Christopher Isiguzo writes that survivors of last Monday’s invasion of the quiet agrarian community of Ukpabi Nimbo in Uzouwani Local Government Area of Enugu State by suspected Fulani herdsmen are still reeling from the bloody onslaught on their community
The uproar that trailed last Monday’s invasion of the quiet agrarian community of Ukpabi Nimbo in Uzouwani Local Government Area of Enugu State by suspected Fulani herdsmen leading to the killing of about 48 persons, burning of a community church and residential buildings as well as destruction of other valuables worth several millions of naira may have simmered but its impact on the lives of that once peaceful area would remain evergreen.
Though so many people lost their lives but those who sustained life-threatening injuries are still gnashing their teeth wishing that fateful day never came. At the moment, no fewer than 20 persons scattered across different hospitals in Enugu now have their lives on the cliffhanger. The tears still flowing down the cheeks of a number of them even in their state of unconsciousness speak volume of the pain in their hearts.
From Royal Cross Specialist Hospital where two persons including a former Councillor are receiving treatment, to Bishop Shanahan where six persons, three of whom are still unconscious and Nsukka District Hospital with four persons on their sick beds, the stories are the same. Even at the Orthopaedic Hospital Enugu and Parklane Hospital where about four persons were taken to, it remains a tale of pain, agony, regret, sadness flowing through their minds.
However, while tension has continued to grip residents of communities who are yet to taste the venom of the suspected rampaging herders, most watchers and analysts are still wondering how over 200 suspected Fulani herdsmen successfully invaded a community and executed their plans without anyone of them being apprehended by either the villagers or security operatives despite the fact that the attack was an open secret all along. Prior, to the attack, there were reports that something of such was about to happen. Even among security network, the police, the local government and the state government were alerted but yet it was not forestalled. Alhaji Saidu Bafo specifically told THISDAY that he had alerted the state government of the impending attack and expressed dismay that nothing was done to avert it.
According to two brothers who survived the attack, police were actually deployed to the community the night preceding the attack but they left around 5.30am while the herders attacked around 6am. The two brothers, Cyprian Ogbobe, 41, and Innocent Ogbobe, 35, are currently on admission at Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, Park Lane Enugu.
Cyprian, who had multiple machete cuts on his body managed to say a few things he witnessed on that fateful day with the assistance of his mother, Mrs. Regina Ogbobe, currently attending to them in the hospital. The younger Ogbobe, with cuts on his forehead, arms and leg remained unconscious throughout the period of the interview. He was said to have been in that state since the invasion of their community last Monday.
The severely wounded Cyprian narrated that the herdsmen came with buses but parked far away probably at Kogi side of the border, and sneaked into the community on foot. They probably laid siege in the bush while monitoring the police or being informed by an informant, who apparently tipped them off about police departure. “My brother, let me tell you, we really saw death with our own eyes. This is the most wicked thing somebody could do to a fellow human being”.
Mrs. Ogbobe who held back tears to collaborate her son’s account noted that the herdsmen had posed constant threats to the community over the years. She said they usually go to farm in groups following constant rape of women and destruction of their farms by the cattle herders.
Even in the midst of tears, she said “we have been hearing of all manner of stories about how Fulani herdsmen have been clashing with farmers, but we never knew that Monday would be our turn. There is this young lady, I can’t immediately remember her name, she had been away from the village staying in South America for several years. She just returned recently and was making arrangements to possibly take her family along with her to America with the aim of giving them a good life but you can’t believe it that these herdsmen slaughtered her with her parents. The entire family was wiped out.
“There is nothing these people have not done to us. They have destroyed our farmlands, raped our women, attacked at different times though with minimal casualty but this one is the mother of all of them. There’s no family in our community that is not affected this time around. This is one experience we can never forget in a hurry. See how my children are lying down helplessly on these beds. When they are supposed to be doing something meaningful, herdsmen have confined them to hospital beds. May God see them through,” she said.
In another account, Eze Ngozi, the daughter of another victim of the attack also on admission in the hospital spoke on behalf of her father, a septuagenarian, Mazi Utazi Michael noting that “nobody will even wish his/her enemy such an experience.
According to her, “the invaders shot sporadically into the air, and as people opened their doors running helter skelter, they were being mowed down with machetes and guns. Those who received gun shots died instantly while most of the survivors were those who ran away with machete cuts. Those who saw their death and experienced pain in an unimaginable proportion were those they captured alive. They were cut into pieces, severing their arms first before slaughtering them”.
On his part, the traditional ruler of Nimbo community, Igwe John Akor said the people of the area have suddenly become refugees in their own land as those who managed to escape from the hands of the marauding herdsmen have already fled the community.
“We have never experienced something like this before. What is our sin? Is it because we are peaceful people? I died several times, when I saw the lifeless bodies of my people, when I saw how they were massacred; when I saw how they were ribbed off, when I saw the wailing, the tears. It was so traumatic but my prayer is that God will help us. The governor was here and he promised to take care of the bills of those in the hospitals, we are grateful to him. But, we are also asking that they should provide security to our people. The security people were alerted that these people will attack but nothing much was done and it happened in a most gruesome manner. May this never happen again,” he told THISDAY.
