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Buhari’s Government Writes British Parliamentary Group, Denies Persecution Of Christians |RN

President Muhammadu Buhari

John Ameh, Abuja

The Federal Government has denied an allegation that it is persecuting Christians in Nigeria.

The government also denied that Boko Haram was propped up to carry out attacks targeted principally at Christians.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, said on Thursday that Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Justice George Oguntade, gave the government’s position in a letter he wrote to the British Parliamentary Group.

It said a group in Nigeria, the Northern Christian Elders Forum, had made the allegation against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, whom the group said was practising “bigotry and alienating Christians.”

The Presidency said letters were written to Rt. Revd. Philip Mounstephen, a former Secretary of the Church Missionary Society and now Head, Independent Review of Foreign and Commonwealth Office Support of Persecuted Christians, and “Baroness Berridge, the Chair of All Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief,” in which the Nigerian Government dismissed the allegations.

“It would be useful for me to engage with this process to ensure that you are thoroughly briefed on the situation in Nigeria,” the Presidency quoted the envoy as writing.

He wrote further, “The safety and security of all Nigerians, whatever their faith, is a fundamental priority of the Buhari government. The government knows that Nigeria can only achieve its potential if there is religious tolerance and cooperation.”

He also mentioned the fact that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo being a Christian, regularly briefed Christian leaders both within and outside Nigeria.

The high commissioner also wrote that Buhari’s cabinet was “balanced,” having Muslims and Christians as members.

The Presidency stated further what Adetola Oguntade wrote, “According to Justice Oguntade, Vice-President Osinbajo has maintained regular contacts with the Christian and Muslim leaders as part of efforts to build and sustain inter-faith dialogue.

“Stressing that the country’s security challenges had no ethnic and religious coloration, the High Commissioner said the farmers/herders’ clashes pre-dated the Buhari administration, noting that such clashes bordered on the desire for pasture by the herders and the desire to protect crops from encroachment and destruction by the farmers.

“Oguntade explained that these clashes had a long history and the Buhari administration is taking a major step to address the root cause of these crises and violent clashes pitting Muslim and Christian farmers alike against the herders.

“According to the High Commissioner, ‘the issue of grazing routes is historically central to these conflicts and the Buhari administration is taking a holistic approach to the matter with a view to ending it once and for all, so that Nigerians can live in peace with one another.

“He, therefore, assured the international community that the Buhari administration would ensure that ‘the competition over scarce land is resolved peacefully for the benefits of all parties.’”

Specifically on Boko Haram, the envoy denied that it was a government-backed group against Christians, saying that the terrorist group was in existence before Buhari assumed office in 2015.

“Boko Haram is a murderous death cult whose savagery has destroyed thousands of lives. The government is totally dedicated to eradicating their stain from our land.

“Since the Buhari administration has been in power, Boko Haram has been significantly degraded – with the support and assistance of the UK Government. We shall not rest until this mission is completed and the people of North-East Nigeria – both Christians and Muslims – can live in peace again,” he added.

The Presidency added that Oguntade enclosed in the letters, Buhari’s opinion article published on November 30, 2018, by London-based Church Times, with the title, “Don’t Politicise Religion in Nigeria.”

It quoted some paragraphs from the article where Buhari wrote that Christians and Muslims could live peacefully in Nigeria.

Buhari had written, “These two great religions (Islam and Christianity) cannot only peacefully coexist but flourish together. But we must first turn to one another in compassion. For as Amos teaches us: ‘Do two walk together unless they have agreed to meet?’

“We must resist the temptation to retreat into our communities because if we do, our palette of possibilities will remain primary. It is only when we mix them together that we can imagine new and greater possibilities.

“As our constitution spells out, politicising religion should have no place in Nigeria. However, it is all the more reprehensible when in doing so; it feeds fears and plays to man’s baser instincts.

“For it makes us turn away from one another; it makes us retreat into our communities and walk different paths; and it blinds us to each other’s God-given dignity.”     (Punch)

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Eastern Region Assembly Condemns SE Governors Meeting With Miyetti Allah |The Republican News

The Eastern Region Assembly, ERA has responded in strongest terms the demand from the Miyetti Allah from South East governors for the Fulani herdsmen to be part of the vigilante group which are to be formed in the Eastern region. The idea of the vigilante is to form a security outfit to check against the menance of the murderous and marauding killer Fulani herdsmen, and the fact that the same group wants to be part of the vigilante security outfit raised eyebrows.

