The relative peace that the South East geo-political zone has enjoyed for sometime now appears to have come under threat. Consequently, attention and discussions by residents have suddenly shifted to the security of the zone.The development followed a statement allegedly from the leadership of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) last week, which claimed that the zone would soon be under attack following the refusal of their leaders to approve land for cattle breeding.
Leader of the group, Alhaji Gidado Siddiki allegedly expressed shock in the serious manner in which governors in the zone vehemently refused to give members of the group land for cattle business. Siddiki was quoted to have expressed surprise at the development considering what he termed the cordial relationship that had existed in the zone between the group and the five state governments.
He reportedly said that since the governors were claiming to be “stubborn” and had refused to give them their land in peace, “it will be taken by force and the entire South East would be raided and taken over by herdsmen.”Siddiki, in the alleged statement was equally quoted as saying that his organisation’s advocacy for peaceful coexistence among indigenous farmers and herdsmen was increasingly making successes in the South East adding, “This explains our surprise at the latest stand of the governors, which if implemented, will not only frustrate our people from carrying out our legitimate livestock rearing business in this part of the country, but might be suggestive of a kind of suspicion that might undermine the neutrality of the claim of brotherhood.”
He was also quoted as asking the governors to provide “exemplary leadership” by accommodating other Nigerians in their midst who are engaged in their legitimate economic pursuits.No sooner had the alleged statement gone out than a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State was quoted as urging Ndigbo to provide grazing routes to the herdsmen for peace to reign.
He reportedly said: “Look, people have misunderstood what the Fulani herdsmen are asking for. The herdsmen are only asking for empty lands, bushes, forests or you may choose to call it anything you like.“What they are not asking for is your house. They stay in the bush while you enjoy yourself in the comfort of your house. How would there be a problem? Allow these men to be…For instance, do you know that one single cattle colony in the South East will solve a lot of problems for the herdsmen?”
However, Siddiki while speaking to newsmen in Awka, Anambra State, on June 4, denied issuing any threat, stressing that there was no truth in the reports, which he claimed were orchestrated to cause crisis in the zone.Hear him: “Few days ago, we woke up to a malicious publication on a social media platform purporting a phantom statement in Abuja entitled, “South East Will Boil Any Moment From Now Because Of Their Stubbornness, which was ascribed to the leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, erroneously assigned to me.
“My mission here is simply to expose the lie in the mischievous publication. First, while it is my wish to inform the public that Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria did not make any statement to the effect of the content of the publication, either in Abuja or anywhere for that matter, I humbly would wish to correctly place my designation as the Chairman of South East Zone of the Association.”
He said the publication, which referred to him as, “the leader of cattle breeders in Nigeria” was another means of knowing that the interview was not granted by him. He insisted that MACBAN in the zone has a warm relationship with host governors, and that their host communities have also been in good terms with them, despite minor issues that arise from time-to-time, which were instantly resolved.
“We wish to put it on record that the South East Zone of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and her cattle herder members whom I serve as the zonal chairman enjoys warm relationship with the governors, governments and people of South East Nigeria.
“I wish to state that this warmth has not been completely devoid of flashes of momentary conflicts at few locations. Such instances were however promptly addressed by the authorities and warm communality restored amongst the people.
“Given the increasing orientation and reorientation of our people and the locals, who are our landlords here, and given the strong commitment of the state governors to peaceful relationship across board, one habours no doubt that the relationship between our herders and their landlords can only be increasingly better as time progresses.
“It is therefore my intention, while dispelling the published rumour from the pit of malicious mischief, to share my upbeat spirit with all of us. It is my utmost belief that the sincere and committed understanding we all propagate today will yield us minimal rancour, if not rancor-free society tomorrow,” he stated.
DESPITE the denials that followed the alleged MACBAN statement, Ndigbo appear very unsettled. Consequently, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, individuals and several other Igbo groups have continued to react in different ways to the development.
While some want the herdsmen chased away from the zone, others have warned of the implication of accepting the vexatious statement hook, line and sinker. Ohanaeze Ndigbo, however, appears not ready to gamble with the statement as it convoked a meeting of its National Executive Committee (NEC) within the week, where it dared the Miyetti Allah to make good their threat.
President General of the Ohanaeze, Chief Nnia Nwodo, who conveyed the decision of the meeting, stated that, “Ndigbo are waiting for them.”
While stressing that Ndigbo has taken cognizance of the “assertion and denial of Miyetti Allah” about the zone boiling in the nearest future, Nwodo asked residents to be “vigilant and reactivate their local defence outfits.“Await our next directives after consultation with our political and religious leaders, legislators, traditional rulers, town unions and affiliate organisations,” Nwodo told Ndigbo.
Ohanaeze’s anger and reaction to the threat might not be unconnected with the alleged indifference that the Federal Government had shown to previous warnings by the group and many others, which eventually turned out to claim many casualties.It indicated that it would be foolhardy for Ndigbo to wave the threat aside going by the experiences various parts of the country have had in the hands of herdsmen, who had either attacked without a warning, or had warned before unleashing terror and actions taken by the Federal Government and security agencies before then.
“That was how Benue communities were attacked. Didn’t we watch as such a group like Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore addressed a press conference where they called on Fulani herdsmen across West Africa to invade Benue and resist the implementation of the Anti-open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017?
“Didn’t we watch them follow up their threat with action and attacks on innocent Benue people in 2018 where more than 73 people were killed in one day? What happened even when the state governor called for the arrest of the leadership of the group and led a delegation to the President? The fact is that there seems to be loss of confidence in the Federal Government’s handling of security in the country. While it has continued to handle these herdsmen going about with arms with kids gloves, those who don’t carry arms are dumped inside prisons, especially in the South East.
