Herdsmen attacks: Okogie, Iwuanyanwu, MASSOB spit fire

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Herdsmen attacks: Okogie, Iwuanyanwu, MASSOB spit fire

Herdsmen attacks: Okogie, Iwuanyanwu, MASSOB spit fire
April 30
01:24 2016

Tension remained high across the land yesterday in the aftermath of recurring murder of innocent citizens by suspected herdsmen, particularly Monday’s invasion of Nimbo in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State.

At least 20 people were killed during the invasion.

Although the army has deployed troops in Enugu and Kogi states in response to the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari that the culprits be fished out and prosecuted accordingly, many Nigerians said yesterday that the federal government was tardy in its handling of the menace.

Retired Catholic Archbishop of Lagos State, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, asked President Buhari to arrest the situation before it gets out of hand whileIgbo leader and publisher of Champion newspaper, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, called the Nimbo attack a humiliation of the Igbo.

“The greatest humiliation you can give to an Igbo man is to attack him in his home. That is come to his home, kill his wife, his children and destroy his house,” Iwuanyanwu said.

Goddy Uwazurike, president of Aka Ikenga, an Igbo think-tank organization, deplored what he termed “Federal Government’s nonchalant attitude to the issue.”

The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohaneze, has summoned an emergency meeting for tomorrow in Enugu to discuss the matter.

Okogie, speaking on the phone yesterday, said: “President Buhari should do something fast about it. If he fails to act fast, it may lead to a situation where the people will be forced to use everything they have to defend themselves.

“Do you expect the people of Enugu to fold their hands after the attack and wait for another attack? When this kind of thing begins to happen, you risk having civil war in the country.

“As a Fulani man, Buhari should talk to his people. The sheep understand the voice of the shepherd. It is important to know where the herdsmen are getting sophisticated weapons from.

“If you check it very well, you will find that they are now everywhere. Even in some places where there is no single grass, you still find them.

“This is not the kind of change we voted for. How long would we continue to have this kind of lawlessness in our hands?

The President of Aka Ikenga, Goddy Uwazurike, said: “The Federal Government’s nonchalant attitude to the issue aggravated it. Its silence spoke volume. It shows that something is wrong.

“I am surprised that the Department of State Security (DSS) is not taking proactive action. The Southeast is waiting for the Federal Government to do something about it.

“If they fail, we would have to defend ourselves. A man who has enemies around his house does not go to bed with his two eyes closed.”

Iwuanyanwu, in his reaction to the mayhem, said: “We are worried that this matter is going to create serious trouble in this country. And I want to tell you today that the greatest challenge to the peace and unity of this country is the activities of the herdsmen.”

He was shocked that no single arrest had been made in respect of the Nimbo attack.

“I am astonished how somebody can carry his cattle to a person’s farm and destroy his crops; not only that they have come to a point where they rape women—married women, old women.

“The incident in Enugu was pathetic. It was an invasion.

“No one has given the accurate number of persons that were killed, and I learnt that the perpetrators have all escaped.

“What bothers me is that for so many years, nobody has heard about this.

“Some years ago, one could hear incidents of cattle straying into a farm and maybe damaging some crops and this could be settled amicably. But today, the new group that come are armed with automatic weapons and they kill people with impunity.

“In this country, no one has the authority to carry automatic weapons but these people parade the country with such weapons.

“I am aware that the President has directed the security agencies to fish out these people. But it has gotten to a point where farmers in Igbo land and other parts of the country are afraid to go to the farm because there is no way you can get enough policemen to garrison every farmland against these herdsmen.

“The implication is that food shortage may hit the country.

“Another thing is that the possibility of collaboration between this group and Boko Haram cannot be ruled out and so the victims of the cattle rearers’ attack should be treated with similar attention like the victims of Boko Haram.

“So whatever support the government is given in the Northeast, they should give in the Southeast.

“All of us must raise our voice against this evil because it could be worse that Boko Haram.”

The renowned politician however appealed to Igbo youths not to take reprisal action, adding that such action will jeopardise the lives of the Igbo living in other parts of the country.

Bemoaning the predicament of Agatu people of Benue State, Comrade Aluh Moses Odeh, national leader All Middle Belt Forum, (AMBYF), condemned any attempt by security and government officials to present the attackers as foreigners, saying: “Our people have always been victims of these herdsmen and we would not take it anymore.

“We say no to a situation where some people will continue to destroy our farmlands and means of survival with impunity. If the government cannot defend us, we would defend ourselves.

“The argument that the perpetrators are foreigners is false. They are Fulani herdsmen who move their cows about. It is even an indictment on our security operatives for anybody to use that as a defence. It shows that our security operatives are not alive to their responsibilities.

“But the truth is that those guys are not foreigners and neither are they Boko Haram members.

“It is an insult on the sensibility of our people for government officials to be using all these as excuses for their shortcomings.

“We are supposed to be engaging in serious farming now but that is not possible. This would certainly have serious effect on availability of food for our people very soon.”

Mazi Uchenna Madu, a factional leader of Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) said: “Even some Igbo groups are busy counting the casualties and how the Federal Government and security agents abandoned our people.

“That era has gone, and until Ndigbo get actively involved in protecting and defending Igbo people, interest and future, Hausa/Fulani herdsmen will continue to harass, intimidate, invade and cause more pogroms against our people. Ndigbo should hold their governors responsible for any invasion of our land.”

Chief Ladi Williams, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), told the Federal Government to adopt a hard line decision on the situation.

He said: “The government has to take a tough position on the development because it has the potential of destabilising the country. The people are seeing them not as miscreants but as a group that has stepped into the shoes of Boko Haram and it is only the Federal Government that can handle the situation before it threatens the unity of the country.

“The courts are not appropriate for this purpose. Court is time wasting. The president should summon the various service chiefs and nip the problem in the bud.

The youth wing of the Arewa Consultative Forum also condemned the activities of the herdsmen.

In a telephone chat with The Nation, the president of the group, Comrade Shetima Yerima said:: “We are opposed to it. We condemn it in all totality because we are not in a banana republic. Whatever is their grouse should be made public.”

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