ERA, in their press release had this to say:

THE POSITION OF EASTERN REGION ASSEMBLY ON MIYETTI ALLAH RECENT REQUEST FOR VIGILANTE IN THE EAST

ERA (Eastern Region Assembly) is putting it to the entire governors in Alaigbo and the coastal parts of the region that a successful formation of alien vigilante translates to a successful invasion, occupancy, and outright takeover of our region.

The governors manning the state houses in the region should not forget that they are the custodians of our social pact – common will – and as such will be the ones to be held responsible for whatever social, political, and economic quagmire the region is faced with.

ERA, most especially, frowns at the persistent disunity of the state actors that dot the region, considering the fact that their contemporaries in the West work n-sync with their people. ERA wonders why the needed regional consciousness still remains a spook in the minds of both state actors and traditional leaders in our dear region.

It is the terse submission of ERA’s that as long as the led and leaders in the region cannot sit together and discuss the future of the region the way the West did and was able to anoint Gani Adams, our region will continue to float without any projected destination. Of course, the real reason behind our travails before and after the Civil War is our inability to talk as one people.

ERA was formed with the evasive consciousness of one people, related regional culture, diverse dialects from one language etc. We urge the entire people in the region to borrow a leaf from the West and start doing the needful. We must begin to think of our region first, since it is only in doing so that our tribes will fare better; for no tribe can stand alone: there is so much strength in unity.

ERA will not fail to blame the governors, legislators, and judicial activists in our region should any part of the region fall under indirect administration of aliens whose real goal is to conquer us – religiously, politically, and economically. But we cannot complain without proffering solution. ERA recommends as follows:

1) that the entire people, traditional actors, and state actors fashion out a way to come together vide a regional summit

2) that the regional summit be used to produce a generally acceptable leader who will be supported by the leaders and led in the region

3) that all wrongs in the past be discussed and forgiven in the interest of the region

4) that local vigilante groups in various parts of the region (Egbesu in Ijaw, Bakassi in Alaigbo etc) be reawaken by the state actors and traditional rulers for effective defense of the region

5) that regular meetings be held on rotational basis across the entire states that constitute the region, where issues affecting the tribes and region will be discussed.

Finally, ERA wishes to state that the recommendations put out is not exhaustive per se, since there are numerous others; however, we are sanguine that a successful implementation of these will be a good takeoff. Our governors, legislators, traditional rulers, ohanaeze, PANDEF, IYC, Akwa-Cross Council etc must arise and shield our entire region from this impending disaster. We are one people. We must reinvent our regional consciousness now. A united people are always invincible. God bless us all.

Comr. Russell Idatoru Sunju Bluejack
P.R.O.

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FRESH ATTACKS [Photos]: Bandits Kill 25 In Sokoto |The Republican News

At least 25 people have been killed in fresh bandits’ attack in four villages of Ghandi District in Rabah Local Government Area of Sokoto State at the weekend.

The bandits stormed villages of Tsage, Rakonni, Kalhu and Gee’re villages on Sunday, killing 25 people and wounding many. The state governor, Aminu Tambuwal was among dignitaries who attended the funeral prayer for the deceased on Sunday. Condoling the families, people of Rabah Local government and the state as a whole at the palace of district head of Ghandi, Mr Tambuwal appealed to the security agencies to redouble efforts towards containing the menace.

Tambuwal praised Ghandi community for being their brothers’ keepers and urged them to continue with the good job of providing accomodation to the internally displaced persons. He, therefore, directed the state Zakkat and endowment commission, Isa and Sabon Birni Local governments to come to the aid of the internally displaced persons.Briefing newsmen on the incident in Ghandi town, the state commissioner of police, Ibrahim Kaoje, said four suspects including a woman have been arrested.

The police commissioner however assured that they are on top of the situation.The Governor also attended the funeral ceremony of the deceased.

(politicsnigeria)

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Fulani Herdsmen Testing Waters In The South Prior To Predetermined Attack – Prof. Adebooye

Cartoon: Fulani herdsman with his radio

Prof. Clement Adebooye, who is the immediate past Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Osun State University and Secretary-General, Governing Board of African-German Network of Science, tells FEMI MAKINDE that the present government lacks the political will to tackle insecurity

Killer herdsmen are on the rampage in many parts of the country and there is Boko Haram in the North-East while banditry is ravaging the North-West. What do you think are the implications of these crises?

