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Police Abandoned us During herdsmen Invasion – Enugu community

The people of Ukpabi Nimbo, a community in the Uzo-Uwani area of Enugu State, which was attacked by Fulani herdsmen on Monday, have blamed security agencies for failing to act on “credible” information they provided before the attack.

The villagers, who said this when the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, visited the community on Tuesday, stated that they were abandoned even after they alerted security agencies to the plan to attack them.




The General Officer Commanding, 82 Division, Enugu, Major General Attahiru Ibrahim, and the Commissioner of Police, Enugu State, Nwodibo Ekechukwu, were also in the village on Tuesday.

Security was beefed up in the community during the visit, with heavily armed military and police personnel positioned at strategic locations.

A community leader, Dr. George Ajogu, who spoke on behalf of the people of Ukpabi Nimbo at the village square, said the villagers were not taken unawares by the attack.

A corpse of one of the victims of the herdsmen’s attack, which was uncovered in the bush on Tuesday morning, was displayed in a police Toyota Hilux van at the event.

The corpse was said to be that of a secondary school teacher, who was reportedly abducted from his home and killed in the bush by the herdsmen.

Our correspondent observed deep machete cuts on the corpse.

Ajogu added that more corpses were being uncovered in the bush after more than 20 dead bodies were recovered on Monday.

He noted that the attack would have been prevented had the security agencies acted on information made available to them by the villagers.

In an emotion-laden voice, Ajogu stated, “Had it been that security agencies responded appropriately, this would not have happened.

“They (Fulani herdsmen) did not take us unawares, we knew they were coming.

“We are not happy; we have been crying for more than two weeks that our community is under threat. Now, over 20 people are dead.

“We are still discovering corpses; we discovered one corpse this morning and so many corpses are still in the bush.

“We have been shouting and crying but the security agencies did not come to our aid; only one police patrol van comes to this community.

“Because we lack security, the Fulani come here and tell us the land is theirs. They tell the farmers to kneel down and they rape the women in front of their husbands.”

Ajogu noted that due to the location of the village on the border between Enugu and Kogi states, residents of Ukpani Nimbo community were always under attacks from herdsmen, whom he stated sought to turn the villagers’ farmlands into grazing fields for their cattle.

Urging the federal and state governments to come to the assistance of the community, the spokesman said security should be beefed up in the village to forestall future attacks.

He also urged the security agents, who were deployed in the village to restore normalcy after Monday’s attacks, to remain in the community.

“Please don’t leave, if you leave now, they will return to attack us again.

“They (herdsmen) have been killing and raping our people for some time now,” the community leader added.

The Caretaker Chairman, Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area, Mr. Cornel Onwubuya, said he personally alerted the governor, the commissioner of police and heads of other security agencies after he received a confirmation from some Fulani leaders in the area that the herdsmen were going to attack the community.

Onwubuya disclosed that acting on the report, Ugwuanyi convened a state security council meeting on Sunday night.

According to Onwubuya, the said security council meeting lasted till the early hours of Monday, shortly before the herdsmen struck.

He added, “We had a security report that this was going to happen and I convened a meeting with Fulani stakeholders in Enugu State.

“Some Fulani leaders told us that the herdsmen were camped very close to our community. I informed the Commissioner of Police, Enugu State, who assured us that the attack would be stopped.

“He (Commissioner of Police, Enugu) said he would get in touch with the Commissioner of Police in Kogi State to prevent the attack.

“The information we got was credible but unfortunately, they still attacked us.”

On his part, Ugwuanyi, who said heads of the various security agencies in the state assured him that the attack would be failed, described the incident as a sad moment for Enugu State.

Ugwuanyi noted that even as the governor, he was not in control of the security agencies.

He said, “At the emergency security council meeting, which I convened, we were given all the assurances that the attack would not happen.”

He also disclosed that information available to the government revealed that the attack was initiated from Kogi State.

Two lorry loads of herdsmen landed in parts of Kogi State before the attack, he added.

The governor urged the Federal Government to address the menace posed by the herdsmen.

“The Federal Government should do the needful, but as the governor, I call for peace and prayers.

“Until the Federal Government decides to address this situation, this will continue to happen,” he said.

The governor also disclosed that his administration had to restrain restive youths, who wanted to carry out reprisal on northerners in the state.

Ugwuanyi announced a donation of N5m to the community, adding that the government would foot the medical bills of the injured.

He urged the people to embark on two days of fast and prayers, assuring that necessary measures would be taken to beef up security in the area and other parts of the state.

The governor visited the injured in various hospitals where they were receiving treatment.

Injured villagers recount ordeals

One of the injured victims, Patrick Eze, just finished his National Youth Service Corps programme.

Eze sustained severe cuts on his ankles and other parts of his body.

Another victim, Mr. Kingsley Ezeugo, a former local government councillor, said he only survived because the herdsmen left him for dead after inflicting severe machete cuts on him.

Several victims in critical conditions were observed in various hospitals in the Nsukka area.

A youth, who spoke with one of our correspondents, said the herdsmen stampeded the villagers out of their homes by shooting at houses.

