• We fled into bush, ran to Enugu as Fulani attacked our communities – Residents
• Igbo apex body demands strict enforcement of open grazing ban in South-East
SUSPECTED Fulani herdsmen who unleashed mayhem in three communities; Obeagu, Egedegede, and Nkaleha on Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State have reportedly fled the state, but not without leaving behind vital clue, which has been discovered by the police.
The PUNCH learnt that police and other security agencies were closing in on the Fulani herdsmen who gruesomely murdered 16 residents of Obeagu and other neighbouring communities in the state.
The assailant were said to have left traces at the scenes of the incident when they were horridly leaving the community.
A security source, who disclosed the development to our correspondent, noted that some items the assailants left behind were collected on Tuesday during the on-the-spot assessment by the security agencies and government officials.
“As I speak with you, the police and other security agencies were profiling some items the assailants left behind while they were leaving the scene. I can you that some of their sponsors have been identified through those traces and closing on the sponsors,” the source told one of our correspondents.
The spokesman for the Ebonyi State Police Command, Loveth Odah, who spoke with our correspondent, confirmed that very soon, the perpetrators would be unmasked.
Ohanaeze demands strict enforcement of open grazing ban in S’East
Meanwhile, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide condemned the gruesome murder of innocent citizens across Igbo land by AK-47-wielding Fulani herdsmen.
It urged South-East governors to immediately inaugurate and activate the security measures to enforce the ban on open grazing.
Ohanaeze President General, Prof. George Obiozor, in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, said, “It is most unfortunate that the Federal Government ignores the call by Ohanaeze Ndigbo that Nigeria should be restructured such that, among other benefits, the command structure of the security network in each state should be able to respond to the peculiar security challenges of the people.
“Based on the above backdrop, Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide calls on the South-East governors to urgently inaugurate and activate the South-East Security measures to enforce the ban on open grazing.
South-East under siege by Fulani herdsmen –CAN
Also, the Christian Association of Nigeria declared that the South-East was under siege, describing as “gruesome and unwarranted” the killing of 16 persons in Obeagu community, Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State by Fulani herdsmen.
A communique signed by the Chairman of CAN in the South-East, Bishop Goddy Okafor, said the Christian body was shocked over the level of carnage in Ebonyi State “to the extent that human beings were slaughtered like chickens by persons whose identities were not hidden.”
CAN equally said the latest killings should serve as a wake-up call to the South-East governors as “it now appears that the zone is indeed under siege as no day passes by without one form of similar incident or the other.”
We fled into bush, ran to Enugu as Fulani attacked our communities – Residents
Recounting her ordeal, a 25-year-old native of Obeagu community, one of the affected communities, Angela Osinachi, said on the day of the attack, about four herdsmen were seen by some children moving about in the forest ahead of the attack.
She said, “Some elders told them (children) not to say so and that they (Fulani herdsmen) could be some forest guards from Enugu. But as we were just contemplating that evening, we started to hear sounds of gunshots here and there.
“That was when people started running helter-skelter for their lives. That night, we ran and ran through the bush to Enugu State from Ebonyi State.
Some even slept in the bush that night. Those people killed many people and destroyed some property. They really dealt with us. Many people were killed.
Another member of the community, 77-year-old Mrs Rosemary Ozara, said, “It was on Monday evening. We, as village people, were preparing to cook night food and some had even finished cooking and were about to sleep, when all of a sudden, we began to hear gunshots from everywhere.
“Then we started running and kept running through the bushes until we got to Ehamufu in Enugu State. We just got back to this village to get some food to eat.
“About 20 persons were killed in this community and not talking about those from Enugu, who were travelling through the community from other cities,” he said.
Umahi shedding crocodile tears – Group
Meanwhile, a right group based in South-East, the Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, also known as Intersociety, has berated Governor Umahi of Ebonyi State over the killing of 16 persons by Fulani herdsmen in Obeagu community, Ishielu LGA of the state.
Intersociety in a statement titled, ‘Ebonyi Fulani jihadist killings: Gov Umahi is shedding crocodile tears’, signed by the principal officers: Emeka Umeagbalasi, Obianuju Igboeli, Chidimma Udegbunam and Samuel Kamanyaoku, blamed the attack on the governor for not being proactive.
The statement read in part, “Intersociety therefore makes bold to say that Umahi, who visited the affected communities reportedly in mourning mood, is clearly shedding of crocodile tears.”
Killer herdsmen have fled Enonyi community, but we know them
Reacting, the Ebonyi State Government said herdsmen, who attacked Obeagu, Egedegede, Nkaleha communities in the Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, on Monday night, had fled the communities.
But the State Government reiterated that it had traces of those who unleashed such mayhem in the three hitherto peaceful communities of the state.
The Commissioner for Internal Security and Border Peace, Chief Stanley Okoro-Emegha, stated this in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Wednesday.
Okoro-Emegha said, “This incident was carried out by Fulani herdsmen and you should know that there is a boundary between Ebonyi State and Enugu State. So, by the time we got there, the perpetrators had already left. We will and by the special grace of God unravel those behind the attacks.
“Good enough, we know those who did it, because one of them called and that phone number is still ringing. Umahi cannot be said to be shedding crocodile tears because the life of every Ebonyian means a lot to him. We must do all we can to fish those people out, no matter who they are and where they come from.”
Meanwhile, the state government said about 600 soldiers would be deployed to crisis-torn communities of the state to keep surveillance and arrest attacks going on those communities.
Aside that, it said was it equally billed to establish two Mobile Police units in the communities, adding that about 100 personnel of the Ebonyi State Security Neighbourhood Watch had been drafted to man each local government area of the state.
The Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Mr Uchenna Orji, stated this while briefing journalists after the Executive Council Security meeting, at the Old Government House Abakaliki, on Wednesday.
Orji said, “EXCO frowned very seriously on the killings at Egedegede, Obeagu and Nkaleha communities in Ishielu Local Government Area. The governor had visited the scene yesterday (Tuesday) and demanded justice for the victims from the security agencies. The LGA chairmen were directed to form local vigilante and put cross bars at strategic locations.”
Ebonyi massacre: S’East senators demand arrest, group knocks Umahi
In a related development, the South-East caucus in the Senate has asked the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to ensure the immediate arrest of the perpetrators of the massacre.
The communities were attacked by suspected Fulani killed about 15 residents while many others, mostly women, were declared missing.
The South-East senators in a statement by their leader, Ike Ekweremadu, on Wednesday condemned the act and declared that the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had failed in its constitutional responsibilities.
“The South-East caucus of the Senate has charged the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, and heads of the nation’s security agencies to expeditiously fish out those responsible for the recent killing of natives in Ebonyi State communities, insisting it must not go unsolved and unpunished like others before it.
“This act is mostd unfeeling and gruesome; and we condemn it in totality. But more importantly, this must not go unpunished like others before it.
“It is imperative to warn that the Nigerian state is fast delegitimising itself by its failure to discharge the primary purpose of government, which is security and welfare of the people, as clearly prescribed in Section 14 of the 1999 Constitution,” the statement read in part.