Few days ago, President Bola Tinubu argued courageously on the need for the establishment of a regional counter-terrorism centre that will serve as a hub for intelligence sharing, operational coordination, and capacity building throughout Africa. The President spoke against the backdrop of the pervasive tendencies of terrorism in many parts of the continent and the attendant costs in human and material resources.

According to Tinubu, terrorism’s harm is felt far and wide for the very reason that it has no respect for national boundaries, ethnic bloodlines or religious creeds. “We must, therefore, fight this threat together, combining determined national efforts with well-tailored regional and international collaboration”, he pleaded.

Those were fine remarks which on the surface, were enough to earn the president the status of concerned African statesman. But while Tinubu lectured on security in Africa, Nimbo community in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State, is in serious pains, counting its losses from a recent Fulani herdsmen attack. The invasion which took place on Sunday, April 28, left many dead and others wounded. Various figures have been posted on the number of victims.

But the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze, has identified four of the dead. These were Okeh Oruku, Okeh Chukwuemeka, Julius Odiegwu, and Gabriel Ezea. They were attacked while mourning one of their own at Ugwuijoro Nimbo community.

This is not the first time such mayhem would be visited on Nimbo. In 2016, about 40 persons were reportedly killed in the same community by suspected Fulani herdsmen. Seven villages (Nimbo Ngwoko, Ugwuijoro, Ekwuru, Ebor, Enugu Nimbo, Umuome and Ugwuachara) were among the areas attacked. Ten residential houses and a church, Christ Holy Church International, aka Odozi Obodo, were also burnt by the herdsmen. Vehicles and motorcycles were destroyed and domestic animals killed by the marauders.

The shocking aspect of the invasion was how the hoodlums outsmarted the security agencies in the state before unleashing their attack. The then governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, had narrated how on Sunday, April 24, 2016, by 7 pm, the night before the carnage took place, he got security information from Uzo-Uwani Local Government Transition Chairman, that such an incident was likely to take place.

According to him, based on the information, he summoned a meeting of the State Security Council that was attended by the Garrison Commander who represented the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division Nigerian Army; the Commissioner of Police; the State Director of Department State Security Services (DSS); the State Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps; representatives of the Nigerian Air force, Federal Road Safety Corps and Nigerian Prison Services, who attended as observers. Ugwuanyi claimed that at the meeting, he received assurances from the Commissioner of Police that the Area Commander of SARS was on ground in Nimbo, in addition to the Anti-Terrorism Unit.

Related News

Despite the assurances and the impression given of the state being on top of the situation, in the early hours of Monday, April 25, 2016, reports of the massacre broke out. More disturbing was that the attack of innocent and defenceless citizens were carried out at about 6.30 am, without the state and security agencies lifting a finger.

At the site of the mayhem, Ugwuanyi was captured on camera, crying like a baby. The next day, he hurried to a meeting at Aso Rock with the then President, Muhammadu Buhari, who issued directives that the perpetrators of the heinous crime must be fished out and dealt with accordingly. But that was where it all ended.

At the burial of the over 40 victims, there was no federal government presence. It even took the Presidency clear two days to release a statement on the attack, pledging justice to the victims, that was not effected. Apart from Ugwuanyi the host, other South East governors and politicians went their separate ways. No arrest nor trial of the brains behind the attack was made. Nimbo was left to mourn its dead members and carry its can.

Eight years after, the community is passing through similar painful route. That is what happens when certain groups or individuals commit crimes and are allowed to go unpunished. That is an extreme form of indulgence in which one is allowed to carry on with particular bad habit without bothering at how it affects others.

Aside other incidences of criminality, especially the Boko Haram insurgency that we have had to contend with since 2009, the immediate challenge facing the country, is the menace of the Fulani herdsmen. Apart from Enugu, the states in the North Central, South East and some parts of South West, are experiencing the impacts of their menace.

How and why the government looks the other way while the group keeps drawing blood and inflicting pains on other citizens, remains strange. If you read impunity on the side of the actors or allege tacit connivance on the part of the state, you may not be wrong.

Section 14(2) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) is emphatic that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. In Nimbo, Enugu community and other settlements in Benue, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Anambra, Kogi, Edo, Ogun, Oyo, Plateau and Nasarawa where the criminal Fulani pastoralists have killed and maimed other Nigerians and escaped unpunished, the government has failed in its primary function.

Prof Chinua Achebe captured it that “The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There’s nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character”, adding, “The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership”.  The problem with the government keeping blind eyes on the activities of the marauding Fulani herders in Nimbo, is that it may be difficult to estimate how the people may fight back when they feel that that they have been sufficiently pressed to the wall.

Ohanaeze Ndigbo is right in describing the Nimbo the killings as “a heinous and deliberate assault on its people, particularly those living in boundary communities.” It has therefore called on South East governors to come up with proactive measures to forestall another attack in any community in the zone. That is the least the people expect of their leaders, not shedding crocodile tears. There must be an end to the unprovoked Fulani herdsmen attack on Nimbo and other communities in Igbo land.