Enugu Attacks: Ekweremadu, Lawmakers Visit Nimbo, Insist on Justice

  • Deputy senate president donates transformer
  • Ugwuanyi, monarchs resolve to reactivate vigilante groups

Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu

The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has assured the Nimbo community of Uzo Uwani Local Government Area in Enugu State that the government and federal lawmakers from the state would never rest until justice is done concerning the destruction of lives and property by suspected herdsmen.

Senator Ekweremadu spoke on Sunday when he led a team of National Assembly members from Enugu State on an assessment and condolence tour of the community.

He urged the people of the community to continue to live in peace while a permanent solution to the problem was being sought, assuring them that the perpetrators of the attacks, which led to the destruction of lives and property in the community, would be brought to book.

Ekweremadu further called on all Nigerians to respect the sanctity of life as well as the culture and tradition of host communities where ever they find themselves.

He donated a transformer to support electricity extension to the community while the team also gave N 2 million naira to help in rebuilding the burnt structures in the town.

The Senator said: “On behalf of my colleagues from the National Assembly, we want to send our condolences to those who lost their dear ones in the incident of April 26. We are here to assess the situation as members of the National Assembly from the state and we will appropriately report to our colleagues at the National Assembly when we get back.

“We have seen the carnage, we have seen the church that was burnt; we have seen other buildings that were destroyed; we have seen families, which lost their dear ones. We have also been to the hospital to see those who were injured and we are happy to see that they are recovering and the hospital authorities are giving them adequate treatment.

“We are not going to rest until you get necessary justice and relief to be able to settle down back to your normal lives. Our appeal is that you should continue to live in peace while we are trying to get a permanent solution to this problem. Our people live in other places and we also welcome visitors here but we want a situation where the visitors who are coming to our place will live peacefully with us; they will obey the laws of this land, they will also respect our culture and tradition and respect the sanctity of life, and also the importance of our properties just as our people do where ever they go.

“We want a situation where Nigerians can live wherever they want and be able to establish there, including in our own communities, because our people also live in other places. But we will not accept a situation where people will come here and destroy our lives and property. That is completely unacceptable and we are going to put a permanent end to this kind of indiscipline and irresponsibility.

“On our part, we will do everything to ensure that the place is secure because that is the primary purpose of government-to secure lives and property of citizens. To this end, we are going to ensure that appropriate and well equipped police post is established here. We are also going to work with the governor of Enugu State to ensure that the roads here are made motorable so that the people are able to have access not only to their village but also to their farms.

“I am also happy to announce that the governor has declared Uzo Uwani a special interest area over the next four years and working with the governor and other people, we are going to ensure that after four years, the story of Uzo Uwani will change.
“On a personal note, I will also like to support the extension of electricity by giving you a transformer within the next few days. NEMA will be here by tomorrow or next to bring relief materials to the affected people of this community. We will also be giving this community N2 million to support the rebuilding of the church and houses that were burnt,” he said.
In his address, the traditional ruler of Nimbo, HRH Eze John Ikemefuna Akor, appealed for adequate protection of the community against the hostility of herdsmen which the said had disrupted farming in the agrarian community. He said the community faced imminent starvation in the wake of the recent destruction of lives and farms in the community.

Among those on the team of the Deputy President of the Senate, were Senator Chuka Utazi, Hon. Chukwuemeka Ujam, Hon. Toby Okechukwu, Hon Pat Asadu, Hon. Dennis Amadi, and Hon. Dennis Agbo.

Meanwhile, still lamenting last week’s invasion of Ukpabi Nimbo community in Uzo-Uwani council area of Enugu State, traditional rulers and town union leaders from over 400 communities in Enugu rose from a crucial security meeting with the state Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, yesterday with a resolve to reactivate neighbourhood associations also known as vigilante groups in all the communities in the state.

The governor also pledged to provide an initial seed money of N100 million to support the security efforts and activities of the communities, lamenting that he was still in pain as a result of the loss of lives and property in the Nimbo community.
The meeting however made it clear that the present initiative is not intended to diminish the responsibilities and duties of the security agencies in the state but would “provide effective security for our people, as it is also designed to aid and assist them in the discharge of their duties.”

It was resolved that the state government should prevail on the state House of Assembly to facilitate the amendment of the law establishing the vigilante groups to strengthen them and possibly enable them bear arms.
They also resolved that communities should pay security levies as counterpart contributions to support the state government in funding vigilante groups.

They also resolved “to go back to our respective communities to mobilise our people and sensitise them on the need to support the initiative of government as they relate to security of lives and property in the state.”
Others are “to ensure that we as the traditional rulers and presidents-general of the town unions work harmoniously to ensure the success of the new initiative of government on security matters.

“To reassure all visitors, settlers or foreigners in the state of their safety and friendship of the Enugu people so long as they conduct themselves in a manner that promotes peace and order as well as refrain from acts that may truncate their peaceful coexistence with their host communities.”

The communiqué was read by the governor who had earlier in his opening address announced government’s intention “to activate the provisions of the extant and relevant laws of Enugu State particularly the Neighbourhood Association and Watch Groups Law 2006 which provides for the establishment and operation of neighbourhood watch associations in every autonomous community in the state.

“Though these associations have been constituted in many communities, we understand that most of them have not been functional mainly due to lack of funding and other incentives.

“It is the intention of the government, particularly in the light of contemporary challenges, to reactivate and make them functional in the interest of the peace and security of our people.

“Towards this end, we have scheduled to inaugurate the board for the neighbourhood associations and we will be asking you to make inputs in relation to its composition in order to ensure adequate and fair representation of all concerned parties.
“Schedule 1 made pursuant to Section 27 of the aforesaid law, outlines the sources for the funding of the neighbourhood associations as follows:(a) gifts (b) donations from voluntary organisations, corporate institutions among others (c) grants and presentation from government agencies, individuals, residents of the neighbourhood; (d) levies, dues, fines and subventions from government (e) organised fund raising activities

“Notwithstanding the current poor finances of government, we are constrained by prevailing circumstances to provide an initial seed money of N100 million to support the security efforts and activities of the communities.

The governor used the opportunity to further express appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari, his colleagues, the governors of various states, the National Assembly, Christian religious leaders, the civil society organisations, the media and Nigerians for their remarkable show of concern and outrage over the “dastardly act” and therefore called on the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and all other relevant national and international bodies and organizations to give necessary attention to the incident with a view to bringing the perpetrators to book and preventing future occurrences.