Definitely, these problems will lead to food crisis. The attacks on farmers and destruction of their farms as well as attacks on their households are dangerous. If you sack farmers from their production zones and they are not able to produce, then there will be nobody to contribute the little proportion they contribute to food production capacity of the country. As things are now, many farmers in the North are at the mercy of donors. They are living at the Internally Displaced Persons camps. Producers have been reduced to beggars and when producers are reduced to beggars, then shortage is looming. So, it is implied that there will be food crisis soon if things do not change.

How do you think the herdsmen crisis can be tackled since it will have a negative effect on food security?

Nomadic life is not new in this country and cattle rustling is not a new phenomenon within Nigeria. The question is why have these two suddenly become big issues? Why do the herdsmen now need to carry sophisticated weapons around instead of rods they used to goad their animals? We should ask questions from those that are older and learn from history. We grew up to know herdsmen and the kind of crisis we are witnessing now was not there then. Are we saying the number of the cattle has increased so much that herders now have to carry AK-47 to protect their animals?  The answer to these questions is no. The issue is that Nigeria is facing a serious and fundamental problem now. This problem is caused by people who have political motives.

What kind of political motives do the herdsmen have?

The political motives are two-pronged. The first is this Boko Haram issue which, in a way, is saying that western education is useless and that people should shun it. It is a political objective and there are some people behind it. The other one may be extreme politics about who governs the nation and who rules where. It appears as if there is a scheme to annihilate the whole of Nigeria and convert it to a particular dynasty that I don’t want to mention. What is happening now is not new to Nigeria. Anybody that has read history will remember that there was a war similar to this before. Between 1840 and 1860, there was a similar war which was launched from the northern Nigeria and the war raged down the South until they were defeated around Osogbo. They were fighting down the South all in the name of Jihad. So, what is going on now can be something like that. The current attacks are not targeted at farmers only; they are killing students, teachers, doctors, chiefs, kings, their subjects and anybody they see. This is not a war against farmers only; it is a war against the generality of Nigerians. Those who launch such wars like the ones we are seeing always have a date that they will launch the major one. They may launch the final war soon. What they are doing now is just to do a trial run and see the level of resistance.

Are you saying they are planning to unleash terror on the nation and overrun it?

They are just ‘test-running’ now to see the level of resistance of the people but unfortunately, there is no resistance anywhere.

But why has it been difficult to arrest those behind this?

The reason is because there is no political will to tackle the problem. We all know that when armed robbers strike in a place and the police want to work, they get those robbers arrested within two weeks. But how many of these herdsmen have been arrested and prosecuted since they have been killing? They have been killing for about four years now; unfortunately, none of them has been caught. This points to the fact they are enjoying a kind of socio-political backing and it is sending a signal that what we are witnessing is a kind of trial run with the hope that in no distant future, they will launch the bigger attack and it will be total.

Is it possible for outsiders to perpetrate these criminal acts without the support of the locals?

It seems to me that the killer herdsmen are not acting and working alone. They have collaborators within the other ethnic groups in Nigeria.  For example, I’m still wondering how brave the herdsmen could be to operate around Asejire along Ife-Ibadan Expressway without the support of the locals. This is the worrisome part of the whole saga. It means that the nation has been held hostage. Everybody is just looking for a way to make money at the expense of the masses. That is why some of those at the lowest rung of the ladder are engaged in criminal activities.

Those in the political as well as ruling class have also held the nation hostage by creating disharmony among the people through politics, religion and ethnicity. We have been disorganised to such an extent that all social structures have been destroyed. Pressure groups are no longer there and we are all praying on the mountain in order to solve social problems that could be solved by one day protest. The psyche of our people is damaged by the political class and that is why our youths have lost the necessary societal values and therefore, cannot think correctly.

As an agriculturist, what will you suggest as the solution to the problem of open grazing?

