By Our reporters
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari yesterday broke his studied silence on the recurring attacks on communities by alleged Fulani herdsmen as he said a decisive step has been taken by his administration to end it. To achieve that, he disclosed that he directed the Minister of Defence and the Inspector General of Police to put an end to the menace.
In line with the presidential directive, the military has taken over the security of lives and property in Nimbo. This was even as the General Officer Commanding 82, division Nigerian Army Enugu, Major-General Ibrahim Attahiru has visited the community.
While condemning Monday’s attack on Nimbo community in Uzo Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State that claimed several lives, Buhari who spoke through the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, described the attack and killing of innocent people as unacceptable.
“…Let me use this platform to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the attack perpetrated on the Ukpabu Nimbo community in Uzo-Uwani area of Enugu State on Monday. I deeply sympathise with all those who lost dear ones, as well as those who lost their properties, in the attack.
“I have directed the Chief of Defence Staff and the Inspector-General of Police to secure all communities under attacks by herdsmen, and to go after all the groups terrorizing innocent people all over the country. This government will not allow these attacks to continue. These attacks will not continue.”
President Buhari who spoke at the presentation of a book written by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu in Abuja sued for understanding among Nigerians, pledging that his administration will not fail in its promise of enthroning a positive change in the country.
Also reacting, former head of state, Gen Yakubu Gowon (rtd) charged Nigerians not to lose faith in the country as a result of the killings and attacks by herdsmen. He called on Nigerians to join forces with the government to fix all security challenges.
Attahiru, in an interview with Daily Sun, said already, a detachment of soldiers led by an officer in the rank of a Captain, are already on ground to restore peace in the village.
The GOC, who said he also visited the village head to reassure him of the military protection from external invasion, said the soldiers would remain in the village until total peace was restored.
He called on those taking refuge in other safe places to return to the village and carry on with their legitimate business as the military would do everything possible to protect them from being attacked.
When Daily Sun, visited the village, a team of soldiers in about six patrol van were spotted.
As angry reactions continue to trail the gruesome attack, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, Senator Uche Ekwunife, the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Ndigbo Unity Forum (NUF), the Ijaw Youths Council and the Igbo Youths Consultative Forum (IYCF) have tasked the President and the security agencies to act decisively before the situation spins out of control.
“What happened in Nimbo was a national calamity, it was an act of barbarism,” Umahi said.
On her part, Senator Ekwunife called on Buhari to immediately stem further killings and ensure the perpetrators are arrested and brought to book.
This is even as teachers and pupils in neighbouring communities in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area, yesterday fled their schools, following unconfirmed reports that the herdsmen were regrouping for a renewed attack.
Students of Community Secondary School, Abbi Ugbene, took to their heels, thereby disrupting the ongoing Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) by SS3 students.
An eyewitness told Daily Sun that there was also stampede in public primary schools in Ugbene Ajima, located about eight kilometers from Nimbo, when pupils hurriedly packed their school bags and dashed out of their classrooms.
A retired teacher, Richard Eze, said other public schools also shut down for fear of attack by the herdsmen. The affected schools, include Central School Ugbene Ajima, Central School, Abbi, Oriental Primary School, Akibite and Hilltop Primary School and Ajona Ugwu.
The traditional ruler of Ugbene Ajima, Igwe Bartholomew Aluma, urged the state and federal governments to beef up security within the neighbouring communities.
Also speaking, former Director of Social Communication, Catholic Diocese of Nsukka, Rev. Fr. Paulinus Ike Ogara, who said he saw the ominous sign in 2001, and repeatedly warned of the danger posed by the Fulani herdsmen pleaded with the government to beef up security around schools in the communities to douse fears of renewed attack.
Following his visit to Ukpabi Nimbo community yesterday, Governor Ugwuanyi summoned an emergency meeting with the traditional rulers, presidents-general of town unions and leaders of the neighborhood watch in all the communities in the state.
A reliable source disclosed that the meeting slated for Monday, May 2, 2016 at old Governor’s lodge, Enugu at 1pm is expected to map out the best strategies that would promote peace and end the attacks from the herdsmen.
The NUF in a statement by its President, Augustine Chukwudum condemned the alleged silence of President Buhari.
But, the South-East leadership caucus of the APC in a statement signed by its spokesman, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, urged the people of Nimbo to take solace in the determination of Buhari to fish out those arming the herdsmen with sophisticated weapons.
Also reacting, the IYC in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Comrade Eric Omare warned indigenes of Niger Delta communities to be vigilante and set up structures to prevent and respond to any attack in the region.
It alleged plot to provoke crisis in the country even as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) said it will not retaliate the murder of people of Nimbo by the Fulani herdsmen.
The group in a statement by the Media and Publicity Secretary of IPOB Mr. Emma Powerful said it was not in its character to avenge evil for evil promising to remain a peace loving and focused.