difference is that he has a label called governor.

“If you don’t mind, in recent times, it started with the West when elder statesman, Chief Olu Falae, had some very nasty experience. It was attributed at the time to Fulani herdsmen. At the end, those people were apprehended and they were not Fulanis.

“This thing has been going on in virtually all parts of the country today. If we now say that everybody should rise and say herdsmen should leave, we will not have a country.”

It would be recalled that Northern governors were reported to have said that Fulanis were not culpable in the spate of killings in Agatu, Enugu, others.

Dealing with perpetrators

While speaking at a meeting held at Defence Headquarters between the committee set up to investigate alleged attacks and killings by herdsmen across the country and the leadership of Miyetti Allah, Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin, warned that the military would no longer tolerate any excuse for armed men to unleash violence on innocent Nigerians, be it herdsmen, farmers or any other armed group of whatever guise or name.

Olonisakin, who was represented by the Director of Administration, Defence Headquarters, Major-General Fatai Ali, also disclosed that the military, in conjunction with other security agencies, would do everything possible to restore order in line with the directives of President Buhari.

Backing govs on arrest of culprits

Also yesterday, the All Progressives Congress, APC, South-East geopolitical zonal caucus, expressed satisfaction with the conduct of its governors who were in Enugu State to commiserate with Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State on the slaughter of 46 Ukpabi, Nimbo natives on April 25 by Fulani herdsmen.

A statement signed by the Publicity Secretary, Osita Okechukwu, read thus: “For us, the APC governors’ visit is the soothing balm needed most urgently at this tempestous moment of grief, despair and despondency.

“More so, ethnic merchants have quickly latched on the unfortunate recurring altercation nationwide between herdsmen pastoralists and farmers, for the ignoble objective to further promote hate, division and widen the fault lines.

“We are also enthused with the APC Governors Forum’s solemn pledge not only to join hands with the Federal Government to make sure that the perpetrators and their masterminds are fished out, but also pledge that this is the last of such heinous incident.”

Anambra North, Ayamelum communities live in fear

However, the people of Awka North and Ayamelum local government areas of Anambra State now live in fear of possible invasion of their communities by suspected Fulani herdsmen that have recently unleashed attacks on some communities in the South East.

Chairman of Awka North Local Government, Chief Cosmas Okonkwo, yesterday, in an interview with Vanguard, said the incessant attacks by the Fulani herdsmen on communities bordered by Kogi State had become a serious concern for the people who no longer sleep with their eyes closed.

Okonkwo hinted that the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano, had set up a cattle menace committee, headed by the police commissioner in the state, with traditional rulers, presidents-general of town unions, leaders of Fulani communities and other security agencies in the state as members.

He said the police had been deployed to some parts of the state to ensure that there was no security lapses in the bid to protect the people from the attacks of the herdsmen.

While opposing the grazing bill, he described it as a ploy to foist Fulani herdsmen on the people of the South-South and South-East in particular.

Grazing Bill before National Assembly—Group

Meanwhile, a civil society group, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, Intersociety, has insisted that a Grazing Reserve Bill was pending before the House of Representatives, contrary to claims by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, that there was no such bill before the National Assembly.

Intersociety in a statement in Onitsha, Anambra State, yesterday, by its chairman, Mr Emeka Umeagbalasi, said:  “The latest of such statements credited to the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ekweremadu during his recent outing in Enugu, we state strongly are deceitful, diversionary, distractive and misleading.

“We had sent our position to the National Assembly through the Senate President and the House Speaker, dated April 26, 2016, stating as follows: “Two Bills concerning the above subject matter, originally drawn from the National Grazing Reserve (Establishment & Development) Bill 2008, introduced and sponsored by Senator Zainab Kure of Niger South Senatorial District of Niger State in the 6th National Assembly (2007-2011); are presently before the House of Reps.

“The two bills are aimed at creating grazing reserves, ranches and cattle reserves across the 36 states to be funded with public funds through the establishment of a National Grazing Reserve Commission, an agency to be placed under the direct control of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is also the national patron of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN.”

CAN goes to NHRC

In another development, Benue State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, yesterday, lodged a complaint at the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, over alleged killings and wanton destruction of property in the state by suspected Fulani herdsmen.

While submitting a copy of the petition to the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Prof. Bem Angwe, the CAN delegation, led by its Chairman in Benue State, Rev. Augustine Akpen Leva, expressed dismay at what it described as “failure of government to curb the incessant, unwarranted killings and wanton destruction of property” in various parts of the state, allegedly perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen.

Rev Leva told the commission that “these mindless killings and invasion of the land reached its climax from 2013 and is advancing with sporadic and regular attacks here and there”.

He said: “The worst affected local government areas so far are Agatu, Makurdi (Adaka, Adeke, Adem, Upahar, Tse-Kwaghbo, Apir and Mbalagah communities). Others are Gwer-West, Logo, Katsina-Ala, Kwande and Guma (Tse-Oragbo and Tse-Anundu) and Tarka Buruku”.

CAN demanded adequate compensation from federal and state governments to assuage the feelings of the people who had been traumatized and dehumanized, following the series of attacks unleashed on them from time to time by marauding herdsmen.

Besides, the association told the commission that the herdsmen were equipped with sophisticated weapons.