This problem is political and that is why ranching may never solve it. Ranching and cattle colonies as they are proposing are a way of handling the land of some people over to other people. That is the reason it will not solve the problem. It is a tactical way of grabbing land and giving the same to some people. Israel is in the desert and they practise agriculture on a large scale including raising livestock but there is no problem with herdsmen there.  About 75 per cent of the land in Australia is desert and Australia has much more cattle than human beings; yet this problem does not exist there. Israel is in the desert and the number of cattle there is much more than the cattle we have here in this country. Despite that the landmass is very small compared to Nigeria’s. Have you heard of herdsmen destroying farms there?  They are raising cattle in many countries much more than we have here and they don’t have the kind of crisis that we have.

How are they handling it?

What the government here should do is to create an enabling environment in the areas where people raise cattle. They should set up irrigated pasture in the North. If they establish that, those who carry AK-47 will have no excuse for killing, raping and destroying people’s property all over the country in the name of looking for greener pasture for their animals. Irrigated pasture is a practice in agriculture and it will solve this problem coupled with a strong political will. I am sure you are aware that they grow tomatoes in Kano State, Borno and other states and they grow onions and other things as well. They raise these crops during the dry season with the help of irrigation. Why can’t government use similar irrigation method for pasture instead of coming to seize land from the South-West, South-East and South-South in the name of ranches?  Israel produces enormous citrus and many other crops through irrigation. Why is our government running away from doing that?

Are you saying the government should assist pastoralists by setting up irrigated pasture in areas where cattle raising is their major business?

Yes, this should be done in the North where cattle raising is their business. It makes sense. Why are the people of the South-West not asking government to give them land in the North to grow kola nuts, cocoa and palm trees? Why is the government not providing the enabling environment for the people in the South to go and plant these crops in the North? Why is the government not allowing farmers to go to Kano and other states in the core North to raise pigs? Why can’t government set aside 50 hectares of land to raise pigs in Kano or Sokoto State? Government should create the enabling environment in the North for those raising cattle, not seizing the land of some people under the guise of cattle colonies or ranches.

Insurgency can’t thrive except it is supported by government. Look at what happened in Kano State during the Maitasine riot in 1983. It was put at bay by the troops of the nation. The government troops drove those militants outside the country. What is the difference between the war by the killer herders and the Maitasine rioters? It is the will of the government that is lacking to address the problem. This government in Nigeria has no political will to stop the carnage going on around the country. There is no where people are kidnapped in Nigeria and such is not traced to killer Fulani herdsmen. Most kidnappings in the country are done by these herdsmen. Chief Olu Falae was kidnapped by the herdsmen; the Obafemi Awolowo University professor recently abducted was kidnapped by the Fulani people. Some Methodist priests were kidnapped in Osun State as well as in Ekiti State. This shows that the government has tacitly legalised all these criminal activities and that is why they thrive. Those behind this crime are not arrested or prosecuted; and this has emboldened them to do more.  You can’t see this happening in any sane society.

Let us put things in perspective. How many armed robbers have been arrested in the last four years? They are many. How many robbers have the police attacked and killed in the last four years? I am sure many of them have been arrested and some killed. So, why have the security agencies not been able to arrest any of the herdsmen killing people all over the country? Why is it very difficult to arrest these people? The situation is becoming worse in the South-West.

Are you also saying the South-West is under the siege of herdsmen as alleged by the Yoruba Council of Elders?

The South-West is under the siege of these people. I said something earlier that these people are engaged in trial run of their weapons and strategies and that the day of final onslaught is coming.

How do you think this can be prevented?

It is the government that has the security forces that can do that. The ordinary people are incapacitated. The people that have the instrument of authority should act now before it is too late. I doubt if anybody in the South-West or the South-East is ready to go to war now. These attackers will just overrun us if they strike because the government is not interested in protecting the people.

What do you think is the motive behind the alleged plan to overrun the people?

Do you know that these people have a veiled mission? We have heard that the ISIS has joined the fight and you can never tell their strategy. It appears like they are trying to convert the whole of West Africa to come under a political dynasty that will have one identity. Some people are trying to convert our region to a political entity known to them. It is a conversion process that is going on. From what we have read, people who do this kind of things, all over the world, first carry out trial runs just like the ones we are witnessing now. And after that, they will strike. They will first test the strength of their opponents and the quality of their resistance after which they will strike. Let me make it clear that this has nothing to do with Islam. I say this because we have Muslims in the South-West but have you heard that they slaughter people of other religions because of Islam? Also, In Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other countries where Islam is the dominant religion, such killings do not happen. Why are those ones killing here? You will know that it is part of their culture.

