A Media Statement By The Foremost And Leading Civil Rights Advocacy Group; Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA) In Reaction To The Reported Recent Attack By Suspected Armed Fulani Herdsmen On A Farm Settlement In Uzo-Uwani Local Government Council Of Enugu State.
The recent Sunday night’s attack on a farm settlement by suspected Fulani Herders on a farm settlement in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Council of Enugu State resulting the gruesome deaths of many innocent Igbo farmers, as reported, has given impression that the destruction of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) by President Muhammadu Buhari supported by the likes of the Imo State governor Mr. Hope Uzodinma and the ‘fake’ setting up of the Ebubeagu Security Network by the increasingly ethically weak governors of South East of Nigeria was a systematic plot to expose the south east to Fulani herders attacks. The genocide which was halted by the emergence of the fiercest vigilante organisation in the South East of Nigeria known as Eastern Security Network has now restarted after the Federal government in collusion with the South East governors have bombed the Eastern Security Network out of string existential position to confront and defeat any deadly incursions by armed Fulani terrorists into the Igbo heartland.
It is more worrisome that this incident in Enugu and that of Ebonyi State in which over 50 lives of Igbo villagers were lost are coming few months after the orchestrated attacks on the ESN camps across the south eastern states, which recorded killings of its members made up of youths who decided that they can no longer trust the political leadership in the south east since most them are not even living in the south east and so neither do they have any commitment nor care about the south east unlike their counterparts from the south west who took the gauntlet by setting up their own south west vigilante that is working known as AMOTEKUN.
It would be recalled that since the Eastern SECURITY Network (ESN) came into existence in December 2020, as a reaction to the Igbo’s perception that they are targeted by Muslim Fulani herders, whom they accuse of grazing on farmlands and committing crimes against local residents, there have been little or no reported incidents of attacks in the region.
Record has it that prior to the advent of the ESN, the destructive activities of rogue herdsmen on farms in communities in the south east were worrisome and frightening. They, with hordes of cattle invaded farmlands with reckless abandon, making a mess of the crops which the poor village farmers toiled to put in place. Sadly, in most cases, these killer herdsmen even violently attack and kill the farmers if they have the gut to question them.
These evil activities took place in all parts of the South East: from Abia to Imo; from Anambra to Enugu and Ebonyi. The people were crying especially in the face of the emphasis the Federal Government places on agriculture. None of the herdsmen were reported to have been arrested and tried by the law enforcement agencies. Yet, the evil acts continued unabated.
This matter has been of great concern to HURIWA as a media affiliated Civil Rights body, and we have followed lamentations and reports of what the rural farmers went through before the advent of the embattled ESN.
We cried out when Ozuitem community in Bende area of Abia State was invaded and attacked by the herdsmen and nobody did anything. People were slaughtered and properties destroyed. A month later, another community in the same Abia State, Ndi Okereke Abam in Arochukwu council, was equally attacked by the herdsmen. Nothing was done.
In early hours of April 6, 2019, the herdsmen attacked farmers’ settlement in Anambra West Council of Anambra State. They set the farm houses ablaze, killed the men and raped the women they captured, yet nobody came to their rescue.
Could the youths had kept beating about the bush while their people were being taking to slaughter houses day after day? What about the dastardly attack on Umuawa-Ibu community in Okigwe council area of Imo State. In all these cases, HURIWA cried to high heavens, petitioned here and there, and complained everywhere, yet the authorities never cared.
In Enugu, on June 14, 2019, the same herdsmen attacked a commercial bus carrying traders, mainly women returning from the market along Agbani-Ugbawka road in Nkanu East council area and abducted three young women after they had robbed the traders. The internal outcry over these atrocities became deafening. Reportedly also, these herdsmen also butchered a whole family and a Catholic seminarian on apostolic work in Nkanu.
The story is the same in Ebonyi and Imo States. In Imo State, armed Fulani herders reportedly unleashed terror in Oguta, Ohaji-Egbema and Orlu as well as other parts of Igbo land. The killing of Ozoemena Iriaka from Umuekpu in Agwa community in the same Oguta council area was added to the list of casualties of these murderous herdsmen.
For almost a decade, people of south east endured the agony of murder, rape and molestation in the hands of killer herdsmen; a minority group that appears to be ‘sacred cows’ because they control all state apparatus and hence are unleashing violence on the people.
Even, the international community has rated these herdsmen as the fourth deadliest terror group in the world, yet the Nigerian authorities kept mum. Despite these atrocious acts, the authorities looked the other way, may be, to create the scenario that elicited the criminalization and annihilation of the only vigilante (ESN) that is working to stop the killing of farmers in the south east by branding them outlaws.
Undoubtedly, recent happenings have revealed that the destruction of ESN was not just a coincidence but a systematic, well planned plot in getting the south east exposed so that these armed herders can go in and attack just as they did on Sunday night in Enugu state as reported by major News platforms across the country.
Furthermore, compared to the Eastern Security Network, we wish to state that the Ebubeagu Security Network of the South-East Governors has failed in its entirety to address the security challenges in the Southeast zone rather has compromised the security of the Igbo Nation States.
Observably, from the realities on the ground, the Ebubeagu Security Network only exists on the pages of newspapers as their operatives and operations cannot be found in any community of the south eastern states.
Unlike their counterparts from the West who have made effort to combat terrorism in their territory through Amotekun, we wonder why governors of the Southeast have allowed themselves to become fragmented for fear of displeasing their masters. Unfortunately too, some of the Igbo political leaders have allowed themselves to be cajoled and intimidated to the point where they now deny their own identity.
Undoubtedly, the unending assault on the country’s grundnorm by the institution which has the onus to promote and protect it, has rendered Nigeria as a lawless state. Any national or state government that fails to protect its people through national security apparatus has created a lacuna for the latter to seek self-defense as an alternative to reliance on government security outfit.
Besides self-preservation, any interest groups or individuals could exploit the absence of law and order in a country to promote their goals. Whether the ESN was purposely launched as an instrumentality to further actualize a long-term agitation for Biafra Republic as being alleged is another discourse. What is visible to the blind and audible to the deaf is the state of anarchy in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s government could tackle the general insecurity menace through the establishment of state police. Likewise, the enactment and enforcement of the Forestry Laws in every state in tandem with the peculiarity of their geographical features to curb forestry offenses and regulate farmers and herders face-off.
Terrorism/insecurity is a global menace. It takes an ethnic colouration in Nigeria due to the existing fragile state of the federation and the present government’s failure to keep the country as one entity beyond forceful cohesion mechanism.
Therefore, government must create a feeling of belonging among the various people of the federation through its policy. With this, every challenge would take a national outlook with a common way forward. SOUTH EAST GOVERNORS MUST BE PUT UNDER SOCIAL PRESSURE BY THE GOOD PEOPLE OF SOUTH EAST TO PROTECT THEM OR ALLOW THE PEOOLE BEAR LAWFUL ARMS TO PROTECT THEMSEKCES AND THEIR ANCESYRAL LANDS. SELF DEFENCE IS UNIVERSAL HUMAN RIGHT.
COMRADE EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO:
HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).
JULY 27TH 2021.