By Sunday Onyemaechi Eze
The sleepy agrarian village of Nimbo community in Uzo Uwani Local government Area of Enugu state is the latest victim of the barbarism currently exhibited by Fulani herdsmen. A well-orchestrated early morning attack claimed over 20 lives and rendered many homeless. Many residents of neighbouring communities of Nkpologu, Uvuru, Ugbene – Ajima and Adani have all fled their homes for safety. Tension is rising in Adani and Iggah communities as there are rumours of impending attacks.
The onslaught of Fulani herdsmen has been tolerated for so long a time to the extent that one wonders whether killing to them has become a hobby of some sort. The list of communities attacked and lives lost are sad reminders of failed intelligence gathering and weak security apparatus. The height of crass impunity, brutality with which the herdsmen display brazen violence on agrarian communities has become a source of concern to everybody and most importantly a threat to national security and unity of Nigeria. That people no longer sleep with two eyes closed for fear of these itinerant marauders is to say the obvious. This is an issue of urgent national importance which must be contained before it gets out of control or even escalates into tribal wars.
Chapter 2, Section, 14 (1) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) states that “the security and welfare of the people of Nigeria shall be the primary purpose of government.” The unity of Nigeria cannot be guaranteed when government and the security agencies whose jobs are to protect lives and properties look the other way when lives are deliberately snuffed out of citizens or are complicit in the matter entirely. There was prior knowledge and reliable information of the impending doom.
Enugu state Security Council meeting chaired by governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was held where heads of security agencies promised foiling the attack. As usual the security agencies were lackadaisical, unprepared and even slept off while the enemy took advantage of this lacuna to unleash mayhem on defenceless citizens. This has been the operational pattern of the security agencies even in Abbi, Agatu and other affected agrarian communities. In fact something is fishy and must be thoroughly investigated. How come that despite early warnings, the police and the military failed to deploy personnel promptly to save lives?
The debilitated mood of the Local government was captured by Stella Ottis Chijioke-Asogwa, a youth leader thus “some of the tales only told by moonlight are currently manifesting in broad daylight. Fulani invasion was a tale from a distant land, no, no not in my beloved Nkpologu, Nimbo or any neighbouring town. This marriage has since gone sour. Why stay in a marriage that was doomed right from the altar of consummation? The man is free to go his way so is the woman. We were never meant to be together. We kept excusing their misdeeds, we tolerated them, and we bore the pain, hoping the injuries would go. How can this deep cut heal quickly? We will carry it to our graves. But before we all die, our children would look us in the face, lifting their tiny fingers to feel the scares on our bodies and suddenly, they will ask innocently who did this to you.
May our ancestors not turn in their graves and weep on our behalf. Cry my beloved communities, eka akpari Nkpologu, Uvuru, Ugbene-Ajima and indeed the entire Uzo-Uwani LGA. In fact, we are paying the price of undue hospitality. Is it time to say farewell?”
When people are pushed to the wall, the only option left is to resort to self-help. One can only imagine the magnitude of the disastrous outcome when this becomes the only available defensive alternative. We are getting closer to this stage or point of no return. It is a crime to kill fellow human beings and no human being worths being slaughtered for any ludicrous reason. Therefore, the government should act fast and now to put an end to this impunity not only in Nimbo but as it affects the entire nation. We must all rise against this heinous crime before the bubble bursts. Whatever it takes to stem the horrendous tide of this common evil, we all must apply. “If you keep quiet because Fulani herdsmen are not killing your family, by the time it gets to your turn, there may be no one to talk for you.” – Reno Omokri.
President Muhammadu Buhari has not clearly in words and actions convinced Nigerians and the attacked communities of government’s determination to end this menace once and for all. As usual he has ordered the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase and other security agencies to unravel the mystery behind constant attacks of communities by herdsmen, arrest, thoroughly investigate and prosecute culprits. The Senate has also set up a six man committee headed to investigate the attack. These attempts by the Presidency and the National Assembly were unsatisfactory. They were the same old unfruitful approaches to conflict management. They lack the needed potency and political will to produce the desired results and lasting solution as they have flopped time without number.
•Eze writes via [email protected]