Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu has disclosed that he received a security alert that suspected Fulani herdsmen were planning to attack the Nimbo community in Uzo Uwani local government area of the state, adding that the heads of security agencies assured him that they had mobilized their operatives to protect the threatened town.
In an address to the people of the state today, Governor Ugwuanyi reviewed the gruesome attack that took place on Monday, April 25, 2016, declaring that “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.”
According to the governor, the night before the carnage he had received security information from Cornell Onwubuya, the transition chairman of the Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area, to the effect that such an attack “was likely to take place in the state.”
Mr. Ugwuanyi disclosed that he immediately summoned a meeting of the State Security Council which began at 10 pm, attended by the Garrison Commander, Brigadier General Olufemi Akinjobi, who represented the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, the Commissioner of Police, Nwodibo Ekechukwu, the State Director of Department State Security Services (DSS), M. Abdul Malik, the State Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, Lar Stephen, with representatives of the Nigerian Air Force, Federal Road Safety Corps, and Nigerian Prison Services as observers. Apart from the governor, the government team at the meeting included the Deputy Governor, the Secretary to the State Government, the Chief of Staff, the Chairman of the State Traditional Rulers Council, and the Attorney General of Enugu State.
According to Mr. Ugwuanyi, the Commissioner of Police assured the participants at the meeting that the area commander of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad and members of the anti-terrorism unit were present at Nimbo. Governor Ugwuanyi also disclosed that the Enugu State Commissioner of Police also stated that he was in contact with the Kogi State Commissioner of Police who revealed that suspected herdsmen were grouping at Odolu in Kogi State in preparation for an apparent attack on Nimbo and Abbi communities.
The Enugu State police chief also told the security meeting that mobile and conventional police “were already drafted to Nimbo and Abbi communities.” He also reported that he was in touch with police commanders in ldah and Nsukka and that both officers stated that they had seen no suspected herdsmen in Nsukka or Idah. The Enugu police chief disclosed that he had ordered the Area Commander for Nsukka to “redeploy to Nimbo.”
In his statement, Governor Ugwuanyi also disclosed that the military representative at the security meeting also assured the meeting that soldiers had been deployed to Nimbo. According to the governor, “the State Government provided logistics for these deployments.”
Mr. Ugwuanyi stated that, with the assurances that deployments had been made to Nimbo, he felt “quite confident that we had done everything possible to forestall an attack on Nimbo.” He added: “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.”
The governor’s statement continued, “Sadly, in the early hours of Monday reports of this carnage reached me. More disturbing was the report that the attack on innocent and
defenseless 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 defenseless citizens of Nimbo, a church was also burnt.”
On receiving reports of the gory attacks, the governor disclosed that he “engaged the security agencies in order to ensure that the Nimbo area was secured from further attacks that might escalate the situation.”
The rest of his statement read: “On Tuesday, April 26, 2016, I visited Nimbo in order to establish firsthand the extent of the carnage. My visit to Nimbo was revealing. I came face to face with the wounded and bereaved. I saw burnt and damaged parsonage 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 [that] 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 the 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 an 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 6.30 am 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.”