Nimbo massacre: Could arrested but now 'missing' armed Fulani herdsmen be responsible? (1)

By The Citizen

By Amaechi Ugwele
Since the recent attack on Nimbo Community in Enugu by Fulani herdsmen, I have continued to ask this question: Could the 56 armed Fulani herdsmen earlier arrested by the Army in Abuja, apparently on transit from Nasarawa State, whose whereabouts are now subject of controversy between the army and the police, be responsible for the killing of the defenseless people of Nimbo?

Were they, and the other 36 earlier arrested in Keffi, also in Nasarawa State and are still in detention, actually part of a bigger horde that was moving in batches through Abuja to Enugu for the job that just somehow got accomplished? Now see why I ask.

The Army in two separate incidents last week arrested hordes of armed Fulani herdsmen. In the first incident, a group of 36 was arrested at a checkpoint in Keffi and were handed over to the Nasarawa Police Command. The Nasarawa State Police Command through its Spokesman, Ismaila Numan, confirmed on Monday they were with them and had been charged to court for illegal possession of firearms and criminal conspiracy.

The second incident involved 56 herdsmen. The Army claimed, and was still as at Sunday insisting through its Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, Guards Brigade,  Capt. Bashir Jajira, they were handed over to the Police. He stated that the 56 suspects arrested along the Airport Road Abuja were handed over to the Kuje Divisional Police Station. The Army said the suspects had among them one pump action gun, 19 cartridge, dane guns, 188 cartridge ammo, 28 cutlasses, three jack knives, 14 sticks, seven torches,  Certificate of Occupancy, assorted Charms and hard drugs.

However, there is a very big problem; one that may hold the key to the recent massacre at Nimbo. The FCT Police Command has denied ever receiving the second set of suspects the Army had claimed were with them! The Force did this through the Force Public Relations Officer, Bisi Kolawole. She explained that her enquiries around the FCT Police Command could not yield any positive result as to the suspects being with any of its formations.

The questions therefore are these. Where are these 56 dangerous men? The Army, through its Spokesman said they had been dispatched to the Police. The Police through its Force PRO countered they had not received them. The speakers are trained professionals who would not speak without facts.

But both cannot be contradicting themselves and be correct at the same time. So, where are these dangerous men that were by every indication on a war mission, considering all that were recovered from them?

What is the implication of this 'missing' in custody? Did anyone allow them to go and carry out a mission the arrests would have stopped? Consider they were moving in groups from Nasarawa through Abuja when they were intercepted. Where were they going with such cache of arms? Also consider Enugu was in the direction of where they could have been heading. More so 56 of them got missing and shortly after a community in Enugu was attacked and men, women, children were massacred.

Again, if as much as two groups could be arrested, who is sure there were not more that managed to slip through security? This is a very serious situation. This brick bat of claim and counter claim by the Army and the Police is not helpful at all, especially in the face of allegations of complacency, if not alleged support of the killers by the government who had largely done nothing much to help the situation.

This much is based on the uncommon boldness of the herdsmen that has become an unpretentious menace to Nigerians since the advent of this administration. They are spreading more and more, without restraint and bringing with them unparalleled death and destruction to everything on their paths. So far there had not been a word from the President until this latest outrage. He has failed to be moved by the anguish of the victims.

Amaechi Ugwele writes from Enugu.