- To meet Ugwuanyi as fear grips another Enugu community over fresh invasion
- Two cobblers reportedly injured in reprisal
Tobi Soniyi, Omololu Ogunmade, Adebiyi Adedapo in Abuja and Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
Following the outrage that followed the attack on the Ukpabi Nimbo community in Enugu State on Monday leading to the deaths of scores of people, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday finally broke his silence on the rising waves of attacks by unknown cattle rearers in different parts of the country.
He ordered the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mr. Solomon Arase, Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, and the Department of State Services (DSS) to fish out the herdsmen who terrorise and kill innocent Nigerians.
Buhari spoke on the directive to the security chiefs as the special guest of honour at the launch of a book, “Who Will Love My Country: Ideas for Building the Nigeria of Our Dreams”, written by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja.
Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, condemned the senseless killings by the herdsmen in the strongest terms and expressed sympathy for those who lost their loved ones and property in the wicked acts.
The president, who further said he had asked the security chiefs to secure communities terrorised by the herdsmen, warned that his government would not fold its arms and allow the cruel acts to continue.
“Let me start by condemning in the strongest terms the attacks by herdsmen in Enugu State on Monday. I deeply sympathise with those who lost their lives as well as those who lost their property.
“I have directed the Chief of Army Staff and the Inspector General of Police to secure all communities under attacks by herdsmen and to go after the groups terrorising innocent people all over the country. This government will not allow these attacks to continue,” he said.
Also a statement by the president’s spokesman, Mr. Garba Shehu, said Buhari unreservedly condemned the attack on the Ukpabi Nimbo community and other such acts of extreme violence against communities in other states of the Federation.
The statement from the presidency said ending the recent upsurge of attacks on communities by herdsmen reportedly armed with sophisticated weapons was now a priority of the Buhari administration’s agenda for enhanced national security and the Armed Forces, adding that the police have clear instructions to take all necessary actions to stop the carnage.
“Acting on the president’s directive, the Inspector General of Police and heads of the nation’s other security agencies are already taking urgent steps to fully investigate the attacks, apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to justice,” it added.
The president assured all Nigerians, once again, of his administration’s continued commitment to ensuring the safety of lives and property in all parts of the country.
The statement added that in keeping with the president’s directive, the IG, the General Officer Commanding the 82nd Division of the Nigerian Army and the Director of the DSS in Enugu State had visited Ukpabi Nimbo to personally oversee investigations into the attack on the community and ongoing efforts to apprehend the culprits.
It further revealed that Buhari was scheduled to meet with Enugu State Governor, Mr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, wednesday to receive further briefing on the attack on Ukpabi Nimbo and discuss additional measures to forestall similar attacks and restore public confidence.
The president urged all Nigerians to remain calm and gave the assurance of his administration’s readiness to deploy all required personnel and resources to remove this new threat to the collective security of the nation.
At the book launch, Buhari commended Ekweremadu for taking time out of his busy schedule to write a book about governance in Nigeria and called for an attitudinal change by public officers, saying anyone who loves his country would shun corruption and impunity.
The president stated that Nigerians could only secure the Nigeria of their dreams if they placed the nation’s interest above their individual interests.
He said the 2016 budget was designed to bring Nigerians out of poverty, improve their standard of living and put smiles on their faces.
He added: “The N500 billion social intervention fund is designed to, among others, create jobs for 500,000 unemployed graduates; provide loans for one million Nigerians, including market men and women, as well as for artisans to start their businesses.
“It also includes feeding of 4.5 million students in schools. Nigerians can only have and live in the country of their dreams by shunning corruption and desist from converting public property for personal usage or diverting public funds to their private pockets.”
In his opening remark, chairman of the occasion and a former military Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd), commended Ekweremadu for investing his time and energy to write a book which he described as a wake-up call and thought-provoking move.
He said from the title of the book, it was easy to conclude that Ekweremadu had embarked on a journey of self-discovery hinged on patriotism.
He was of the view that the motivation to write the book arose from the circumstances of Nigeria’s contemporary history as he recalled how “we fought a war to remain united, indivisible nation… because we believed and still believe that what binds us together is far greater than what divides us”.
Like Buhari, Gowon said nobody could claim to love his country and engage in corruption, “which l believe that the current leadership will tackle”.
He prayed that the insurgency or Fulani herdsmen’s menace would not divide Nigeria, adding: “With the help of God and cooperation of the citizenry and the gallant security forces, we shall soon conquer.”
Ekweremadu, in his remarks, called on Nigerian leaders to govern effectively and also use the power at their disposal wisely, noting that doing so was the only way to safeguard the interest of the citizens.
He counselled Nigerians to show greater love for their fatherland by rising above tribal, ethnic, religious and political persuasions in the overriding interest of the country.
According to him, to love Nigeria would entail critically revising and re-examining individual attitudes, values and simultaneously treating one another with dignity, adding: “It demands of us some sacrifice.”
He emphasised the need to bequeath good governance and system to the children, asking rhetorically, “Are we going to bequeath to them a banner stained by corruption, bad governance, ineffective leadership, ethnicity, slacking moral values, decadence, mediocrity, and sloth? God forbid!”
But even as the president ordered the apprehension of the marauding cattle rearers, tension gripped the residents of Ameke Umuchigbo community in Enugu East Local Government Area of Enugu State following the reported invasion of the area yesterday by suspected herdsmen.
The Police Commissioner in the state, Nwodibo Ekechukwu, however dismissed the alleged invasion as a false alarm, stating that when “we received the information, I immediately despatched the DPO, Area Commander and the Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of operations, but the report they returned with showed there was nothing like that”.
Despite the dismissal, a source in the community told newsmen that there was indeed a disagreement between residents in the community and some herdsmen but refused to state whether the disagreement degenerated into violence.
“Trouble started this afternoon. The causality figure is not yet known. School children were even asked to go home,” he said.
It was further gathered that a herdsman stabbed an Umuchigbo citizen, leading to a retaliatory attack by the community.
“Today, the herdsmen mobilised to attack a school. Umuchigbo mobilised and managed to chase them away; all is now calm. However, there are genuine concerns that they will return anytime soon,” the source said.
But further checks by THISDAY showed that some indigenes attacked two cobblers of Hausa-Fulani stock with matchetes, resulting in serious injuries. They were however rushed to the hospital, according to a police source.