By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
Cows in the classroom! Cows in the fields! Cows in the Church! Cows in ancestral sacred lands! Cows in our houses! Cows in the market! Cows on the tarred roads! Cows in the plantation! Cows on our farms! Cows in the streams! Cows on the pedestrian Bridges! Cows on Abuja and Lagos streets! Cows everywhere! Destruction everywhere! Herdsmen on rampage with AK47 among other weapons! Seeking throats to slit, blood to guzzle! Yet grasses are in the bush without cows eating them.
Houses destroyed and burnt. Farm lands destroyed, grazed on and burnt. Women, girls raped, children and men slaughtered, thousands homeless. Maimed citizens in shock! Lifeless bodies everywhere! IDP camps an eyesore. Billions lost to wanton destruction. Any hope? Is it hopeless now President Muhammadu Buhari has returned? Or what do you think? The killings were not only atrocious and grisly but inexcusable as these are innocent citizens. Accuse Buhari of: “I-don't-care attitude, nepotism, sectional, narrow, parochial, and tribalistic'', he is unfazed. Jihadism is on! It's a matter of your land for my cows to graze on, or your blood.
Middle Belt has been conquered. The 'conquest' is now South-East and South- South bound. Islam or nothing! Hundreds of quasi skilled and non-skilled youths have arrived already in these zones atop trailers and dumped to scavenge for life while settling for the future jihadism being awaited. Look around and see them almost everywhere!
Before it was their crops and seedlings that were destroyed by cattle but today their cash crops plantation now serve as feed for the cattle of the herdsmen without their consent. What do we make out of this? This is March 2019 and a new planting season is nigh. The savagery by herdsmen is still on, why?
Human life is indeed worthless to the security agencies that should be protecting their lives judging by the mindless, wicked, ruthless, brutal, unlawful and indefensible massacre of over 480 unarmed and defenseless Igbo citizens and injuring of over 500 others during the military massacre codenamed Python Dance Operations against IPOB members in Eastern Nigeria between 30th August, 2015 and 14th September, 2017, according to Intersociety led by Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi.
Even, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, the umbrella body of Christians through the General Secretary, Musa Asake said Nigeria's security has become dysfunctional but Buhari was not moved. CAN categorically told Buhari that insecurity is threatening the existence of Christians and other innocent citizens in Nigeria, but that was a bark! Is there a vow to wipe off Christian states? Is this not an insult to the Christian community from Buhari who is supposed to protect their lives and property? What a shame!
The horrendous, mindless and inhuman killings since 2013 by herdsmen and Boko Haram to destabilize former President Goodluck Jonathan's presidency till date attest to this. Does it mean Islamists of Northern Nigeria have “legalized jihad” in Nigeria? Are we in a mess really?
Can it be true to say that President Buhari is not running Nigeria according to the dictates of the Democratic values in the Constitution and has no respect for Human Rights, Rule of Law and Democracy? Buhari was sworn into office to uphold and defend the Constitution but has he not flagrantly violated the Constitution and adopted Sharia ideology as operational standard?
Why would murderous Fulani herdsmen enjoy unprecedented protection and favouritism from the security chiefs who most times in recent time are from the North? Is it not curious that they enjoy government protection from counter attack, arrest or prosecution? Why?
The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, MACBAN, a business interest group with Buhari as their Patron sees the killings by herdsmen, its members as a revenge mission and nothing else, justifying mass killing of hapless commuters for missing or stolen cows by Cattle rustlers even if the incident happened 20 years ago. What a shame!
Amnesty International, AI has blamed Federal Government for the killing of 3,641 persons during the clashes between herdsmen and farmers from 2016 to 2018. AI said the Federal Government beyond issuing statements to condemn the attacks, did not do enough to “bring those reasonably suspected of involvement in crimes to justice”. Federal Government failed in “fulfilling its constitutional responsibility of protection of lives and property by refusing to investigate, arrest and prosecute perpetrators of attacks”. What a shame for a country like Nigeria!
Now, the blood is flowing South-East and soon may be a conflagration that will consume South East. Let's take Anambra State as a case study, Ideke Secondary School Iyiowa Odekpe, Ogbaru Council Area was invaded by cows and herdsmen. The school called on the state government to wade into the incessant encroachment of herdsmen and their cattle into the school compound. What do you make out of it?
Cattle and herdsmen were seen in the school compound during the school hours by journalists not hearsay and the Acting Principal of the school, Mrs. Ann Nwosu and a teacher, Mrs. Nkoli Anikpe gave a gory tale of their ordeals in the hands of the herdsmen, confirming it has been a regular occurrence.
They narrated how the children were harassed by the herdsmen and their cattle whenever they were on break. And the worst, herdsmen have threatened them on several occasions when they tried to stop them from encroaching into their compound. What is Governor Willie Obiano waiting for? Obiano is a peace lover, right? Inaction now but when our children are slaughtered, the airwaves would be set ablaze with incessant but unnecessary media buzz.