If the executive is not willing to act to prevent the looming disaster, why are the lawmakers at the National Assembly not putting pressure on the executive?

Cheap money impairs thinking. There are no people that will collect the amount of money they collect and will be able to think about the people. They are only representing themselves and not the people. People who get such huge amount of money with little or no work won’t put the people first. Also, the political parties we have do not have ideologies and that is one of the reasons those elected on their platforms do not consider the people in what they do. Nigeria was programmed by God to succeed but some Nigerians have held the country hostage and there can’t be development until the nation is liberated.

You have won many grants for your universities from Germany and Canada. What will you say is making it difficult for many Nigerian scholars to achieve this feat?

The number one thing before you can win grants from these foreign countries is the quality of your research work. Your work must be of good quality before they will agree to fund it. Also, you must have built good reputation for yourself. Those who have given you money before must be able to vouch for your reputation. You must have previous records of ground-breaking research work. Your reputation as a researcher builds the reputation of your university. Those people won’t give you their money because your university has a big name but if somebody from a small university has done a quality research and such has good reputation, it will be easier for others from the same university to receive grants provided they also have good research work they want to do.

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Herdsmen: We’ve Had Enough Killings, Destruction In South East, Ohanaeze Youths Warn |RN

By Godwin Aliuna

The leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council, OYC, on Thursday declared that the South-East region would no longer fold its hands and allow herdsmen to continue to kill, terrorise and destroy properties worth millions of naira of the Igbo in the zone.

The group made this known through a press statement signed by the OYC President-General, Mr. Okechukwu isiguzoro, and made available to DAILY POST in Abakaliki, capital of Ebonyi state.

The statement reads in part: “Ohanaeze has Studied the recent threat of genocidal ethnic cleansing by Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria against the people of the South East for ” their alleged stubbornness “and subsequently the denial of Alhaji Gidado Siddiki, Zonal Chairman, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria Southeast zone, for his apologies and explanations to the people of South East are dead on arrival, as it’s a diversionary tactics to get back to the people of South East unawares, unprepared and to douse the already soaked tension emanating from the leak press release of their planned atrocities because of the resistance of the people of South East against the establishment of cattle colonies in Igbo land.

“We have not forgotten the continuous rape of women (their farms) in Igbagu in izzi and isu in Onicha LGAs in Ebonyi, the continuous invasion and killings by herdsmen In Uzo Uwani and Nsukka environs in Enugu, the recent atrocities in Aba, where herdsmen chopped off a lady’s hand in Abia, and other detailed nefarious activities of
Fulani herdsmen in Anambra and Imo States respectively. We will not fold our arms and allow evil to thrive by these notorious herdsmen. Never again should we allow them to strike unchallenged.

“We will not take laws into our hands to fight back, but rather as a matter of urgency, We call for the establishment of state vigilant groups or the return of the dreaded famous ” Bakassi Boys” with special mandate to engage the armed herdsmen.

“We call on the incoming leadership of State House of Assemblies in Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States and existing leadership in Anambra to proceed without delay to enact laws to establish Local vigilant groups with special mandate to protect our boundaries and fish out armed herdsmen from peaceful cattle rearers, who operate in unholy hours of day.

“We are amazed that over the years that these armed herdsmen had created routes in our bushes and forests where they either have temporary settlement or hideouts as a base for them to prepare to launch attack to their target local communities.

“We call on our Town Unions and Community based groups to be vigilant about the purported rumour of attack by armed herdsmen, never allow them to caught us unawares and unprepared, for any blood of any igbo man killed by these herdsmen will not be tolerated and will be resisted, Ndigbo ” Hausa abatago na Awka” Ndigbo “Agwo nno na akirika”. Stop sleeping at nights, be vigilant Southeast residents,” the council warned.

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Fulani Herdsmen Killing Us Like Chicken, Delta Community Cries Out |The Republican News

Republican News file Photo: Armed Fulani herdsmen


…Says indigenes now captives in their land


Christopher Oji

The people of Ubulu-Uku, a predominantly farming community in Aniocha South Local Government Area (LGA) of Delta State, have raised the alarm over herdsmen’s siege on the area and other neighbouring communities, including Onicha-Ugbo and Isele-Uku, in Aniocha North LGA.

The people of Ubulu-Uku and its environs under attack from gunmen alleged to be Fulani herdsmen have cried out for urgent intervention, saying they need the protection of the police, other security agencies and government attention in general.

