Herdsmen attacks: We may resort to self-defence – Igbo town unions

IGP Solomon Arase
IGP Solomon Arase

The rampant invasion of communities across the country by suspected herdsmen, particularly last week’s attack on Ukpabi-Nimbo community in Uzo Uwani council area of Enugu State, has raised tension in the South-East.

The tension was prompted, especially because the Ukpabi-Nimbo invasion came less than three weeks after the same suspected herdsmen invaded another Enugu community, Ugwuleshi in Awgu, where 76 people were arrested and clamped into Umuahia Prisons where they spent over 10 days before being granted bail by an Umuahia Magistrates Court.

The increased attacks by suspected herdsmen in the South-East and other areas have pushed government, communities and groups to take proactive measures. For instance, Abia State House of Assembly has passed a resolution, mandating security agencies to thoroughly search all trucks and other vehicles conveying to the state or passing through the state, laden with cattle, onion, tomato, fruit and other goods, from other parts of the country. The resolution of the House was prompted by a motion of urgent public importance raised by the Minority Leader, Mr. Chibuzo Okogbuo, who lamented the carnage caused by the suspected herdsmen in the Enugu community.

In the resolution, the House also urged security agencies to promptly prosecute herdsmen found in possession of illegal arms. To further checkmate herdsmen, the lawmakers mandated every community in Abia State to be “vigilant, proactive and resist the ugly activities of herdsmen”.

The House equally called on traditional rulers in the state to sensitize their people on the destructive activities of herdsmen and to engage the leadership of Hausa/Fulani communities in their areas in interactive sessions aimed at embracing a peaceful relationship.

The Speaker of the House, Mr. Martins Azubuike, in his remarks, urged security agencies to be more vigilant and alive to their responsibilities and ensure adequate protection of lives and property.

Meanwhile, some Igbo leaders have blamed herdsmen’s attacks on the inaction of President Muhammadu Buhari, saying that only the President can halt the rampaging herdsmen. Some of them also blamed state governors for not taking drastic actions against the invaders, urging them to be proactive in warding off the attacks by the herdsmen.

According to the Chairman of South East Town Unions, Chief Emeka Diwe, Buhari’s long silence over the invasion of communities and killing of innocent Nigerians by herdsmen was not encouraging. As the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, the President, he said, must ensure the protection of lives and property and lamented that the Constitution left state governors powerless in matters of security.

“The truth is that only Buhari can stop his kinsmen from the attacks. This level of invasion, raping of women and killing of innocent Nigerians is suspicious. The least expensive solution, which is also the most effective in solving the problem of herdsmen’s attacks is that only Buhari can stop his kinsmen”, Diwe said.

“For those blaming state governors, what do they want them to do? The President is the commander-in- chief of the armed forces. No governor has direct control of any security service in Nigeria. At least, we learnt about the problem encountered by the Enugu governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, in his effort to reach out to President Buhari over the Fulani herdsmen attacks in his state. The President is supposed to be working directly with governors on security issues. What sense did it make that after the people of Ukpabi-Nimbo were killed and houses burnt, security was later deployed? I think we are playing politics with security issues.

“As leaders of town unions in the five states of the South-East, we are disturbed by the activities of the rampaging Fulani herdsmen who have continued to destroy farmlands, rape women and kill innocent people. We are further worried that President Buhari is yet to give this problem the serious attention it deserves. The Fulani herdsmen attack did not start today, but the question is: Were they this daring in their attacks before Buhari emerged President?

“People have been killed in Agatu; in Delta, a monarch was kidnapped and found dead. Millions of others have been displaced from their homes. Now Ukpabi-Nimbo community in Enugu has been attacked and people massacred. Enough is enough; we won’t tolerate this again in any part of Igbo land. Nigeria is treading a dangerous path. The President should do everything to douse the suspicion. We are not saying he sent them, but he has the authority to check the attacks to avoid reprisal. Otherwise, individuals and communities may resort to self-defence”.

A civil servant in Umuahia, who simply gave his name as Mr. Nwoke, also blamed security agencies for the spread of the attacks by herdsmen, saying they lack adequate intelligence. He also questioned the Department of State Service [DSS] silence over the attacks on Enugu communities when they raised the alarm over alleged shallow graves with five Fulani and two Igbo bodies. Nwoke cautioned them on the way they handle issues to avoid stoking crisis. (Vanguard)

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