- Attack went ahead despite security assurances a day earlier
- Arase: Why police can’t protect every Nigerian
By Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu and Seriki Adinoyi in Jos
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State yesterday reviewed last Monday’s invasion of the agrarian community of Ukpabi Nimbo in Uzouwani local government area of the state by suspected Fulani herdsmen where scores of people were killed and stated that security agencies had a lot of explanation to make in view of the prior assurances to forestall the attack.
In a related development, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase has declared that the current numerical strength of the Nigerian Police was far too inadequate to provide security to all Nigerians.
Addressing major stakeholders in the state including the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, members of the National and State Assemblies, council chairmen and members of the State Executive Council as well as PDP chieftains at the Government House, the governor said he was at a loss as to why the attack took place in the first place.
The governor who also gave an indication that he would constitute 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 would be put in place to prevent future occurrence.
“What happened between 6.30am and 7.30 am on Monday 25th April, 2016 despite assurances from the security agencies? Only the security agencies can answer this question,” he fumed.
Going down memory lane, the governor explained: “Four days ago on Monday April 25, 2016, many of our brothers and sisters in Nimbo, 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.
“On Sunday, 24, 2016, by 7 pm, the night before this carnage took place, I got security information from Uzo-Uwani Local Government’s
Transition Chairman, Cornell Onwubuya that such an incident was likely to take place in the state. I immediately summoned a meeting of the State Security Council which commenced by 10pmwith all the security chiefs in the state present.
“In the meeting, we received assurances from the Commissioner of Police (Nwodibo Ekechukwu) that the Area Commander of SARS was on ground in Nimbo; that the Anti-Terrorism Unit was at Nimbo; that he was in contact with the Kogi State Commissioner of Police and reported suspected herdsmen grouping at Odolu in Kogi State preparatory for an attack on Nimbo and Abbi communities; that Police mobile force and conventional police were already drafted to Nimbo and Abbi communities; that he was in touch with the Area Commander, ldah, ACP lkegwuonwu and had linked him with the Area Commander, Nsukka, ACP Monday Kuryas.
“Both men, according to the CP, reported that there were no traces of suspected herdsmen in Nsukka or Idah; that he ordered the Area Commander, Nsukka to redeploy to Nimbo; That the Enugu Garrison Commander ( Brigadier General Olufemi Akinjobi) on his part assured the meeting that Military was already deployed to Nimbo.
“After receiving these assurances of deployments to Nimbo, I felt quite confident that we had done everything possible to forestall an attack
on Nimbo. 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.
“Sadly, in the early hours of Monday, reports of this carnage reached me. More disturbing was the report that the attack on innocent and defenceless citizens were carried out at about 6 30 am. Further reports available to me indicated that apart from the killing and maiming of innocent and defenceless citizens of Nimbo, a Church was also burnt. Following this development, I engaged the security agencies in order to ensure that the Nimbo area was secured from further attacks that might escalate the situation.
“On Tuesday, April 26, 2016, I visited Nimbo in order to establish firsthand the extent of carnage. My visit to Nimbo was revealing. I came face to face with the wounded and bereaved. I saw burnt and damaged personage of Christ Holy Church. I saw a traumatised community in shock and despair. I saw a dead body. I wept. I wondered what had become of our quest for a united, peaceful and prosperous nation. Our first national anthem had a phrase which went thus: ‘though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand.’
“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.”
The Enugu State Director of the Department of State Security (Abdul Malik) was also at the emergency security meeting summoned by Ugwuanyi, a day before the attack.
The governor further explained that he had audience with President Muhammadu Buhari, noting that their discussion was frank and cordial.
“I thank the president 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.
“So long as we are Nigerians, we cannot live in isolation but those who come to Enugu must respect our values and not engage in such dastardly act as we have witnessed recently.” he said.
Arase: Why Police Can’t Protect All Nigerians…
Meanwhile, Arase said the size of the police currently put at 305,000 policemen and women was not enough to guarantee the security of all segments of Nigeria.
The IG stated this while delivering a public lecture on the topic: “Police and Public Partnership in Prevention and Control of Violent Crime and Conflicts in Nigeria” at the University of Jos.
“The work of the police in any society is a very difficult, complex and dangerous vocation. The expectations of members of the public in Nigeria are many and varied and exceed the resources and support given to the police. Failures on the part of the police are easily observed and widely reported and condemned while achievements of the police are rarely recognised, applauded and rewarded.
“Police are in constant contact with dangerous persons and in dangerous situations. In spite of the inherent hostile policing environment and sundry challenges, the Nigeria Police has remained steadfast to its responsibility of guaranteeing the safety of the lives and property of the citizens even at the risk of their own lives.
“Between January 2014 and December, 2015 a total of 278 police officers paid the supreme sacrifice in the discharge of their statutory mandate in relation to enhancement of community peace and security, while 194 others sustained varying degree of injuries. Similarly, between January and April 2016, we have lost a total of 72 Police personnel with 78 others injured in the line of internal security duties. Cases of killing of police personnel have increased since 2009 due to terrorist attacks by Boko Haram.”
Arase suggested that, in order to enhance police efficiency, develop and sustain effective police-public partnership, citizens and communities should appreciate the duties and powers of the police and avoid criticising them just of inconvenience arising from law enforcement intended to guarantee public peace and safety and promote the rights and liberties of others.