The Transition Committee Chairman of Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State, Chief Cornel Onwubuya, on Monday told the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Nimbo Killings that some traditional rulers collected money from the herdsmen to permit them graze their cattle in some communities within the Uzo-Uwani council area, of Enugu state.
He said that because the herdsmen part with their money before being given pass to graze their cattle, they felt quite emboldened to do whatever pleased them including feeding their cattle with farm crops and destruction of farms.
“Based on my interactions with them, they don’t see anything wrong in what they are doing in people’s farmlands,” he said. “The problem is also that you see a very small boy controlling over 100 cows. How can a small boy control such number of cattle without them causing destruction on farms?” he added.
Answering question from the commission on whether money were collected from herdsmen by the native rulers or other individuals before permitting them to pasture their cows, Onwubuya said: “We ‘ve had cases where some traditional rulers were said to have collected money from the herdsmen; and not only the traditional rulers, we have had instances where sometimes people collect money from the herdsmen and give them pass to graze in their communities even when such people are not authorized to issue pass to the herdsmen.”
Onwubuya, who testified before the commission on the April 25, 2016 attack by suspected herdsmen on the Nimbo community which claimed many lives with properties worth millions of naira destroyed, also told the commission that often the herdsmen would realize that they had paid to the wrong people because the people that issued pass to them were not authorized to do so.
He recalled that he had earlier given information to the security men about the impending attack three days before the killings, stressing that he informed them that about 500 assailants were camped at a place called Ameke and that they would attack Nimbo. “I made information available to the Governor, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, the then Commissioner of Police, Nwodibo Ekechukwu, and the Area Commander for Nsukka and the DPO. Every bit of information I got, I released it on good time. I gave them information three days before the attack, and how they treated the information is left to the security men.”
He further explained: “We knew they were coming and we knew where they were coming from and we knew where they were camped and we knew they would attack us.”
He said that from the information “we gave to the police, I believe they can even sort out this matter without catching those they arrested. There are other alternatives to get at those who masterminded the attack. I believe that all of them knew what was happening because before the attack everybody including the herdsmen and their cows left the area.
Asked his opinion on how solve the problem, Onwubuya told the panel that as an official of the government, he would be neutral in the matter even while making sure that both the herdsmen and their hosts co-existed peacefully. “All complaints come to me; complaints from the herdsmen. All I’m doing is to ensure a peaceful co-existence between the two parties.” (Daily Trust)