- Killings bad omen, says Shehu Sani
- Bello sets up commission of enquiry
- Anglican Bishops kick
Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City, Ademola Babalola in Ibadan, Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja and Segun Awofadeji in Gombe
Five persons including a first year student of the Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma, Edo state, Collins Ojeriakhi, have been reported killed in two separate attacks by suspected herdsmen in Ugboha, Esan South East Local, and Odiguete Ovia North East Local Government Areas of Edo state.
Besides, 12 persons are currently hospitalised at the Benin Central Hospital and other private hospitals as a result of the attacks by the herdsmen.
The incident at Ugboha, THISDAY was told, occurred Friday night at about 7:30 pm when the deceased Collins and his friends were on their way back to the village from Uromi.
Father of the deceased, Mr. Festus Ojeriakhi, while narrating the incident said: “I am just confused. I was actually in the house easting at about 8pm and I started asking about my son who was not there. I was told he went to Uromi with his friends on a motorcycle.
“It was around 9pm that the mother of my son´s friend started shouting, crying that herdsmen have killed her son. I rushed out of the house and I asked about my own son. I was told he died too with his friend.
“We immediately detailed boys and ran to the place. When we got there we were told that the police have come to take the corpse to Ubiaja mortuary. I was told my son and two others including the friend died. They said the other person that died is an Igbo person.
“The information we heard was that as my son was driving home with his Okada, the herdsmen and their cattle blocked the road and they waited for them to leave the road. Immediately they passed, some of their people in the bush opened fire on my son and his friends and they died at the spot.
“I have been to the Area Commander’s office and they said they are investigating the matter. I don’t know what to do. This is a young boy that just entered university”, he lamented.
The killing at Odiguete community in Ovia North East, as learnt, happened early morning Saturday, when the herdsmen invaded the community, shooting sporadically and in the process killed two persons.
It was gathered that the community and the herdsmen have been having a running battle in the area for some time now.
However, some of the wounded persons were said to have been admitted at the Benin Central hospital while the bodies of the two dead persons have been deposited at an undisclosed mortuary.
When contacted, the Edo State Commissioner of Police, Johnson Babatunde Kokumo could not answer his phone.
However, one of his aides who later picked said the CP was in a meeting but several calls made to him later were not unanswered.
Similarly, the Public Relations Officer of the Command, Mr. Chidi Nwabuzor, who was also contacted, said he was attending an event, and therefore cannot comment.
Meanwhile, few days after he laid bare the controversial N13.5 million and N750,000 monthly package for each Senator of the 8th National Assembly, the Senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani yesterday in Ibadan, said the ongoing herdsmen killings was a bad omen for President Muhammadu Buhari’s much touted second term aspiration and by extension, the fortunes of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019.
To this end, the Senator said the development has brought to front-burner the moral compass of the party to seek for votes from Nigerians in 2019 if herdsmen killings in different parts of the country continue unabated.
Sani said the peace, security and stability of the nation becomes imperative for the ruling party to actualise if the party is going to secure the votes of Nigerian electorate to stay in power beyond May next year.
The senator spoke on both the Fresh FM Ibadan South West Political Forum and at the 5th development summit of the Olalekan Olomide Platform for Development, at the Press Centre, Iyaganku, Ibadan, Oyo State.
While calling on the leadership of the party to urgently intensify effort in nipping the crisis in the bud before it is too late, Sani also made reference to what he described as the outstanding performance of the party in the area of corruption fight and war against insurgency.
“We must honestly admit that there are successes achieved by this administration, but the mindless killings, violence, and blood shedding in most states of federation are mind boggling and a matter of serious concern.
“The crisis is also a threat to the peace and unity of Nigeria. The killings are not acceptable and that is why I said the President must stand up to the reality of our country today. If our party cannot guarantee the peace and stability, we have actually have given up our moral right to ask people to vote for us into power again.”
Speaking on the role the southwest played to ensure victory for APC in 2015, the senator urged the region to speak with one voice and have a black and white agreement in demanding for their right from the ruling party.
“The southwest is the heartbeat of the APC and if by chance we suffer a stroke here, that is the end of the story. The region should put its house in order and have a written agreement with the ruling party that after supporting the party in 2019, it is the turn of the region.
“This is important because the political class are not gentlemen and they don’t respect a gentleman agreement.”
Earlier a Professor Emeritus, Professor Oladipo Akinkugbe had urged the political class to consider the masses in their policies and programmes for betterment of the society.
In a related development, Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello has said he will set up a judicial commission of enquiry to unravel the circumstances that led to the recent attack on Oganaenugu, in Dekina local government area of the state.
He made this known during an on-the-spot assessment to the troubled spot where an entire village of Oganaenugu was sacked between Tuesday and Thursday last week by armed bandits suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
The Governor, who met a deserted village as only two surviving men were on ground to welcome him and his entourage, said the unfortunate incident would be the first and the last as government in collaboration with the law enforcement agents would put every measures in place to prevent further attack.
“This is going to be the first and the last of this type of attack; we will not play politics with lives of our people.
According to him, it is the responsibility of every government to secure the lives and property of its citizens adding that “we will not shy away from our responsibility”.
He said the people would be comforted and would soon be enjoying infrastructural facilities which had eluded then for so long.
The Speaker, Kogi State House of Assembly, Prince Matthew Kolawole has condemned the attacks in Oganenigu. This was contained in a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the Speaker, Mr. Femi Olugbemi.
