Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on Thursday asked the federal government to take definite stance on the increasing violent attacks on communities and killings of hapless citizens by rampaging herdsmen in the South-east zone, warning that if urgent steps are not taken, the entire agricultural vegetations of the people of the zone would be totally wiped out.
The President General of the organisation, Chief Enwo Igariwey, who raised the alarm in an address he presented at the 2016 Igbo Day celebration inEnugu, said the people of the zone were not living in fear of the rampaging herdsmen.
Igariwey spoke as police in Enugu said they have commenced full investigations into the incident of attack and abduction of three
catholic priests last Tuesday along Akachele village of Obimo in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State.
The three priests belonging to Nnewi Diocese were said to be returning to Onitsha from a condolence visit when unknown persons suspected to be herdsmen, attacked and kidnapped one of them.
The diocese had earlier said the gang had demanded N2.5million ransom.
According to Police Public Relations Officer, Ebere Amaraizu, while the injured priests were responding to treatment, the kidnapped priest secured his freedom 24-hours later.
Also, members of the Ohaneze Ndigbo in Europe led by their Chairman, Chief Oliver Nwankwor, also asked the governors of the five states of the South-east to initiate a common strategy that would put an end to the activities of the herdsmen in the area. The group said once the people were able to unite, it would be easier for them to confront their common challenge.
But, speaking at the Igbo Day celebration, Igariwey, whose address was read by his deputy, Chief Ugochukwu Onyema, said the people of the zone had become more worried than ever, especially in view of the rate of the destruction of their farmlands.
“A situation someone will keep his own farm land, then brings his cattle to feed on the crops in another person’s farm and then turns violently aggressive to his host, is to say the least, the conduct of a peaceful person. Ohanaeze felt that it might help to foster peace if the federal government comes out firm and stern, with pronouncement of this singular worrisome menace. There has always been ways these cattle were handled before now and there was little or no conflict,” he said.
He therefore asked the federal government to as a matter of urgency, “find a way to put away, the conflict resulting from the activities of these suspected Fulani herdsmen. People are far losing patience and might engage in self help to ward off those considered trespassers to their farms and lands.”
Ohanaeze meawhile has raised concern over the state of dilapidation of the South-east roads, especially the Enugu-Onitsha roads, calling on the federal government to declare a state of emergency on the roads.
“There is no geopolitical zone in this country that has such a sorry state of roads, not just now; but a state of disrepair that is transcending into decades, causing frustrations, loss of life and property, loss of valuable time and severe economic loss. Ohanaeze urges the federal government to please show us some sense of belonging and look into this issue as a matter of urgency. We want to see results, so that we can believe,” Ohanaeze said.
The group renewed the call for the unconditional release of leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, stressing that a critical look at the reasons for his agitation would help strengthen things for the country.
Ohanaeze urged the federal government to reconsider the proposal for the sale of national assets and look inwards to address the root cause of the present economic recession.
The organisation called on Igbo entrepreneurs to invest in Igboland so as to give permanent solution to the unemployment of the youths and also develop the zone.
On his part, Enugu Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who was represented by the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Hon. Rita Mbah, harped on the need for unity among Igbos, assuring them that his government would continue to do all it can to protect lives and property of the people of the state.