President Muhammadu Buhari late Monday night in Abuja ordered security agencies in the country to deal decisively and expeditiously with armed Fulani herdsmen attacking communities across the country. The presidential directive is coming against the backdrop of reports of continued attacks and wreaking of havoc on communities across the country by armed herdsmen.
The latest attacks by the herdsmen were recorded in Agatu and Ukpabi Nimbo in Benue and Enugu states respectively where scores of villagers fell to their superior fire power. Buhari who spoke at a meeting with members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), emphasized that heads of national security agencies had been ordered to take all necessary action to apprehend and expose those behind the heinous attacks.
“We are determined to secure all Nigerians and I have told the InspectorGeneral of Police and other security agencies, in very strong terms, to deal decisively with the attackers,” the President said. President Buhari expressed his condolences to the Catholic Bishop of Enugu, the people of Ukpabi Nimbo and all other communities that had suffered fatalities and other losses from the recent attacks. Buhari’s remarks came a few hours before governors under the auspices of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) assured the people of Enugu state that the Nimbo killings would mark the end of herdsmen criminality in the country.
This was even as no fewer than 300 students from the Federation of Association of Nsukka Students (FANS) and the South-East Students Association on Tuesday in Nsukka staged a protest in condemnation last week’s killings in Nimbo, Enugu State, by alleged herdsmen, just as Nigerians resident in the city of London, United Kingdom also on Tuesday took to the streets to protest the continual attacks on innocent Nigerians by Fulani herdsmen. Speaking further, the President assured the Bishops that he was acting methodically to implement his change agenda for the good of the country. “We need to rebuild our institutions methodically, we need to change the way we do things. “In the last 10 years, crude oil sold for more than $100 per barrel, but Nigeria did not save.
That is why we have found ourselves where we are today,” President Buhari told the Catholic Bishops, led by Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, the Archbishop of Jos. Buhari assured the clerics that his administration was working very hard to fulfill all the promises it had made to Nigerians, adding that his greatest motivating factor now was the desire to bring positive change to Nigeria. Speaking on behalf of the delegation, Most Rev. Kaigama expressed the solidarity and support of the CBCN with the President. “We are willing to collaborate with you and with your administration, in which we see hope for a greater Nigeria,” he told the President.
The bishops pledged continued prayers for Nigeria and the government, expressing their conviction that current hardships were temporary, and Nigeria would soon overcome its present difficulties. Speaking with State House Correspondents after the closed door discussion, Kaigama who is also the Catholic Archbishop of Jos, said the group presented a publication on corruption to the president. “This is a book I just presented to Mr President. Since 1960 the Nigerian Catholic Bishops have been talking against corruption and telling people to avoid it.
“It is a cancer, it is dangerous and it is a social disease. So we have compiled this to assure Mr President that we are 100 per cent with him in the fight against corruption. “And with corruption we cannot progress, with corruption everything goes wrong, immorality takes over, retrogression instead of progression takes place. “So, corruption is a huge obstacle that has to be dismantled,’’ he said.
The APC Governors were led to Enugu state by their chairman, Owelle Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum, Kashim Shettima. The APC governors, in an addressed delivered by Governor Okorocha to Enugu State stakeholders at the Government House, said the delegation was in the State to re-assure the residents that they were greatly touched by the incident. According to Okorocha, “we are here because of the ugly incident that took place in Enugu State. Death is death but the most painful is the one that is man-made, most unexpected.
“This nation is one, irrespective of political affiliation; you (Governor Ugwuanyi) are in PDP; we are in APC, but in death, there is no party. “We have come to sympathize with you on this moment of grief and great loss and to assure Nigerians that Nimbo killings would mark the end of such criminality in the country.” He equally commended Governor Ugwuanyi “for the maturity with which he has handled the situation; it would have degenerated to something else if the people had retaliated.”
Okorocha added that “we see this as an act of criminality; a crime is a crime no matter where it was committed. We hereby condemn this criminal activity in its entirety. “We shall join hands with the Federal Government to make sure that this is the last in our country. “We must emphasize the unity of Nigeria; that is why we are here; all the APC governors would have been here but they decided to send representatives. “We are with you in spirit and I want to inform all the people of the South-East that this matter is being handled and very soon, the culprits will be brought to book.”
In his speech, Governor Shettima, who likened the trauma being faced by Nimbo people and indeed the entire Enugu State to that of victims of Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State, lauded the people of Enugu State over their conduct in the face of such provocation.
He said, “In this kind of situation, it is easy to play to the gallery; it is easier to call for revenge, but Enugu people remained calm. “We have to find these killers who should be treated as criminals; they are criminals; they need to be treated as such. “The Igbos are very industrious, very accommodating, very enterprising we must build this nation together; we must build this nation as brothers.”
In his reaction, Governor Ugwuanyi, who commended President Muhammadu Buhari as well as the governors over their concern, expressed hope that the commission of inquiry set up by the state “will lay all the relevant facts on the table and help bring justice to all concerned.” He added that “we are already taking concrete measures to step up security in Enugu State especially through the reactivation and revitalization of neighbourhood watch associations in every community in the State.
“This is geared towards ensuring a holistic and concerted approach to security challenges in the state with all communities and relevant organizations being fully involved.” Other Governors on the visit included Badaru Abubakar, Jigawa; Rauf Aregbesola, Osun; as well as deputy governors of Kogi and Yobe States.
The students, who marched through the major roads in Nsukka town, carried placards various inscriptions such as “We don’t want Fulani herdsmen in the SouthEast again” and “Federal Government should disarm herdsmen and call them to order”.
Others read “If herdsmen kill all our parents, brothers and sisters who will feed and pay our school fees;’’ “We say no to any other killing in the South-East;” Students say no to the grazing bill; “Fulani herdsmen: enough is enough”. Speaking with newsmen, the National President of FANS, Hilary Omeke, said that the students decided to carry out the protest because of numerous atrocities allegedly perpetrated by herdsmen.
Also speaking, Kenneth Odo, the President of FANS, University of Nigeria, Nsukka chapter, said they were wearing black to mourn people killed in Nimbo. Odo said “As result of these incessant attacks, some of our colleagues whose parents are affected in the killings have dropped out from school. “Injury to one is injury to all; herdsmen should either live in the place peacefully or leave South-East completely,” he said. The protesters who are in their hundreds were sighted in front of the British embassy, and had Nigeria’s flags and placards with different inscriptions. Some of the placards read: ”Silence kills”, ”Buhari stop the massacre”, ”Keep off our lands” while some of them displayed pictures of victims of herdsmen attack.