Meanwhile, condemnations have continued to trail the incident with members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) vowing not to fold their arms and watch innocent citizens of the South-east lose their lives in the hands of the suspected rampaging herders. The group said the attacks by suspected Fulani herdsmen, is a calculated attempt by the Hausa-Fulanis to Islamise Nigeria, especially Ndigbo but said that the plans will not work.
According to a release made available to journalists in Enugu, signed by the Director of Media and Publicity, IPOB, Emma Powerful, there had been such attempts in the past starting from Usman Dan- Fodio to Islamise Nigeria but it did not work.
The group frowned at the leaders of Igbo people who they call Biafrans, especially the governors of the South-east for not living up to expectation, saying that this was what made way for the senseless killing and maiming of citizens by the Fulani herdsmen. They pointedly accused the South-east governors of playing politics and games with the lives of their subjects by not doing much to check the rampaging herdsmen.
“The governors and politicians used the life of their subjects to play games and politics, if not so, why would they not summon an emergency meeting to deliberate the impending danger, condition of their people, because they were used by their counterparts in the North against their people. Let them go and see what the governor of Kaduna State is doing to the Christians in that state and their master in Aso Rock is not saying anything because it is a strategy to Islamise the Biafrans and Christians. While Fulani herdsmen kill hundreds all around the country daily, we remember this tweet from @elrufai never forget, we will write this for all to read, anyone, solder or not that kills the Fulani takes a loan repayable one day no matter how long it takes.
“Now, the Hausa Fulani and Boko Haram terrorist groups are killing, raping our women and girls, destroying our farmland and kidnapping our people with impunity on a daily basis in disguise of Fulani herdsmen and cattle rearers and nobody is saying anything because they are Biafrans. The DSS will never come up with their concocted intelligence report again, let the world hear it now. We are totally disappointed with the governors and politicians of this land for not knowing the meaning of chief security officer of their states,” the release noted.
While lamenting what happened at Uzo-Uwani, IPOB lamented thus: “Biafrans, our destiny changes with our thought, we shall become what we wish to be, when our betrayers thought, the governors and politicians corresponds with our heart desire because they are sabotaging every efforts we do. In line with this, posterity will never forgive those who sabotage the struggle and Biafra restoration. We have no other place except Biafra.
“IPOB worldwide, will not fail to let the Hausa Fulani know that historically, the Biafrans were not born like cowards and we are ready for what is to come. They tried this their Islamisation agenda before, during the era of their fathers Usman Dan- Fodio and Amadu Bello but they did not succeed and they did it again in 1966-1970 when they decided through Hassan Katsina, Yakubu Gowon, Muhammadu Buhari, Olusegun Obasanjo, Murtala Muhammed and Ibrahim Babangida and others to kill Biafrans from two years up. We know that they will still fail again but you bear in mind that this is 21st century. Biafrans are the chosen people of Chukwu Okike Abiama (God Almighty) and no weapon fashioned against us shall prosper.
“All these happenings, prove that the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra Mazi Nnamdi Kanu the prophet and visionary of our time is right because all his prophecies have come to pass. The Christians in this country you are still waiting for the total Islamisation before you do something. This is the time we take the destiny in our hands before what happened to the Christians in the North Africa and Turkey happen to you,” the group pointed out.
Among notable persons and groups who have joined in condemning the massacre in Ukpabi Nimo include, are the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Godfrey Onah, the Enugu State chapter of Ohaneze Ndigbo, the South-east chapter of the All Progressives Congress, the Christian Association of Nigeria, Enugu chapter, among others. They all asked the federal government to devise strategies aimed at checkmating the activities of the suspected marauders.
Meanwhile, following his visit to troubled Ukpabi Nimbo community Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, has convened an emergency meeting with the traditional rulers, president-general of Town Unions and leaders of the neighborhood watch in all the communities in the state for Monday, May 2 (today).
A reliable source disclosed that the meeting is part of series of action plans of the state government to find a lasting solution to the menace of the Fulani herdsmen in the state. It was gathered that the governor was determined to put an end to the inhuman acts of the herdsmen which have consumed the lives and property of innocent citizens of the state as well as threatened the peace and security of the state and the nation at large.
It could be recalled that Governor Ugwuanyi had while addressing the people of the Nimbo community called for peace, fasting and prayers for the intervention of God, assuring them and the people of the state that he will do everything possible within his constitutional powers to end the incessant menace posed by the herdsmen in the state.
The governor also disclosed that when he got a security report on Sunday that the attack will take place in the community, he immediately summoned an emergency meeting of the State Security Council which met on Sunday night till the early hours of Monday, shortly before the herdsmen struck, regretting that the sad incident eventually occurred after all the assurances given to him by the security operatives that the attack will not happen. The scheduled meeting, according to the source, is expected to map out the best strategies that would promote peace and end the attacks from the herdsmen.