“A callous act that mustn’t be taken for mockery and political scores; this callous act is that one ought to be condemned by all in order to collectively fight every form of insecurity and complement the efforts of the State Government in protecting lives and property of the citizenry.
“The decision of the State Government to key in to the Cattle Colony policy of the Federal Government and the decision of same to accommodate the peaceful Fulani cattle rearers shouldn’t be an avenue for criminals to perpetrate their evil.
“The decision is to consolidate on the agri-economic policies and give our dear State the befitting development it required and long overdue for because endless are its benefits. With great pain and commitment to do all it takes to stop such attack, the 6th Assembly commiserates with the entire constituents, Kogites and families of those affected.
“The issue of Herdsmen/Farmers clashes cum accommodating them is one taken seriously by the legislature, as such there’s a motion to make provision for the biometric registration of all Fulani Herdsmen in the State, this will help to check their influx and apprehend the criminals in whatever guise.
“The Government is in charge and doing everything possible with the help of all security outfits to calm the situation, investigate and apprehend the culprits for justice. It’s a security issue and shouldn’t be politicised in mocking the Government’s decision to encourage the Cattle Colony policy,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Kogi state police command has said the herdsmen/Farmers clashes in Oganeigwu in Eastern flank of the state have been brought under control as normalcy is gradually returning to the area.
The Deputy Commissioner in charge of Criminal Investigation, DCP Mohammed Ahmed Barde disclosed this while briefing Journalists at the Police Command headquarters in Lokoja saturday. He said since the presence of the security personnel in the area, the crisis has been checkmated.
Barde explained that only 12 people were reportedly killed in the clash between the Farmers and herders in the area.
According to him, Kogi State was relatively peaceful before the crisis broke out on March 14, stressing that the Anyigba Area commander had ensured security agents have been deployed to the area.
He advised the farmers and herdsmen to live together in peace and harmony. He urged the Fulani herdsmen to stop grazing into any farm, while the farmers should stop killing their cows to allow peace to reign in the area.
He pointed out that the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of administration had earlier visited the troubled zone. He therefore urged the people in the area to go about their normal business.
Furthermore, some of the victims who were attacked by Fulani herdsmen at Oganenigwu in Dekina local government area of Kogi State have revealed that the herdsmen slaughtered their people like chickens.
Mallam Ismaila Maji who spoke with THISDAY at Oganenigwu during the visit of governor Bello yesterday said the attack took them by surprise around 8am on Wednesday.
“As they entered the city they started shooting at the natives sporadically. Our people tried to repel the attackers but were overwhelmed as they were over 500 in number.”
He said the people had no option but to run for their lives as the herders continued to fire gunshots at them with sophisticated weapons like AK47.
“They killed about 25 of our people. Apart from that they also killed about six of our people at Ogbakaka; some are still in the hospital.”
He added that the Fulani overwhelmed them as they made away with food stuffs and all valuables, physical cash and about 45 motorcycles belonging to the natives.
“There is virtually no young man who is not having a motorcycle. Our people have moved out in droves to neighbouring villages. However, the village has no police station and no health facility”, he said.
Another victim, Mallam Usman Hassan who also spoke with THISDAY appealed to Government to come to the aid of the people as they have lost almost everything, while about 30 people died.
Hassan said the matter was beyond their contemplation, adding that they were not happy with the Fulani herdsmen, even as he pleaded that they should leave their domain for them so that they can go to farm and produce what they will eat.
According to another victim, Mr. Aaron Baba, the Fulani herdsmen killed his father. He said they were more than 500 and they killed 12 whom they buried while many others bodies have not been recovered.
“They came in took us by surprise. They came in military camouflage with AK47, AK45 and AK49 you can see the empty bullet shells scattered all over. I am appealing to Government for assistance. We have been friendly with Fulani to the extent of engaging in trade by barter until recently when they started acting like Boko Haram”, he added.
Meanwhile, Bishops of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion in the Northeast have called on the Northern Governors Forum (NGF) to urgently initiate ways of disarming killer herdsmen to prevent the breakdown of law and order in different parts of the country.
The Bishops, who were in Gombe for the Fourth Jos Ecclesiastical Provincial Council meeting, told Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo during a courtesy call yesterday that there is great need for the NGF to synergise to disarm the killer herdsmen and check the devastations of communal clashes in the country.
Jos Ecclesiastical Province comprises all the Northeastern States of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe and North-central State of Plateau.
They told the Governor who was represented by his Deputy, Hon. Charles Iliya that “we desire that the vision of the founding fathers and patriotic leaders of this nation should not be destroyed”.
Spokesman of the Bishops and archbishop of Jos Ecclesiastical Province, Rt Rev. Henry Ndukuba said “we want to appeal through you to the Northern Governors Forum and other for a need to synergise to disarm the killer herdsmen and to check the devastations of communal clashes in the country”.
He said, while they commend the efforts of the Nigerian Armed Forces and Government in the fight against insurgency, “the attack on worship centres and abduction of school girls, is attack on the very future of our nation and will need to be handled carefully.”
The Bishops who also sought the active involvement of religious leaders in the Northeast Development Commission and the Presidential Committee on Northeast Initiative said doing so will be very appropriate since they are working for the people.
In Ndukuba’s words, “we seek your partnership as a leader in Government to seek for how to involve more actively religious leaders both Christians and Muslims in the Northeast Development Commission, the Presidential Initiative for displaced people of the region and other agencies working for our people. The people mostly affected in some communities are our people and both churches and mosques have been directly attacked.”