CLO condemns killer-herdsmen attack in Enugu, demands speedy Anti- Open Grazing Bill passage in South-East

August 23, 2021
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By Favour Goodness

Human rights group, Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), South-East Zone, has expressed concern over the continued killing of citizens of Enugu State across different parts of the state by Fulani herdsmen.

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The group raised the concern in a statement issued and signed by its Southeast Zonal Chairman, Comrade Aloysius Attah.

While condemning the continued silence and inaction of the government of Enugu to the alleged wanton killings being perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen, the group alleged that there is a prevailing culture and conspiracy of silence regarding the incidents of killings and other atrocious acts by killer-herdsmen in the state.

South-East CLO also alleged that some government officials and security agents are working with some sections of the media to silence and underreport such ugly incidents in the state.

The group lamented that the ‘atrocity’ being perpetrated by the killer-herdsmen has distanced the state from its known slogan, ‘In the hands of God’, adding that in reality, some parts of the state has been in the hands of killer-herdsmen who maim, kill, rape, and kidnap victims for ransom.

The statement, while citing instances of attacks further reads: “Various communities in six local governments of Nkanu East, Awgu, Udi, Isi-Uzo, Enugu East and Uzo Uwani all in Enugu state live in constant 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 trio 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 August 1, 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.”

South-East CLO recommended the passing of the Anti-open Grazing Bill for Enugu and Southeast governments to curb the excesses of the killer herdsmen.

It also called for the speedy hearing of the Bill and passage into law with holistic provisions that will take care of the people’s peculiarities adding that 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 rights group said.

It also demanded governments in the Southeast to fortify the Forest Guards both in manpower, skills and equipment.

South-East CLO charged the government not to subject their recruitment to political patronage while their welfare should also be given priority.

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