In the past two weeks alone, suspected herdsmen have shot dead an illustrious son of Ubulu-Uku, Mr. Chikwe Ojinji, while the medical director of Goodnews Hospital, Isele-Uku, Dr. Andrew Odozi, a native of Onicha-Ugbo, was also murdered by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen.
Dr. Odozi was killed in the line of duty while rushing to the hospital to save the life of Mr. Meme, who was shot in the neck by herdsmen along the Isele-Uku/Ubulu-Uku Road.


The doctor received a distress call from his staff that Meme was rushed to the hospital in Isele-Uku for gunshot injuries. He was on his way to rescue the injured man when he ran into a roadblock mounted by herdsmen, who were robbing commuters unchallenged. The doctor was subsequently robbed and shot.

Dr. Odozi died on the spot and his body has since been deposited at the mortuary. Meme was rushed to the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba, where he is now recuperating. Also in the hospital was a legal practitioner who declined to be named for personal reasons. He was abducted on Isele-Uku/Ubulu-Uku road and paid a N1 million ransom before the herdsmen released him. The lawyer was visiting his hometown from Lagos when he fell into the hands of the gunmen.

He said: “I saw hell. I had brief worth millions on Monday and I was abducted at the weekend. I was released on Wednesday after my wife paid a N1 million ransom. This is a shame. I have lived in the North and I understand a little Fulani. My abductors were Fulani people. How can people from far North come to be abducting people in our land and we are keeping quiet?

“Can people from the South and East go to the northern part of the country and be abducting people, demanding ransom and killing them? This is a shame, and we must address it and rise up against this affront or else we have been captured.”

Under the current scenario, one-time peaceful and serene communities are now under the siege of herdsmen.

Speaking on the plight of Ubulu-Uku people, a member of the local vigilance group, Emeka Chukwudi, described Ubulu-Uku as a conquered community at the mercy of herdsmen: “That is the truth. We have been conquered by strangers who have taken over our farmlands. This is because we are incapacitated by the police who have disarmed us and allowed the herdsmen to move freely with sophisticated firearms. The herdsmen are doing well in their agenda to take over our place. Today, I am so sad that one-time strong Ubulu-Uku is suffering from attacks by Fulani herdsmen.
“Herdsmen abducted our king about three years ago and butchered him like a common criminal. We are still suffering from the abominable act on our king, His Royal Highness, Obi Akaeze Christopher Ofulue. As if that was not enough, the hoodlums, who masquerade as herdsmen, want to render us jobless. You know that we are predominantly farmers, that is our pride, but we are scared to go to the farms for fear of being killed. We are surrounded by other communities such as Abu-Ugba, Ogwashi-Uku, Obior and Isele-Uku. The herdsmen have virtually taken over the borderland between Ubulu-Uku and other towns and are callously unleashing terror on us on a daily basis.

“Recently, a woman was killed between Ubulu-Uku and Obior. She was going to Umunede Market when she was waylaid by herdsmen, who butchered her and stole her motorcycle. We saw her corpse but we don’t know what they did to her before they finally killed her. A few days after, some indigenes coming home for Christmas were robbed. The two incidents forced people to abandon the Ubulu-Uku/Obior road for Isele-Uku/Ubulu-Uku road in order to access other communities.

“As it is, we are in deep trouble. The hoodlums have taken over all the bushes surrounding Ubulu-Uku, through Isele-Uku, Ogwashi-Uku, Obior, Ubulu-Unor, Onitcha-Ugbo and Abu-Ugba.

“There are no longer safe access roads in and out of Ubulu-Uku and there is no help in sight, as people are scared to go to the farm for fear of being killed. Even if one is courageous enough to go to the farm, how will the person transport the farm produce to neighbouring markets, when the access roads have been taken over by killer herdsmen who unleash terror on road users? These brigands are doing their nefarious business unchallenged and this is a slap on our faces. But there is no way we can challenge gunmen with machetes and stones. Our children who live outside the town are scared to visit home because of the killer herdsmen that have taken over our surroundings.

“Recently, Monday Ike, who was working on his farm along the Ubulu-Uku/Onticha Ugbo road, was accosted by Fulani herdsmen who had kidnapped some victims and kept them in the thick forest. The herdsmen were running out of food and water, so they boldly approached him and ordered Ike to go to the village and bring them water and food, at his own expense, warning that they would kidnap him from his farm if he spilt the beans. Ike pledged not to report what he saw to anybody.

