South-East governors, traditional rulers and other stakeholders, Wednesday, arose from a security summit in Enugu, asking President Muhammadu Buhari to declare the Fulani herdsmen as terrorists, saying they are dangerous.
The summit had the Anglican Archbishop of Enugu Diocese, Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma and Inspector-General of Police, Mohammad Adamu.
Archbishop Chukwuma said President Buhari has been pampering Fulani herdsmen despite atrocities they have been committing across the country.
Bishop Chukwuma spoke on a day the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo lamented the level of extortion police and army carry out on the people of South East at the numerous checkpoints mounted across Igboland.
Nwodo also asked the Inspector General of police why no commissioner of police of Igbo extraction would not be posted in any of the South East States and called on him to reexamine his postings in the zone.
Both Chukwuma and Nwodo spoke in Enugu at the South East Security Summit organized by the Inspector General of police towards commencing community policing, which the IGP said was the best way to tackles the nation’s security challenges.
This came as the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Wednesday, warned that it should not be provoked into carrying arms by the federal government and its armed forces by firing gunshots in Afaraukwu Umuahia on Friday, February 14, 2020, during the burial of the parents of their leader, Eze Israel Okwu Kanu and his wife Sally Mmeme.
The summit was earlier threatened when Chukwuma protested how the monarchs and other Igbo leaders and stakeholders invited to the summit were abandoned at the venue for over four hours while the governors and the Inspector-General of police were holding the meeting at the Enugu State Government House without anybody informing them what was going.
The protest made Nwodo lead many of the dignitaries, including the monarchs to walk out of the summit. However, words got to the governors of the situation at the venue and they quickly rounded off and came to the venue, apologized and called backed the aggrieved leaders.
Bishop Chukwuma’s grouse
Addressing the summit, shortly after the IGP has made his speech, Bishop Chukwuma who was flanked by other religious leaders told the Inspector General of police and the gathering: “Please, help us tell Mr. President to declare the Fulani herdsmen terrorist in this country. He has pampered them enough. They are dangerous. Our people cannot go to the farm again.
“We are religious leaders and we are saying that what is happening in our country today is very much devastating. Before now, internal security is in the hands of police and external is for the soldiers.
Before you don’t see soldiers on the street but because security has gone out of hand and police becoming inefficient and inadequate soldiers are coming in to help.
“The worst of it now is that today, Rev, Fathers are being kidnapped; religious leaders are in danger and church premises are now in trouble, we begin to ask ourselves, why is it so.
“If this should continue this way and we pray and God sends his angels down, Nigeria will be in confusion. So we want to appeal to you to help us in this strategic effort for peace to reign in our community.
“We, religious leaders don’t want trouble, all we want is peace. We want to support our governors to maintain peace. Their hands are tied down when they are supposed to take security measures because they have to take permission from Abuja before they act.
“Because of the inadequacy of the situation, I wish that the community policing will address the issues. Again, this issue of a rich man having 20 policemen in his home because he reaches should stop; it is making them inadequate to provide security for the masses.
“The number of roadblocks in the Southeast is alarming. From Enugu to Awka, you will meet over 17 checkpoints with police and soldiers and you cannot find such in other zones. Why is our own different from others?
“We are ready to partner with you but you must recognize the traditional rulers, religious leaders to help you out and make your strategy a successful one and stop people from being violent.
“Tell the Fulani herdsmen to stop harassing and kidnapping our leaders. We don’t have money but the grace of God. I want to make it clear, if the so-called Fulani herdsmen continue this way, we are not going to take it likely with them, we will take our own measure and deal with them spiritually and physically”, Bishop Chukwuma warned.
In his remarks, the President-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo also lamented the number of checkpoints in the zone which he said exist for the sole purpose of extorting money from the people.
Welcoming the IGP
“We welcome you to your home South East where you were once a commissioner of Police. I must commend you that during your tenure that some aspects of intellectuality have come back to the police because, in all the time past, no one has given it a thought.
“We are not happy with how you kept us for over 4 hours without hearing from any of you concerning the security summit. Our traditional rulers and other stakeholders have been here waiting. I know it is not in your personality but unfortunate your protocol treated us this way.
“I think what you are planning to do is good but your assumption may not work. In this zone, our people have little or no confidence in the police. Because I once travelled from Enugu to Onitsha and recorded 17 checkpoints with soldiers and police and there was no disguise what they were told to do it.
“The former GOC dismounted one at Oji River axis. In all these checkpoints, they are using children at the ages of 14,16,17 to collect money from the motorists while they are there playing draft. Why our own like this? There is another one at Ozalla in Igbo Etiti Local Government Area.
“The road safety’s (FRSC) own is the worst. The way we are treated here will make you get the impression that we are not recognized in this country. If you bring the best community policing organization here with the impression they already have it, it is useless.
“Our farmers are devastated and the herders carry AK47 openly without being persecuted by the police. The one that happened at Benue Catholic Church was done openly. They danced with the head of those they killed and was recorded, transmitted to all the social media with everything to recognize them but nothing was done.
“Our people conceived that there is one law for us and another law for the others. If there is anything you can do for us, it is to give instruction that any one you get exploiting people, collecting bribe from them, that you will expel him/her.
“The restiveness of our youths has reached its limit. The situation now is that Igbo people are conquered people. There is a limit you will push a man to the wall and he will retaliate. There is not one commissioner of police in the south east that is Igbo man. How can you
talk about community policing while the people you want to use to work with our people do not know the language or know the terrain?
“We have many officers in the Nigerian Police, Army, Civil Defence or what have you. Why is our place targeted for posting of non-indigenes to head every security agency?
“I want to plead with you, re-examine the posting you make here. All our leaders are finding it difficult to stop the anger of our people. I am happy that when you were naming our problems, you made mention of the restiveness of our youths. Our children have reached their limit. Our governors are the chief security of their states because section 14 of the constitution gives them the right to protect the lives and properties of their people.
“When you start sharing the head of security with commanders, controllers and whatever, and you do not include the governors, head of community, religious leaders; the exercise is dead on arrival. These commanders and controllers are coming to dilute our local security.
Without community policing, we know all the thieves in our community. If you bring this community policing and bring the usual police administration without given the governors and community leaders the authority, it is dead on arrival.
“What our people want is to hold our domestic security. There must be a way the government will allow us to have our Ogbunigwe security. We will respect the law but allow our security to be independent,” Nwodo said.
The governors at the summit agreed with the IGP on community policing, adding they will key into it.