“Those who were caught were taken into the bush and slaughtered with machetes,” the youth said.

Our correspondent observed that the community appeared deserted with several villagers leaving the area with their luggage.

Meanwhile, the Enugu State Police Command said it was investigating the incident.

The Police Public Relations Officer, Ebere Amaraizu, who said this on Tuesday, however, said six persons died in the attack.

NLC, Afenifere, MASSOB warn

of dangerous consequences

Organised labour has, however, warned that the incessant attacks on communities by Fulani herdsmen across the country have the capacity to plunge the country into a worse security situation than the raging insurgency in the North-East if not tackled immediately.

The labour movement also berated security agencies for not living up to standard in securing the lives and property of Nigerians.

The General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, and the President of the Trade Union Congress, Mr. Bala Kaigama, made the comments in different telephone interviews with The PUNCH on Tuesday.

Ozo-Eson, who described the reported clashes between the Fulani herdsmen and their host communities as worrisome, urged the Federal Government to address, without delay, the factors responsible for the current migratory crisis.

Ozo-Eson believed that if land needed for grazing cattle was the issue, the Federal Government should address it quickly to stop such killings and destruction which were not  recorded even in countries reputed to be major exporters of meat.

He said, “It is worrisome, we think whatever the push factors are that are leading to this situation need to be dealt with very quickly because we are trying to get out of a major security situation, the insurgency in the North-East.

“And if we allow a situation, in which these clashes allegedly between Fulani herdsmen and various communities and farmers to continue this way, we could actually have a more serious security threat on our hands than even the North-East situation because this is becoming a reoccurring issue across the country.

“There are clashes in Benue, the South-West, South-East, Enugu now, and various other places that are not even reported.

“So, I think that government needs to take this very seriously and do something quickly either by promoting a culture of ranches or whatever other interventions so that these clashes can be avoided.”

He challenged security agencies to ensure that those behind the killings and destruction of property were brought to book in a transparent manner as that remained the only way to earn the confidence of the people.

The TUC boss said, “The performance of the security agencies is below our satisfaction because the security agencies are supposed to wake up to their responsibilities and provide security for Nigerians.

“We cannot go into jungle justice. That is why we are holding the government responsible so that it will not degenerate. We cannot tolerate a situation where innocent souls are being killed like fowls. Government should know that life and property are its duty to protect.”

In a similar vein, the Afenifere has faulted the silence of President Muhammadu Buhari and the state governors on the attacks of Fulani herdsmen on farmers across the country in the recent time.

This was contained in the communique issued at the end of the monthly meeting of the association, held at the home of its leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, in Akure, the Ondo State capital, on Tuesday.

In the communiqué, read by the Publicity Secretary of the association, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, Afenifere said the Federal Government had a duty to protect the lives and property of the citizens of the country.

The association added, “We are worried that Federal Government seems to have maintained indifference to the wanton killings going on across the country against the provisions of the constitution.

“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to speak up on this matter and take urgent action to restore the security of the people of Nigeria, especially in the South and Middle Belt.”

The group also asked the state governments and members of the National Assembly to speak out on the matter before it got out control.

“We also reject the statement of the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, that the Federal Government is working silently on this matter. Several killings cannot be going on and the Federal Government working silently.

“It is unfortunate that that statement is coming from the Federal Government of Nigeria. There can’t be any silent working over these killings and the action of the Federal Government must be open,” Afenifere stated.

In its reaction, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra warned that the herdsmen would no longer be allowed to get away with the destruction of lives and property in the South-East.

MASSOB National Director of Information, Mr. Samuel Edeson, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said, “We condemn the attack on helpless villagers by heavily armed Fulani herdsmen.

“The destruction of lives and property by herdsmen has got out of hand even though we are peace loving people, we cannot allow this to continue in Igboland.”

In the same vein, the Enugu State Chapter of the Social Democratic Party said the Federal Government must speak out to condemn the activities of the herdsmen.

“We call on the Federal Government to speak out against the brazen and atrocious killing of innocent villagers by herdsmen; the Presidency has been silent on this matter for a long time now. The silence seems to be given impetus to the herdsmen.

“We urge the government to condemn the murderous invasion of communities in the strongest terms, and as interim measures, halt the movement of herdsmen from the North to the South until a permanent solution is worked out,” the state chairman of the SDP, Mr. John Nwobodo, said.

Meanwhile, the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 11, Mrs. Kalafite Adeyemi, has advised farmers to always report the destruction of their farms and other atrocities of herdsmen to the police.

The AIG said this while speaking in an interview with journalists during her visit to Kunnike International School, Osogbo, Osun State, on Tuesday.

Adeyemi, who expressed surprise at the facilities in the private school, said the police had ensured that compensation was paid to some farmers, whose farms were destroyed by herdsmen, saying resorting to self-help would worsen the crisis.

The AIG added, “We can reduce the attacks. Those whose farms are destroyed should report to the police. Some of the herdsmen were made to pay damages in the past.”

She stated that the police had been talking to farmers and to the herdsmen to ensure that there were no clashes any more.