“He eventually reported the development to the vigilance group, who called in the police. The police and the vigilance group stormed the forest, rescued the victims and arrested a herder. But a few days later, the suspect was freed by the police.

“Recently, herdsmen blocked the Isele-Uku/Ubulu-Uku road and abducted two occupants of a car. They released the victims after collecting N600,000. Again, an indigene of Isele-Azagba living in Ubulu-Uku, Mr. Sunday, his wife and son were accosted along the road. Their attackers, suspected to be herdsmen, shot the man in the neck and abducted his wife and son. After two days in captivity, the victims were released after N1 million was paid. The man is still battling for his life in the hospital.

“In fact, we are like the bank Automated Teller Machine (ATM) to herdsmen. They are dealing with us unchallenged and it so sad. Right now, we are living in fear and abject poverty, because our farmers are afraid to go to the farm. Commercial motorcycle operation is the only lucrative business in our town now, as farmers have abandoned their farms. And we can’t blame any farmer who has abandoned his or her farmland. Of what use is it, after investing in your farm and working for almost one year, and herdsmen start grazing their cattle with your labour in just one day? That is the problem. Can you imagine what would happen when over 200 cows enter a farm, and when the owner of the farm challenges the herders, they shoot him or her?

“The worst of it all is that they rape women in the presence of their husbands and children and rape daughters in front of their parents and siblings. I don’t want to mention names because of the despicable nature of the act. Abomination is being witnessed in our land.

“We, members of the vigilance group, are handicapped as it is today. We used to patrol our roads, but our vehicle has been grounded and the police have disarmed us, while the herdsmen are fully armed with Ak47 rifles and other sophisticated weapons. We are only left with machetes, knives and axes. How do we use ordinary cutlasses to confront herdsmen armed with AK47 and other assault rifles? The only solution is to fall back to the police, but the police post in our community is manned by a man and a woman. There is no other policeman there. Let the government give us adequate police manpower and leave intelligence gathering for us. We have all it takes in intelligence and we will assist the police in fishing out the herdsmen because we know where they are, but we have been disarmed by the government.”

Younger brother to slain Ojinji, Mr. Charles Ojinji, who narrated how his brother was killed, said: “We are still in shock over our elder brother’s sudden and unnatural death. He was a warrior who has the interest of the community at heart. I have envisaged his murder because we all were farming on the land before Fulani herdsmen, who followed the high tension wire to a forest reserve, near a stream in Aniagbala, a suburb of Ubulu-Uku, took over our farmlands. When we saw that they were fully armed, we left our farms for them. What attracted the herdsmen there was the beautiful stream that is now a curse to us. Their cows would eat our farm produce, eat the yam tubers in our barns, cassava, vegetables, drink our water and mess up our stream. The stream is the only source of water in our community.

“One day, we challenged the herders and they beat some of us up. They held them hostage at gunpoint. Since that time, some people stopped going to the farm to avoid the wrath of herdsmen who have taken over our land. We did nothing and we owe them nothing, yet we have been subjected to all manner of inhuman treatment. Our women are not spared.

“I was shocked last year when my brother went back to the same captured farmland to start farming again. Well, other people were still farming there but, one day, over 200 cows entered the farm and ate up everything. My brother was enraged. I don’t know what transpired between him and the herders. Anyway, a witness told me that my brother was attacked with machetes and shot with a gun. My brother’s wife travelled to Lagos and there was nobody at home. When his neighbours noticed that he did not return from the farm, they called me and we went to the farm and saw him in a pool of blood. We rushed him to the hospital but the doctor confirmed him dead on arrival.

“They have killed my brother, what else can they do? Today it is my brother, who knows the next person tomorrow? Well, herdsmen are everywhere in the bush surrounding our community, we are under siege. The police deposited his body in the mortuary. We want the body of our brother so that we can bury him to allow him to rest in peace.”

On his part, the palace secretary, Joseph Obaze, the mouthpiece of His Royal Majesty, Obi Ofulue, described the siege on Ubulu-Uku community as worrisome: “We are really under serious attack by herdsmen. We are really going through excruciating pains. We have just finished the meeting and we are planning for a massive peaceful protest over the attacks on our people by Fulani herdsmen. We have met heads of farm roads in the town and they all narrated their ordeals in the hands of herdsmen and their cattle. They told how their farms are being ravaged by cattle. Apart from the fruits and vegetables, the herders would go to our barns and feed their cattle with the yams. We have written to the police and they said they were going to discuss the issue in the security meeting.

