Thursday, April 28, 2016

Outrage in Nigerian Senate Over Herdsmen Killings
By Onyedi Ojiabor,
The Nation, Nigeria
April 29, 2016

Angry senators yesterday raised an ad-hoc six-man panel to conduct a public hearing next week on the killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen.

The decision was taken after an emotional debate of Monday’s killings in an Enugu community by the herdsmen.

The committee is expected to proffer solutions to the herdsmen’s problems.

Members of the committee are: Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume (North East), Senator Shehu Sani (North West), Senator Isiaka Adeleke (South West), Senator Mao Ohuabunwa (South East), Senator Ben Bruce Murray (South South) and Senator Abdullahi Adamu (North Central).

The lawmakers also resolved to invite security chiefs to brief the Senate on the movement of fleeing terrorists to ensure that measures are put in place to forestall a spread of terrorism

They observed a minute silence in memory of those who were killed in the attacks in Nimbo community in Enugu and urged the National Emergency Management Agency, (NEMA) and other relevant agencies to urgently dispatch relief materials to Nimbo community and other neighbouring communities to ameliorate the living conditions of the victims of the attack who have become Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

The Senate also urged security agencies to improve their intelligence gathering capabilities and be proactive rather than reactive threats to internal security.

The resolutions and expression f anger followed a motion on “The gory massacre of the people of Nimbo community in Uzo Uwani Local Government of Enugu State.” Sponsored by Senator Chukwuka Utazi, (Enugu North).

Senator Utazi in his lead debate noted that around 4am on Monday, 25th April 2016, Fulani cattle herdsmen in their numbers, armed with sophisticated weapons, invaded Nimbo community in Uzo-Uwani LGA, Enugu State while the villagers were asleep.

He listed Nimbo Ngwoko, Ugwuijoro, Kkwuru, Ebor, Enugu Nimbo, Umuome and Ugwuachara as the place the herdsmen attacked.

He lamented that the rampaging herdsmen, who entered the areas through the border with Kogi State, unleashed unspeakable mayhem on the community, shooting, hacking and slitting the throats of unsuspecting residents of the village and trouched buildings.

Uzazi added that “following this orgy of killings by the herdsmen, about 38 people were gruesomely murdered, over 100 persons sustained varying degrees of injury, many fatally.”

The lawmaker, who said there is ongoing intensive search to recover more bodies or account for missing persons, noted that many domestic livestock were slaughtered while countless number of houses and other property were razed.

He said two churches – Christ Holy Church of Nigeria and Parish House of St. Mary Catholic Church – in the community were torched.

Utazi catalogued incidents of Fulani herdsmen attacks in parts of the country and insisted that something should be done.

At the end of the debate, 20 Senators, contributed expressing their frustration over the handling of the issue.

Senator Murray-Bruce (Bayelsa East) said: “They (herdsmen) are a deadly force; they have turned Nigeria into a very dangerous country. They have been going around killing, raping, maiming innocent people and destroying property. They have killed more people in Nigeria on an annual basis than Boko Haram.

 ”My problem right now is when regular people start retaliating. That day is here and that day is now. The civil war was fought in a conventional passion, one army facing another army, now you are going to have a guerilla warfare. It is not a war anybody can win; it will cause a destruction of Nigeria.

As far as I am concerned you need a license to own a gun. Nobody has a right to own a gun without a gun certainly outside the theatre of war. ”

Senator Godswill Akpabio said the Senate is playing politics by saying that the herdsmen are not Nigerians.

Akpabio wondered how non-Nigerians entered the country with sophisticated weapons to kill, main and rape warning the country cannot survive a second civil war.\

Senator Gilbert Nnaji (Enugu East) said there should have been massive reprisal in Enugu but for the prompt action of security agencies.

Senator Nnaji said the Nimbo attacks should be taken as an eye opener for the government to tackle the problem headlong.

He also prayed the Senate to come up with stringent measures to tackle the issue in the interest of the country.

Senate Chief Whip Olusola Adeyeye said what is happening is grave and should be halted immediately before it gets out of hand.

Adeyeye lamented that “Nigeria has got to where we were before the Biafran war.”

He noted that the idea of state police has become even more urgent than it was before and should be considered.

Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu who presided, said, “We have said so much regarding this very matter. We have to do this because to the ordinary people of Nigeria, what they know is that we are all in government. There is no difference between the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary. So, we are all held responsible in issues such as these.

“I believe it is important that while the Executive is also making efforts, as parliamentarians, we must be seen to be doing something because the people see all of us as being part of government. We must show some sensibility in matters concerning our people. There are too many men and women in Nigeria today who are frustrated by economic realities and they will make themselves available for any possible mishap that this will give rise to.

“I believe that the earlier we nip this on the bud, the better for all of us. We want a very peaceful country and we will need to work towards that. And as leaders, we must be held responsible if there is breakdown of law and order because the primary purpose of government is the protection of lives and properties of the ordinary people. We must be able to come up with immediate approach to this problem, mid-term and long-term solutions so that people will see that we are interested in their welfare.”

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