By Emeka Mamah, Festus Ahon & Levinus Nwabughiogu
ENUGU — Governors of the All Progressives Congress, APC, under aegis of Progressives Governors Forum, PGF, yesterday, stormed Enugu Government House, to commiserate with Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on the killing of about 46 people of Nimbo community in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of the state by rampaging Fulani herdsmen.
They vowed to “join hands with the Federal Government to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book and forestall a recurrence, adding that “this time, we speak about the unity of this country.”
This came as President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, restated his resolve to deal decisively with marauding Fulani herdsmen. The President maintained his stance against the background of reports of continued attacks on communities across the country by armed herdsmen.
APC Govs vow to fish out perpetrators
Worried by the slaughter of 46 natives of Nimbo community in Enugu State on April 25, governors of the APC, led by Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, said they were in Enugu to share in the peoples’ moment of grief, even as he reiterated the need for unity and indivisibility of the nation.
While addressing Governor Ugwuanyi and the State Executive Council members at the Exco Hall, Government House, Okorocha said: “We are governors from various states representing the entire governors elected under APC platform.
“We are here because of the tragic incident that took place here on April 25. Death is painful but the most is, man-made death. We are here because you are one of us, irrespective of political party affiliations.
“In death, we are one. We are here to commiserate with you and the people of Enugu State over the dastardly act. You (Ugwuanyi) have shown maturity in handling the provocative incident. The traditional rulers have demonstrated a high sense of leadership by suing for peace rather than retaliation.
“This incident is a criminal act and cannot be associated with tribe, religion or political party. We condemn it in its entirety. We will join hands with the Federal Government to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book and forestall a recurrence.
“This time, we speak about the unity of this country. All the APC governors would have been here but we are representing them because of some tight schedules. We re-affirm the unity of this country which is not negotiable. Our sympathy goes to the victims and their families. This matter is being handled with utmost urgency by the Federal Government.”
Speaking on behalf of Northern Governors under APC, Governor Ibrahim Shettima of Borno State, said: “We are here to register our profound condolence to the people of Enugu State over their tragic loss. As a nation,we mourn and rejoice with each other at different times. We have lived with our brothers and sisters in the North-East ravaged by Boko-Haram for years.
“What kept us going was the empathy from people living outside the North-East. Times like this call for maturity, calmness, leadership role. We are one nation with a common destiny. The killers should be treated like criminals and should be fished out and dealt with.”
Welcoming the visitors, Governor Ugwuanyi assured that a judicial panel of inquiry had been set up, adding that government had moved to fund the 472 Neighbourhood Watch Groups in all communities in the state to compliment efforts of the security agencies to forestall a repeat of such dastardly act.
I’ll deal with Fulani herdsmen, Buhari vows
Speaking at a meeting with members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, led by the Archbishop of Jos, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama Monday night, President Buhari confirmed that heads of national security agencies had been ordered to take all necessary action to apprehend and expose those behind the heinous attacks.
“We are determined to secure all Nigerians and I have told the Inspector-General of Police and other security agencies, in very strong terms, to deal decisively with the attackers,” he said.
The President in a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, also “expressed his personal condolences to the Catholic Bishop of Enugu, the people of Ukpabi Nimbo and all other communities that have suffered fatalities and other losses from the recent attacks”.
The President also gave assurance that he would fulfill his campaign promises to Nigerians, saying he was going about it “methodically”.
He regretted that the previous governments failed to pursue the economic development of Nigeria even with the all-time rise of oil prices.
“We need to rebuild our institutions methodically, we need to change the way we do things. In the last 10 years, crude oil sold for more that $100 per barrel, but Nigeria did not save. That is why we have found ourselves where we are today,” he said.
Speaking to journalists at the end of the meeting, the leader of the group, Most Rev. Kaigama, expressed the solidarity of the CBCN with the President. The bishops pledged continued prayers for Nigeria and the government, asking Nigerians to be more patient with the government. The clerics also appealed to the president to intervene in the issue of excessive taxation imposed on catholic schools.
He said: “The catholic bishops in Nigeria have come to the villa to greet the President. We had a warm and cordial meeting. We heard the President talk with passion about how to make this county better and to mobilise all Nigerians to selflessly put in their best.”
Call to prosecute CP, Army Commander
Also yesterday, indigenes of Nsukka called for the arrest and trial of Enugu State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Nwodebo Elechukwu, and the GOC of 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Brig. Gen. Olufemi Akinjobi, over their alleged complicity in the attack.
Addressing a press conference under the auspices of Nsukka Platform, Asaba, a socio-cultural organisation of professionals from Nsukka zone resident in Asaba, the natives expressed anger over the gruesome massacre of their kits and kins in Nimbo community and urged traditional rulers and community heads in the South East to strengthen their neighbourhood watch for utmost efficiency.
Chairman of the Professionals, Dr. Pius Ike, accused the military and police chiefs of gross dereliction of duty.
Ike said: “For breach of their responsibility, they should be arrested and tried. The service chiefs were invited on April 24 to Government House where Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi alerted them of the planned attack.
“They assured the governor that the situation was under control. But the following day, herdsmen unleashed mayhem on Nimbo community, killing people at will without any form of resistance from security agencies.
“This is dereliction of duty and complicity on the part of the security chiefs.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters, yesterday, stormed the streets of Enugu, protesting the killing of over 40 people at Nimbo community in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of the state by Fulani herdsmen.
The demonstrators, which included 13 civil society groups marched through some major streets of Enugu metropolis from Michael Okpara Square, to Government House, where they presented their grievances to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on the killing of Nimbo indigenes.
Receiving the protesters, Governor Ugwuanyi said he felt so sad when he visited the troubled community, to the extent that he wept openly after seeing dead bodies and scores of displaced persons in the community.
He further told the protesters that he had already met with the traditional rulers in the state and other stakeholders, with a view to averting a recurrence.
Earlier, spokesperson of the coalition, Mrs. Joy Onyeso, had told the governor that 13 organizations convened on Thursday, April 28, 2016, at Roban Hotel, Enugu, to look into the Fulani herdsmen crisis at Nimbo community.
“We strongly condemn the killings, abductions and maiming of our people in vulnerable communities in recent past, especially the killings of April 25 at Nimbo community of Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area that claimed several lives.
“ We demand a comprehensive public and transparent enquiry into the immediate and remote causes and aftermaths of the Nimbo community killings by alleged Fulani herdsmen.”
Enugu Police Commissioner redeployed
Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase has ordered the redeployment of the Enugu State Police Commissioner, CP Nwodibo Ekechukwu, to the Eastern Port Police Command.
A new Commissioner of Police has subsequently been appointed for Enugu State; he is CP Emmanuel Ojukwu. Until his appointment, CP Ojukwu was the Commissioner of Police, Eastern Port Command. He was at one time the Commissioner of Police, Kogi State.
CP Ojukwu had also served as the Force Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Police and the officer in charge of criminal investigations at Zone 7 Police headquarters, Abuja.