•Warns against anarchy
The Igbo Youth Movement (IYM) and Igbo Women Assembly (IWA) have warned that Nigeria might soon slid into anarchy unless concrete measures are taken to curb the atrocities of herdsmen who invade communities and turn their farmlands into grazing fields for their cows.
Speaking on the heels of the recent arrest and detention in prison custody for 15 days of 76 Awgu farmers following a clash with herdsmen, the groups accused the Nigerian Army of providing protective cover for the invading herdsmen.
“It is important to remind the leaders of Nigeria today, that the termites that eat up the foundation that led to the eventual collapse of the great wall are usually overlooked because they are usually very small creatures.
“If the brigandage and bloody rampage of the Fulani herdsmen is not quickly tamed, then the international community will have no other choice, than to conclude, that all men of consequence have been cowed and silenced by the new sheriff in town as Nigeria totters at the edge of the precipice,” the IYM stated in a statement signed by its founder, Evangelist Elliot Uko.
The civil society organisations demanded immediate investigation of the role of the Army in the conflict, insisting that the officer who authorized the arrest of the farmers should be sanctioned.
This, according to them, has become necessary following the earlier position of the Army that it was “fake soldiers” that carried out the operation, contrary to the confirmation by the Abia State Police Command that the villagers were actually arrested by the Army and handed over to the Police.
The farmers were protesting the continued destruction of their crops by cows when they were arrested by “men in military uniform” who bundled them to Umuahia, where they were detained in prison cell for 15 days until they were grated bail last Friday.
IYM who is also the leader of South East Democratic Coalition, said that the role of the Army in the arrest and detention of the farmers portrayed it as working for the Fulanis against other ethnic groups.
This, IYM said, “was a clear signal that the Army is totally owned by the Fulanis”.
The statement read in part: “The disturbing silence of the powers that be over the strange arrest is seriously turning into an early seed for total break down of law and order.
“The ominous development at Ugwuneshi community on 17th March 2016 sends a very strong signal that some people own the Army and that they brazenly use it as an army of occupation.
“It is instructive that the Fulani herdsman did not invite the Nigerian Police. They had more confidence in the Army, which they know, they wholly own.”
IYM called for the investigation and prosecution of all those behind the ordeals of the poor farmers who were detained in prison custody for over two weeks.
“Government should punish the officer who speedily deployed the soldiers who came in several trucks to round up the 76 men and whisked them away, to the jubilation of the Fulani herdsmen”.
IYM further contended that should the Federal Government fail to sanction all the officers and men involved in the questionable operation, the predictions by the detained Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu that Fulani herdsmen would seize the South East, South South and Middle Belt, would have been vindicated.
“Today, the activities of Fulani herdsmen have confirmed Kanu, a prophet and a hero with a huge fanatical following,” IYM said.
IYM also accused the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu in whose constituency the raid occurred of inaction and cowardice.
“The silence of the Federal Government in all of these, remains worrisome, the silence of South East political leaders, especially the deputy senate president in whose constituency this humiliation occurred becomes heart-rending to all”.
Similarly, IWA vowed to resist the “sheer arrogance and impunity” of Fulani herdsmen and their sponsors in the South East. “The humiliating display of sheer arrogance (by herdsmen) cannot be accepted by any self-respecting people”.
IWA in a statement issued at the weekend after an emergency meeting in Enugu, said “this madness and naked display of power and arrogance by the Fulani herdsmen and their cousins in the Army, who see the Army as an appendage of Fulani hegemony must stop”.
The statement signed by its leader, Chief Mrs. Mariah Okwor, further said that the arrest of the 76 Awgu farmers plus other atrocities of herdsmen in South East have continued to cause “trepidation, anguish and uncontrollable pain in the hearts of our people”.
Warning that Fulani herdsmen pose more threat to Nigeria than Boko Haram, IWA called for urgent action against the menace “before it goes out of control”.