“Did it not happen in Plateau State and Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Adamawa, Ekiti, Zamfara, Ondo and others? Nimbo Community in Uzouwani, Enugu State was attacked with various casualties after warning from herdsmen. There has not been any serious attempt made to apprehend those behind it, despite evidence produced in the matter, Nwodo said.
Ohanaeze, in calling on residents to be prepared, reviewed the security situation in the country and noted with great disappointment, the collapse of national security as reflected by the continuous failure of the Federal Government to confront the situation.
“A Muslim militant group with all the features and characteristics of ISIS is invading parts of northern Nigeria, capturing district heads, stealing and rampaging in various communities and forcing Nigerians in these areas to flee from their homes, in some cases, away to neighbouring countries.
“In Kaduna and other parts of the Middle Belt, Miyetti Allah and their militant herdsmen have continued to kill, maim and destabilise Christian areas with very little containment of these attackers by our national security forces.“In the South East and South West, kidnapping of several indigenes including priests, reveals a huge network of armed herdsmen camped in various bushes and farms, making movement impossible for the locals. What is disturbing is that very few arrests, seizures of arms or prosecution have been made in all these cases,” Ohanaeze said.
In their reaction also, the indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) stated that the development was an indication that the “ Islamisation and Fulanisation agenda to forcibly convert and dominate all non-Fulani ethnic groups in the country, through the instrumentality of Fulani Cattle Breeders Association” was real.
“Nigerians can pretend as they like, but the truth remains that all four major terror organisations in West Africa are financed and run by their people. Miyetti Allah is the parent body of the dreaded killer Fulani herdsmen, the fourth and most deadly terror group in the world, and no amount of media clampdown can erase this fact,” IPOB said in a statement by Emma powerful, its media and publicity secretary.Powerful stated that the group was in support of the latest move by the former Chief of Army Staff, General T.Y Danjuma (rtd) to report the Islamisation move of the Federal Government to the British Parliament.
“The recent outburst by former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and latest move of reaching out to the British Parliament by elders of the Middle Belt in the persons of the Retired General T. Y Danjuma is an indication that Nigeria is an unworkable entity and cannot exist as presently constituted. We seem to have forgotten that Nigeria was not created by Africans, or Nigerians, but by British Merchants, who saw it a mere economic asset, rather than a viable country.
“Britain deliberately handed over power to Fulani oligarchy on October 1, 1960 to suffocate other indigenous populations through a carefully orchestrated political and economic emasculation.“Ordinary Nigerians and politicians must know that Nigeria is on the road to perdition. What is coming will consume everybody, including of those that mocked IPOB.
“Middle Belt nationalities, serious Yoruba groups and the Christian North are advised not to relent in the collective effort to stop this latest attempt to slaughter millions into submission. IPOB will always be at the forefront of this historic move to liberate all the oppressed people in Nigeria,” the group said.
Meanwhile, an Igbo group, Voice From The East (VEAST) last year revealed that it had discovered hideouts where herdsmen kill and rape innocent Nigerians in the zone.The discovery according to the Convener of group, Comrade Kindness Jonah, followed an indepth investigative study on the hideouts of Fulani herdsmen in Igbo Land.
The group’s study result, which was made available to journalists in Enugu, listed the forests to include: Abia State – Lokpanta, Leeru, Nkpa, Ohafia, Bende, Ubakala and Owerrenta. In Imo State, it listed Okigwe, Amakohia-Ubi, Ntu, Umuowa, Iheagwa, Ulagwu, Oweri- Town, Mbaitoli, Mbaise, Oguta, Orlu, Amaigbo, Onuimo, Isiekenesi, Njaba, Ideato and Mbano.
Locations in Anambra State, where the herdsmen are alleged to be perpetrating illegality include, Nteje, Ogbunka, Ufuma, Ezira, Umunze, Umuchukwu, Akpu, Ndikelionwu, Ogboji, Ndiowu,Anam, Achala, Ebenebe, Ogbunike, Osina, Okija, Ihiala, Ukpo, Dunukofia, Agulu, Neni, Ogbu and 3-3, while in Enugu State the locations are Ibite Ogbaku, Akpugoze, Achi, Amansii, Nachi, Ukpabi-Nimbo, Ukpata, Akegbe- Ugwu, Ugwuoba, Eka-Aku, Igbo-Etiti, Amagunze, Amaechi Idodo, Ugwu–Onyeama, Egede, Adada, Nkpologwu, Afa, Opanda, Uvuru Uzo Uwani, Adani, Ugwu–Aboh, Waziri Estate–Nsukka, Enugu- Ezike, Neke- Uno, Akpogasi, Ugwogo, Ekpebe, Maradona University Layout, Ihuokpa- 3- Corner, Akwuke, Industrial Layout -Emene, Unity Lay out Ibagwa Nike, City Layout –Amokwe, , Heritage Layout – Oyoho- Nike, Odo Rice–Emene, New Zion State Layout Ugwu Onyeama, Phase 11, Independence Layout, Four-corner, Redemption Layout Amokpo, Ugbaka – Nkanu, Aninri and Awgu.
Listed in Ebonyi State where locations in Emoha, Nkalagu, Afikpo, Ezii, Ezaa, Ezamgbo, Ukpo, Ekemoha, Akpoha, Abomege, and Onicha. VEAST reiterated its earlier position that the zone had been surrounded by herdsmen, whose only mission was to create crisis with the hope of taking full possession of Igbo Land. The group, however, stated that it was not afraid of the moves and called on Ndigbo to be cautious even as it warned that Ndigbo would not fold their hands to watch any of its territories being attacked.