The Awgu Massacre Or The Awgu 76
I apologize for my tardiness in getting to this topic although I have written periodically on the menace of cattle farmers south of Kaduna and all the way to Lagos and Port Harcourt/Calabar.
The most important function of ANY GOVERNMENT is the protection of the lives and property of citizens from both domestic and external forces. A government that is unable to do this does not exist as far as the citizens are concerned. When there is no government the citizens have a right to try to protect themselves to the best of their ability. They should not roll over and play dead. It is clear that Nigerian governments: federal, state and local, have failed to protect many citizens from the menace of some cattlemen. It is time for the citizens to try their best as they have discovered that no government exists to protect them.
Proofs that no government exist is best illustrated by the fact that the menacing herdsmen possess lethal weapons, like AK47, contrary to the laws barring the possession of guns. They carry the weapons openly and use them frequently but no police officer has ever been able to arrest and disarm anyone talk less of bringing them to court. They are above the law. They have been able to forcibly enter the property of other farmers stretching from Obudu to Lokoja and grazing and destroying yams, cassava, crops etc., and if the yam farmers dared say something he pays a huge price like the brave 76 of Greater Awgu.
It is now beyond doubt that the so-called government of President Buhari or that of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and the Chairmen of Greater Awgu Local Governments and their representatives have zero powers or capabilities to get the job done. The next step would be to retreat to the old ways these type of situations were handled. Before the Europeans settled in Yoruba lands the Yoruba had governments and fought off intruders. They need to revisit that way of protecting their nation. Before the EU peoples settled among the Igbo the Igbo also had their way for settling issues of attack by outsiders. Ditto for the Ijaw, the Edo, the Kogi, and all the Benue people, and others. My friend Mr. Maurice Eneh, Egbedaa, had insinuated what he termed “town government”.
Town government as practiced among the Igbo was the truest form of democracy in the world. The citizens gather at the town square and take decisions (no representatives). They may form teams to execute the decision like send an emissary to sue for peace or to declare terms of a war as one can read from Things Fall Apart.” If an invasion does occur the villagers do their best to contain it but when they are unable to contain it their drum beater gets on his IKOLO drum and summons the neighboring towns and villages and before one knew it the entire Igbo land is engaged. It is not any different from what happens in US presently. If fire fighters in one community is unable to contain any fire they summon help from the surrounding communities.
This approach ought to be tried as it was very useful in the fight against Oyibo in their early attempt to colonize the Igbo. Get a copy of the story and life of Margret Ekpo. She employed it in the fight against the Iva Valley (Enugu) shooting of coal miners in Enugu and also against the imposition of taxes on Aba men without representation.
If a herdsman enters into one's farmland without authorization to feed his herd the farmer is entitled to use maximum force to protect his livelihood and he should summon help from neighbors and neighbors and neighbors from Nkanu to Okigwi to Owerri to Ikwere or from Kwara all the way to Epe.
When this happens a few times, believe me, they would get somebody's attention. A wise government would avoid all these ugly things by a very simple enactment of a very simple law: no transportation of cattle except by road trucks or rail rolling stock. A wise state government should ban all cattle on the states streets and roads. And enforce it. When I lived in Lagos not once did I encounter any animals on the streets but I now see pictures of cattle on Lagos streets and I shudder. After over 40 years! How hath the mighty fallen!
The massacre of the 76 in Greater Awgu ought to be the last story on the invasion of southern farms by cattlemen. Is it? Or are there more to come? Will there be 106 in Nkanu? 206 in Okitipupa?
Nigerians have this ability to make the simple difficult like keeping off cows from the streets and making the difficult simple like stealing billions from the treasury.
There was a country.
Written by Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba.