Enugu Government Rejects Grazing Reserves, Blames Security Agencies Over Nimbo Killings
BEVERLY HILLS, April 30, (THEWILL) – Following last Monday's invasion of Nimbo community in the state by suspected herdsmen, the Enugu State government has toed the line of the Oyo State government by rejecting the creation of Federal Grazing Reserves across the country.
This was as Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu declared that security agencies owed Nigerians explanation over the attack in his state that left about 46 persons dead, revealing that he had received assurances that the security agencies were on ground to forestall any attack happening in that community.
The Oyo State governor, Abiola Ajimobi, had earlier warned against any proposal to seize or allocate land across Nigeria for use as grazing reserves, asserting that such plan would be ill-advised and against the spirit of overriding public interest. He was categorical that it would not be allowed in Oyo State.
The Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Mrs Cecilia Ezeilo took the same position on Friday while presenting the government's position on the incident to the Defence Headquarters Committee on Persistent Clashes between Herdsmen and Farmers in Nigeria.
The committee led by Maj.-Gen. Edward Nze was in the state on the mandate of the chief of defence staff to find a lasting solution to menace of herdsmen in the country.
Rather than creating grazing reserves, Ezeilo recommended that the Federal Government should create ranches to reduce the clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
In the document, the state government called for immediate disarmament of the herdsmen across the country and a proper screening by the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, to repatriate the aliens among them.
The document, which was signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Gabriel Ajah, also noted that in discussions with herdsmen, they accused the Shua Arabs headed by one Ahmed Adamu who was included in a peace committee as a major culprit in the security challenges.
“There should be immediate disarmament of the herdsmen across the country, as they carry sophisticated weapons such as AK-47.
“Adequate measures should be taken to ensure proper policing of the country's borders to check the influx of irregular aliens and security men equipped to face challenges,” it stated.
The state government called for a proper investigation into the circumstances that surrounded the invasion of the community where scores of residents were killed and compensations paid.
“Having spent enormous resources in the construction of a heliport for the Nigeria Police Force in Enugu, the state government calls for effective use of the facility with regard to fighting crime.
“Network providers should be made to provide network services to rural communities to enable security experts perform maximally and to share information among the citizenry,” it stated.
Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the Nimbo carnage, Governor Ugwuanyi addressed people of the State on Friday, where he declared that security agencies owed Nigerians explanation over the unfortunate incident.
He spoke at the Government House in a solemn session attended by the Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, other senators and members of the House of Representatives from the State, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Eugene Odo, among others.
His speech reads in full:
My Dear People of Enugu State,
Four days ago on Monday April 25, 2016 many of our brothers and sisters in Nimbo in Uzo Uwani Local Government Area of the state were murdered in cold blood by suspected Fulani herdsmen who have been grazing their cattle in that area for a while now.
May their souls rest in peace. Amen.
On Sunday, April 24, 2016, by 7 pm, the night before this carnage took place, I got security information from Uzo-Uwani Local Government Transition Chairman, Hon. Cornell Onwubuya that such an incident was likely to take place in the state.
I immediately summoned a meeting of the State Security Council which commenced by 10 pm.
The meeting was attended by the following:
1. Garrison Commander Brigadier General Olufemi Akinjobi who normally represents the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division Nigerian Army
2. The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Nwodibo Ekechukwu
3. The State Director of Department State Security Services (DSS), Mr. M. Abdul Malik
4. The State Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Mr. Lar Stephen
5. Representatives of the Nigerian Air force, Federal Road Safety Corps and Nigerian Prison Services, who attended as observers.
From the side of government were, myself, the Governor, the Deputy Governor, the Secretary to the State Government, the Chief of Staff, the Chairman, State Traditional Rulers Council and the Honourable Attorney General of the State.
In the meeting, we received assurances from the Commissioner of Police that the Area Commander of SARS was on ground in Nimbo.
-That the Anti-Terrorism Unit was at Nimbo
-That he was in contact with the Kogi State Commissioner of Police and reported suspected herdsmen grouping at Odolu in Kogi State preparatory for an attack on Nimbo and Abbi communities
-That Police mobile force and conventional police were already drafted to Nimbo and Abbi communities.
-That he was in touch with the Area Commander, Idah, ACP Ikegwuonwu and had linked him with the Area Commander, Nsukka, ACPMonday Kuryas.
Both men according to the CP reported that there were no traces of suspected herdsmen in Nsukka or Idah.
-That he ordered the Area Commander, Nsukka to redeploy to Nimbo.
-That the Garrison Commander on his part assured the meeting that Military was already deployed to Nimbo.
Let me state that the State Government provided logistics for these deployments.
After receiving these assurances of deployments to Nimbo, I felt quite confident that we had done everything possible to forestall an attack on Nimbo. I have deliberately narrated what transpired at the Security Council meeting fully conscious of the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution pertaining to my oath of office. I am doing this in due discharge of my duties as Governor.
Sadly, in the early hours of Monday reports of this carnage reached me. More disturbing was the report that the attack of innocent and defenceless citizens were carried out at about 6 30 am.
Further reports available to me indicate that apart from the killing and maiming of innocent and defenceless citizens of Nimbo a Church was also burnt. Following this development, I engaged the security agencies in order to ensure that the Nimbo area was secured from further attacks that might escalate the situation.
On Tuesday, April 26, 2016, I visited Nimbo in order to establish firsthand the extent of carnage. My visit to Nimbo was revealing. I came face to face with the wounded and bereaved. I saw burnt and damaged personage of Christ Holy Church. I saw a traumatized community in shock and despair. I saw a dead body. I wept. I wondered what has become of our quest for a united, peaceful and prosperous nation. Our first national anthem had a phrase which went thus: “though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand.”
Only two weeks ago we gave a posthumous award to Alhaji Umaru Altine, a Katsina born Muslim who was elected mayor of Enugu before the Civil War, in the period that Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was leader of the NCNC.
Now in less than three months, violent clashes have occurred in Enugu State in Awgu, Nike, Abbi and Nimbo between suspected Fulani Herdsmen and our people.
This situation cannot be allowed to continue.
For this reason, I sought audience with His Excellency, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Our discussions were frank and cordial.
I am very grateful to the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari for his prompt and decisive reaction to the incident in Nimbo. The President came out with a clear and unmistakable condemnation of this dastardly act and gave clear and definite directives to the security agencies to fish out these criminals and bring them to justice.
I have called you today not just to brief you on what has happened so far but to discuss in depth with you on what we must all do to prevent the occurrence of such incidents in the future.
So long as we are Nigerians, we cannot live in isolation but those who come to Enugu must respect out values and not engage in such dastardly act as we have witnessed recently.
I am at once, constituting a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the immediate and remote causes of all the violent occurrences in the State associated with suspected Fulani Herdsmen and recommend appropriate measures that will be put in place to prevent future occurrence.
What happened between 6.30am and 7.30 am on Monday 25th April, 2016 despite assurances from the Security Agencies? Only the Security Agencies can answer this question.
Finally, all security agencies in the State are hereby directed to continue to ensure that lives and property of the people of the State and all its residents are protected.
Thank you and God bless you.
Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi