By Nwobodo Chidiebere
WITH sorrow-ridden spirit and a mind of fortitude, I bring you felicitation from the heart-broken, tearful, good and peace-loving citizens of Enugu State. As you are already aware, the historical land of Coal City State and political capital of Igbo Nation, was invaded, defiled and desecrated by murderous, blood-thirsty, armed Fulani herdsmen in Ukpabi Nimbo community of Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State.
This sad event took place on 25th of April, 2015 without any sort of State protection by Nigerian security forces for the effected community, irrespective of intelligent reports made available to them before this dastardly act. After the highly condemnable, barbaric, sadistic and unfortunate massacre, of over sixty defenceless innocent souls, who were slaughtered like Salah rams in the abattoirs, and more than hundred people were brutally inflicted with deep injuries, thereby automatically disfiguring some of them for life. My ancestral land became horrible scenes of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man.
For the purpose of clarity and sound judgement, I will like to state categorically that my beloved and only state—Enugu, was smirred with blood of her citizens by Fulani herdsmen-propelled spirit of death, just for this single reason—for being part of an insecured state under your watchful eyes as Commander-in-Chief and Chief Security Officer of the Federation. Least you forget Mr President, protection of lives and properties of Nigerians; including my state was one of the cardinal constitutional responsibilities you swore to uphold on May 29, 2015.
Since this carnage and garment of grief fell on my people, the land of Enugu State is no longer the same again. Even the hitherto resting spirits of my ancestors have been rattled by these unprecedented raping of our mothers and sisters, killing of our sinless children and burning of our ancestral homes and places of worship, all by devilish and conscienceless invaders, masquerading as herdsmen.
As son of the soil, with umbilical cord connected to this state, I decided to write this letter to you, with my eyes flood with tears of mourning, not out of cowardice or helplessness but utmost respect to you as my elected president cum father of the nation. I was inspired to tow this constitutional path of reason and honour, to remind you of your celebrated inaugural quote of “I belong to everybody, I belong to nobody”.
All your actions and inactions since your second coming as Nigerian president have contradicted this quote and rendered it a mere political statement. For instance, when Agatu community in Benue State came under siege of rampaging Fulani herdsmen, where over four hundred Agatus were killed in cold blood in their ancestral homes, not even a statement of condolence emanated from you, let alone addressing the nation via national broadcast. But you were quick to threaten pipeline vandals in Niger- Delta with “Boko Haram treatment”. What an irony! In the light of the foregoing context, can you in all sincerity say that you have lived up to this quote? As Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, why did Nigerian security forces fail to stop Fulani herdsmen from attacking a community in Agwu Local Government Area of my state, but were swift to stop the helpless seventy-six farmers from defending their ravaged farmlands, and got them arrested for defending themselves!?
Can I submit to the insinuations that you belong to the Fulanis alone, and not Igbos, Idomas, Yorubas, Ijaws etc especially when juxtaposed with 5%ters and 98%ters votes’ statement credited to you, vis-à-vis lopsided appointments you have made so far in favour of the Hausa/Fulanis? Are you not vindicating those that did not vote for you through your lackadaisical handling of national security treat like atrocities of Fulani herdsmen? Can I put side by side gruesome murder of Nigerians by Fulani herdsmen with controversial Grazing Reserve Bill, which is presently at the National Assembly (an impending law to legitimize invasion of other people’s communities by Fulani herdsmen)?
I want to use this medium to bring to your notice the raging and eruptive anger sweeping across Igbo Nation like wildfire, ever since this unimaginable calamity happened in Enugu State. If nothing serious and urgent is done to curtail this growing wrath in the land, I am afraid reprisal attacks will be more deadly and catastrophic. It will portray Fulani herdsmen attacks as child’s play, if not averted. There is a time when silence is no longer golden. Any injustice done anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, apology to Martin Luther King, Jr.
This is the time to exhibit the spirit of statesmanship by rising above ethnic, political and religious cleavages cum sentiments, to create a nation where peace and justice shall reign. Justice is made for the sake of peace, not the other way around. A man who cannot stand up for something, can fall for anything. Never again will blood and hard-earned wealth of innocent Igbos be used to water Nigeria’s fledging unity.
It is either the herdsmen are called to order by security forces, or my people will resort to the last hope of survival—self-defence, because in a state of lawlessness, lawfulness becomes lawlessness. As stakeholders, we can’t sit idly again and watch our people being decimated, raped, and slaughtered, houses burnt by aliens, while security forces play to the gallery. According to the words of Bishop Desmond Tutu, “If you are neutral in the face of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”. Thanks for your anticipated cooperation. It is the right of every Nigerian to be protected by this government and not a privilege strictly reserved for the Fulanis.