“There is another keg of gunpowder ready to explode. A native has just opened a cattle ranch and tomatoes market in the town. We are not against him, but he has started employing Fulani to take care of the ranch. Our fear is that, wherever these herders settle, they start bringing their people to the place. We have given the businessman an ultimatum to leave the place because we are not comfortable with killer Fulani people.

“What surprises me is that we rear native cows in this area, yet they don’t stray into people’s farms. Our cows don’t feed on yam and cassava but only grass. They should leave us alone, we don’t need their meat. They should not use their business to disturb ours. As they love their cows, so also do we love our farms.

“Many people are scared to go to the farms for fear of being attacked by the herdsmen. Women are being abused and the men are being killed. That is why we are crying to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the Delta State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Adegoke Adeleke, to come to our rescue and save us from being exterminated by killer herdsmen. The governor and the CP should expedite action as we are living in fear. There is tension in the town, things have really fallen apart.

“It is not as if we are cowardly but we want to explore all avenues for peace. We love peace but our peacefulness should not be taken as weakness. Let the government intervene and save us from a war situation.”
Obaze has, however, appealed to Ubulu-Uku indigenes and residents to be law-abiding and conscious of the development: “Let us not abandon farm work that we are known for. People should go to the farm in groups while those travelling should avoid night journey until the government is able to solve the riddle,” he said.

Meanwhile, CP Adegoke said he was aware of the killing of the doctor, even though the case was not reported to any police station: “I am also aware of the attack on a lawyer and the killing in Ubulu-Uku. I personally led an operation to the bush and some suspects were arrested and are with me. I want to assure you that the police are not keeping quiet. For me to lead an operation to the bush, you must agree that we are doing something about it,” he said.

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It’s Not Our Plan To Attack South East Over Grazing Land — Miyetti Allah | The Republican News

** Commends S/East govs for cordial relationship with cattle breeders

By Vincent Ujumadu Awka-

THE South East branch of Miyeti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, Tuesday denied the alleged plan by members of the group to attack the five South East states over their governors’ alleged refusal to allocate grazing land for herdsmen in the area.

In the said report, which was trending in the social media, Miyetti Allah was quoted as warning that since the South East governors had refused to give them land for grazing, such land would be taken by force by herdsmen.

Chairman of Miyetti Allah in the zone, Alhaji Gidado Sidikki, who addressed reporters in Awka said there was no iota of truth in the report, adding that the governors in the zone should rather be commended for creating an enabling environment for peaceful coexistence in the zone.

The statement read: “Few days ago, we woke up to a malicious publication in the social media purporting a phantom statement in Abuja entitled ‘South East will boil any moment from now because of their stubbornness’ ascribed to the leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, and erroneously ascribed to me.

“While it is my wish to inform the public that Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria did not make any statement to the effect of the content of the publication either in Abuja or anywhere for that matter, I humbly wish to correctly place my designation as the Chairman of South East zone of the association and not the leader of cattle breeders in Nigeria as I was addressed in the publication.

“Again, I wish to put it on record that the South East zone of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria and her cattle herder members whom I serve, as the zonal chairman, enjoy warm relationship with the governors, governments and people of South East Nigeria.

“I wish to state that this warmth has not been completely devoid of flashes of momentary conflicts at few locations.
Such instances were, however, promptly addressed by the authorities and warm commonality restored amongst the people.

“Given the increasing orientation and reorientation of our people and the local people who are our landlords, and given the strong commitment of the state governors towards peaceful relationship across board, one harbours no doubts that the relationship between our herders and their landlords can only be increasingly better as time progresses.

“It is therefore my intention, while dispelling the published rumour from the pit of malicious mischief, to share my upbeat spirit with all of us. It is my utmost belief that the sincere and committed understanding we all propagate today will yield us minimal rancour if not rancour free society tomorrow.

“I therefore wish to thank the governors of the South East states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo for their wonderful sense of accommodation, as I pledge our continued efforts towards greater harmonious environment for thriving economic activities and better life.” (vanguardngr)

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