But, the Anambra State Government has warned against wanton destruction of farmlands resulting from influx of cattle herders into the state. The Government has also, warned against reported incessant attacks and killing of cattle belonging to local herders in one or two communities by hoodlums with its attendant security implications. The Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C-Don Adinuba confirmed reports by both farmers and cattle owners regarding destruction of farmlands and killing of cattle.
The state government introduced conflict resolution committee comprising of the security chiefs for compensation to farmers and herders but what has it achieved? Herdsmen invaded Amanuke Community and some other communities in Awka North destroying their rice and other crops, raping their women but till date no compensation. What proper evaluation and adequate compensation would the people of Amanuke claim they have got since the committee was set up? Nothing! This could apply to other communities.
Does it mean Obiano's Government is interested in being in the good books of the Presidency and that's all, hence all the emphasis is on desist from any form of attack and killing of cows?Obiano's safest and most peaceful state may be in crisis soon if this is not resolved as the farmers don't want the herders and their livestock again. This is where the trouble lies. Obiano's Government is struggling to extricate itself from the understanding of the masses that it is sponsoring herdsmen against its own people as herders massacre farmers in Anambra West, the food basket of the state and erecting mosque for them with one in Awka to please the Presidency. C-Don Adinuba was at his best rejecting the claims as he said it was patently false, as the state government is not in the business of building places of worship, but what of the killings?
Umumbo Community Farmers in Ayamelum Local Government Area of Anambra State are already in bondage in the hands of the herdsmen. They have cried out to Governor Willie Obiano to rescue them from what they termed bondage of herdsmen in the area. They have been holding their youths from going on rampage against the herdsmen for over a period of time, while the herdsmen themselves are still busy unleashing terror on their people by raping their women and robbing law abiding citizens.
The President-General of Umumbo Town Union, Chief Tony Nnaamah spoke at the commissioning ceremony of JOSAN Giant Rice Mills, a subsidiary of Joseph Agro Industries Limited located at Umumbo. Why has Obiano's magic committee failed this people, his people as an Aguleri man? Farmers watch helplessly as the herdsmen's cattle eat up their growing farm produce in many acres of farmlands without considering the plight of the farmers. Shame!
Herdsmen waylaid women, dispossessed them of their valuables, waylaid commercial motorcyclists, took away their bikes, robbed them even macheted and shot at them. Mmiata-Anam in Anambra West council Area of Anambra State led by Igwe Sylvester U Nnose has same story. A community leader, Chief Matthias Ameke confirmed one Alex Nwokoye was butchered to death while waiting for a vehicle to convey him and his fishing gear. He left behind 9 children. Had herdsmen paid any dime for destroying farmers' crops and grains? President General of Innoma Community, Anambra West , Mr Patrick Ugboja and a councilor from Ezi-Anam ward , Hon Sunday Onyeaka said nothing has been paid by herdsmen in the last 5 years Obiano became Governor. Can this be true?
Igwe Nnose decried a situation innocent farmers would be arrested each time there is a faceoff between the farmers and herdsmen. He said some are still in custody months after despite all attempts to get them on bail and that the traditional rulers from Anambra North Senatorial Zone comprising of 7 council areas wrote Obiano asking him to order herdsmen to withdraw from their zone. Is this possible? If no! What next? I pray Obiano to urgently wield into this before more lives would be lost.
What did Governor Obiano do after listening to these mindless tales from a hopeless and hapless people? He appealed to them to exercise patience as the herdsmen were gradually leaving the East in batches and would soon be gone. Is this logical? Shame! Obiano reminded them about the committee on compensation. But I ask, what kind of compensation would you pay to a family who lost their breadwinner by mindless and blood 'sucking' herdsmen? Is cattle now equated to human life? Why can't cattle graze on grasses rather than crops, plantations and farm lands? Why can't the compensation be mandatory as a way to reduce tension and maintain peace if that is Obiano's way? Obiano spoke during the launching of the Emeka Anyoaku Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.
Five years after, who has been compensated? What were their claims of destruction and what was paid? Politics and propaganda should not be used against the people who strive daily to survive without government support. But, is this committee on compensation true or propaganda? People are still being killed in Anambra State by herdsmen. What next?
Obiano even confirmed that herdsmen planned to attack Umungbo after 15 years of killing its 35 cows and two men but the committee intervened and paid N50,000 for each cow and N500,000 for each of the two killed but he was silent on how much paid to the farmers for their crops destroyed. Who else has been paid? Which other community has benefitted? People in Okoti-Odekpe Community in Ogbaru Council Area of the state are weeping. 15 communities in Orumba South Council Area raised an alarm that herdsmen were raping their wives and children. What has changed? Yet, Obiano claims he wakes up all night so that all Ndi Anambra would sleep with their two eyes closed. Your Excellency! Please do something!