NEWSMASTER – The pan Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo yesterday warned the Federal Government of a looming anarchy in the country if the nuisance of Fulani herders were not checked.
In an open letter to the Inspector-General of Police, Ohanaeze accused herdsmen of declaring war against the Igbo.
The letter titled: “The Road to Anarchy”, and personally signed by Chief John Nnia Nwodo, President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, was made available to journalists in Enugu.
Ohanaeze pointedly made reference to an incident that recently took place at Umuawulu Community in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State where the villagers saw four Fulani boys openly displaying six Ak-47 rifles.
Nwodo asked Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to intervene to avert danger, saying that no nation survives two civil wars without consequences.
The letter also chronicled how Fulani leaders in Anambra State staged a walk out on community leaders and security agencies, and dared the people to do their worst, during a meeting to address the open display of the firearms by the herdsmen.
Ohanaeze said that Ndigbo were law abiding people, but would not fold their arms and watch as killer herdsmen continue to kill, rape, maim and destroy their farms.
“It is with a heart full of trepidation and responsibility that Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide brings to your notice a potentially explosive situation in Anambra State of Nigeria.
“The people of Umuawulu Community in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State saw four Fulani boys with six Ak-47 rifles slung on their shoulders and riding two motorcycles and trailed them to Isiagu Community also in Awka South LGA where they reside. When the news of the brazen wielding of firearms spread across the council area, as law-abiding citizens, the stakeholders there convened a crucial meeting with the police and Fulani leaders in the state and raised the matter for deliberation.
“The stakeholders told the Fulani leaders in the presence of men of the State Investigation and Intelligence Bureau (SIIB), Awka, that they were alarmed and surprised that their boys were flagrantly displaying arms in the public, unmindful of the legal implications of unlawful possession of firearms.
“The stakeholders expressed disappointment that security agencies did not make any attempt to arrest the offending Fulani boys, adding that if it were Igbo boys, they would have been arrested, tortured and charged to court.
“But rather than explain what led to the carrying of arms by the boys, or even apologise on behalf of the boys, the Fulani leaders told the stakeholders to do their worst and walked out on them, saying that their boys must always bear arms to protect themselves against religious, ethnic or tribal attacks from any quarters, and there is nothing anybody can do,” the letter reads.
Ohanaeze stressed that the incident took place in the presence of law enforcement agents and nothing was done to arrest either the Fulani boys or their leaders for overtly declaring war on the people of Anambra State.
The letter further read: “The Inspector General of Police sir, Ohanaeze Ndigbo is alarmed by this wanton act because of the danger it portends. This raises the following questions: Is the bearing of unlicensed firearms (especially sophisticated ones like Ak-47) no longer illegal and therefore punishable in breach of the laws of this country?
“Do we now have different laws for different ethnic groups in Nigeria? If it were to be members of IPOB or any other group other than Fulani that bear such illegal arms, what fate would befall them?
“Does the impetuous action and utterance of the Fulani leaders not show a clear and definite invitation to anarchy? If everybody in this country, irrespective of tribe, carries such firearms to protect himself, will the security agencies be able to contain the mayhem that will ensue?
“Can the IGP imagine what fate that would have befallen any Igbo leaders in any part of the North who dare challenge their hosts and the police with such impunity and callousness?
“Mr. Inspector General of Police sir, Ohanaeze Ndigbo believes that there is enough tension in the country already. But it is only a tree that they tell it will be cut down and it remains motionless waiting for the axe. The principle of self-defence is even enshrined in the statutes of the country. Peaceful coexistence is a prerequisite for development.
“The police are by statute empowered, equipped and expected to make peace between two warring factions and not to take sides or protect one group. The action of the police in Anambra State is, to say the least, despicable and a tacit invitation to anarchy.
“Except a coward, nobody will ever run away from his fatherland and leave it for another to occupy. Ndigbo are not cowards.”
The apex Igbo group said the behaviour of the police probably explained why it was only police commissioners from a particular part of the country that are posted to Igbo land.
Ohanaeze said that this also tends to lay credence to the fears being harboured by Ndigbo that even the military laying siege to Igbo land are there to protect the interest of an ethnic group.
“Not only have Ndigbo been marginalised in this country, they are even being pushed to the brink. It is always said that no country survives a second civil war.
“Like I always say, Ndigbo are ever capable of defending themselves. They will not fold their arms and allow gun totting marauding Fulani herdsmen to continue harassing, raping, maiming and killing them in their own homes. We are law-abiding, hospitable and always ready to coexist with others as friends and brothers, but not as foes and at a supreme price. Enough is enough