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Enact open grazing law: Stop the killings in Enugu State — CLO


From God’s hand to hands of Killer herdsmen
The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Southeast zone is appalled over the continued killing of hapless citizens of Enugu State across different parts of the state by the murderous killer Fulani herdsmen.

The two recent incidents where scores were murdered in cold blood in Mgbuji, Ehamufu, Enugu State and the reported killings in a farm settlement in Uzo-Uwani area of the state in a most savage and crude way are two extremes which are not only totally  condemned but calls for far reaching measures to address the anomaly in its finality.

The chilling account of the Mgbuji incident including the reported killing of a pregnant woman whose foetus was also ripped open tells the story of a society that has bred some monsters in human form.

But it is important to state that the various litanies of killings perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen in the state have not been fully addressed till today.
Before now, there have been a prevailing culture and conspiracy of silence regarding the incidents of killings and other atrocious acts by killer herdsmen in the state.

This conspiracy of silence bears the imprimatur of government and the security agents who work in concert with some sections of the media to silence and underreport such incidents in the state.

The situation has bred an atmosphere of dying in silence. To put it mildly , Enugu State  going by  the government slogan has been in the hands of God but in reality, some  parts of  the  State has been literarily in the hands of killer herdsmen  who maim , kill, rape, and kidnap victims for ransom.

They strike at random across parts of Ugwuoba, Nachi within the precincts of Anambra-Enugu boundary, parts of Nike, Awgu, Nkanu, Uzo-Uwani among others leaving in their trail, tears, sorrows and blood.

Various communities in six local governments of Nkanu East, Awgu, Udi, Isi-Uzo, Enugu East and Uzo Uwani all in Enugu state live in consistent fear of attack, killings and kidnappings by Fulani herdsmen.

Three comedians, Prince Neche , Mc Two Mic and Mc Apostle  were kidnapped by the Fulani herdsmen on Sunday August 8, 2021  immediately they entered Ugwuoba from Awka on their way to Enugu. They had planned to spend the night in Enugu so as to easily catch a flight at Enugu Airport on Monday morning before they were kidnapped and marched into the forest when their car got stuck on a bad portion of the expressway.

The trios were released three days later after paying ransom to their abductors and their car recovered with several bullet points at Oji River Police Station.

Two Enugu based estate agents, Uchechukwu Abonyi  and Aja Uchenna Michael in a   report recently narrated their own ordeal in the den of Fulani kidnappers when they were abducted alongside their colleague, Emeka Ijegara on April 9, 2021 at Amokpo Nike.

The trio had also gone to the area to inspect a piece of land for a client when they were surrounded by heavily armed men (whom they confirmed to be of Fulani stock) who also abducted them after firing shots and injuring Uche Abonyi when he wanted to run for his dear life. They disclosed in the interview that they paid ransom to the abductors before regaining freedom after four days in captivity.

The two scenarios are samplers out of several unreported cases of kidnapping, abduction for ransom by Fulani herders operating in different forests in Enugu State. In a recent monitored radio programme, several callers disclosed that travelers coming into Anambra or going into Enugu from the Anambra axis are serially abducted at intervals within the Ugwuoba, Nachi axis of the Awka-Amansea-Oji River-Enugu old road.

Five years after the barbaric attack on Ukpabi-Nimbo by Fulani herdsmen that left no fewer than twenty people dead, no single person has been convicted for the heinous crime while the people still bear the scars of the attack till today.

In the recent attack and killings in Opanda-Nimbo, the security agents have not made any announcement of any breakthrough in apprehending the killers, three weeks  after.

There are reports that AK-47 wielding herdsmen have been operating in the Uzo-Uwani area since the 2016 incident till date while the Mgbuji-Ehamufu incident of Sunday August 8, 2021 (The 2nd incident in recent times in the area) would have been covered up if not for the Anglican priest in the area who raised alarm.

The killing of a Catholic Priest, Rev. Fr Paul Offu on 1st August 2019 by suspected killer herdsmen along Ihe- Agbudu road, Awgu local government area elicited public outcry and protests by the clergy. The protests rattled Abuja but instead of taking far reaching steps to address the anomaly, Abuja was more interested on why the government allowed the priests to embark on the protest.

This climate of impunity is the reason why the killers and kidnappers are emboldened to carry on in their criminal activities without shaking or batting of eyelids.

We align ourselves with the Anti Open Grazing Bill now before the Enugu State House of Assembly.

All the states in the southeast should also pass the bill without further delay. We call for accelerated Hearing on the Bill and passage into law with holistic provisions that will take care of the people’s peculiarities. Citizens of Enugu state cannot continue living like strangers in their own land.

There must also be an Executive Will and Might to implement the provisions of the Bill when signed into law because if the provisions of the law are implemented with lip service, the bill becomes exercise in futility and mere paperwork.

The government having made concerted efforts to address insecurity in the state should go a notch higher.  Let the government also fortify the Forest Guards both in manpower, skills and equipments. Their recruitment should not be subjected to political patronage while their welfare should also be given priority attention.

Through proper forest mapping, the state government can take charge of all forests while proper intelligence gathering which remains the hallmark of modern policing would ensure that any suspicious movement of people be it of Fulani stock or residents would be monitored effectively.
Security and welfare of the people remains the first constitutional role of any government. The government should be on top of the situation at all times.

Signed for the CLO, Southeast Zone
Comrade Aloysius Attah,
Zonal Chairman

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