Enugu Killings: Ugwuanyi and Quest for National Unity


Levi Odogwubueze, Jnr.
The misconceptions, pain, emotions, anger and condemnations that greeted the recent senseless killings of innocent citizens of Enugu State in Nimbo, Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area, by suspected Fulani herdsmen are quite understandable and appreciated.

hreatened the unity and existence of the country as one indivisible entity, has equally set a new agenda for the renewal of national unity and integration. It has sensitised the world against the growing national terror culture of the herdsmen that has fast snowballed into an endemic disaster against the peoples’ right to life, with all the imperious features not very different from those of Boko Haram.

The herdsmen attack in Enugu has equally caught the security agencies lacking in intelligence. The carnage has received the widest attention so far witnessed since the itinerant herdsmen opened their wild killings on an industrial scale, to the extent that every ethnic group in the country and, indeed, the globe have risen to condemn the heinous act as criminal and barbaric.

President Muhammadu Buhari while condemning the Enugu attack directed the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonishakin, and the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, to immediately secure communities under the attack of herdsmen. Buhari also gave a presidential directive that the perpetrators of the dastardly acts should be arrested and brought to justice.

The president’s intervention was sequel to a meeting he had with the Enugu State governor, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who was at the presidential villa to brief the president on the unfortunate incident and seek the best ways to tackle the inherent challenges with circumspection. Buhari’s intervention was a major breakthrough towards finding a lasting solution to the menace of the herdsmen. I commend the president for his prompt and decisive decision. I hope that the outcome of his directive will yield the expected positive result.

There is no doubt that Ugwuanyi, who first visited the traumatised Nimbo community to sympathise with them and offer necessary assistance to the survivors and families of the deceased, displayed a deep sense of maturity and wisdom in handling the matter by not making inciting comments that could have allowed a reprisal attack.

Even though, the governor’s peace approach was initially misunderstood and mistaken as a sign of weakness, especially, in the social media, the recent turn of events have vindicated his wisdom in calming frayed nerves and maturely de-escalating the very tense situation.

He did not stop at that, he assured the people of the state that he will do everything possible within his constitutional powers to put an end to the menace of the herdsmen and bring the culprits to justice. Today, I am elated that he has taken decisive actions towards fulfilling his assurances through his administration’s donation of a seed fund of N100 million for the reactivation of neighbourhood watch in all the communities in the state, redeployment of the then Commissioner of Police by the Nigeria Police headquarters, among others.

At the time the people were reacting negatively in the social media against the governor’s approach to the matter, I was convinced that his stance on peace, against outright retaliation or reprisal attacks, was in the overall interest of Ndigbo, especially our brothers and sisters who reside in the northern parts of the country. I saw the consequences of a reprisal attack on our innocent brothers and sisters in the North who would fall victim to a possible counter- attack.

I wondered what would have been their fate if such an ugly incident occurred. I asked myself, would all these people criticising the governor’s peace approach in the social media come to their rescue if anything strange happens? Of course, no! I thank God that it did not happen. I equally thank Ugwuanyi for making it not to happen.

All these compelled my recent post in the social media supporting the mature and peaceful approach of the governor in handling the matter. I commended his wisdom and maturity and assured him that posterity will be kind to him at the end of the day for not allowing a reprisal attack.

Today, the governor’s maturity has brought a radiant hope towards a new order of national unity and integration among our brothers and sisters from other tribes of the country. It has proved that most wars do not end through the barrel of the gun but through the ability to identify peace as the best alternative measure.

I was touched by the narrative of the governor on his painstaking efforts to forestall the attack on Nimbo and the assurances given to him by the security agencies that the attack will not happen. After the governor’s press conference on the attack, I did not hesitate to concur with his stance that only the security agencies can answer the question concerning what happened at Nimbo between 6.30am and 7.30 am on April 25.

According to the governor, “After receiving these assurances of deployments to Nimbo, I felt quite confident that we had done everything possible to forestall an attack on Nimbo. Sadly, in the early hours of Monday reports of this carnage reached me. More disturbing was the report that the attack of innocent and defenceless citizens was carried out about 6:30am…

“On Tuesday, April 26, 2016, I visited Nimbo in order to establish first-hand 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 has 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.’”

I was also impressed with the kind words by the governors on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress, when they paid a condolence visit to Enugu to sympathise with the government and people of the state over the herdsmen attack. The APC governors through their forum’s chairman, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, condemned the attack and commended Ugwuanyi for his show of maturity in handling the provocative incident. They described the attack as a criminal act that cannot be associated with tribe, religion or political party.

I was equally glad to note that Governor Ibrahim Shettima of Borno State, who spoke on behalf of the northern governors under APC, told the people of Enugu State that they were in the state to register their profound condolence over the tragic loss. He stated, “As a nation, we mourn and rejoice with each other at different times. We have lived with our brothers and sisters in the North-east ravaged by Boko Haram for years. What kept us going was the empathy from people living outside the North-east. Times like this call for maturity, calmness, leadership role. We are one nation with a common destiny. The killers should be treated like criminals and should be fished out and dealt with.”

Also speaking, Governor of the State of Osun, Ogeni Rauf Aregbesola, from the western part of the country, condemned the carnage as callous, saying that the people of Enugu State are not alone in this moment of grief as the governors would collaborate with the federal government to put an end to the incessant killings by the herdsmen. He commended Ugwuanyi for the manner he handled the matter by not allowing a reprisal attack.

In all, it seems that the incident in Nimbo and Ugwuanyi’s display of maturity in the face of provocation have renewed the quest for national unity and integration, in line with the dreams and aspirations of the country’s founding fathers. Let us, therefore, work together as a family to end these incessant killings and maiming of innocent and defenceless citizens of the country by the marauding herdsmen to be able to achieve our common goal of a prosperous and united Nigeria. May the souls of all those that lost their lives in the carnage in Nimbo and other parts of the country rest in perfect peace, and may those who perpetrated these heinous acts never go unpunished. Amen.