•They should leave our lands-- Umuada Uzo-Uwani.
•We don't have lands for grazing reserve-- Clerics.
•I’ll register for my own machine gun-- Bishop Chukwuma.
•I joined Biafra army because I watched them cut open my brother's stomach-- Cleric
•They’ll not go unpunished-- Gov Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
Angered by the recent invasion and massacre of the people of Nimbo/Ukpabi community in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu state, the Umuada Nimbo(first daughters of Nimbo community), under the aegis of Southeast Christian Association of Nigeria(CAN) on 12th May, 2016, stormed the streets of Enugu shouting out their grievances and carrying placards with various inscriptions such as; “Umuada Nimbo are mourning,” “Fulani must go,” “We say ‘NO’ to the islamization of the East,” “We say no to grazing Bill,” “No more Suya, No more Kunu,” “Who gave guns to Fulanis,” amongst others.
The protest which was joined by BIAFRA WRITERS/TV kicked off at 10:00 in the morning from Michael Okpara Square where South-easterners and some from South-South of Christian faith converged, had a high number of clergymen in attendance including the Archbishop of Enugu Anglican Diocese, Emmanuel Chukwuma and the Southeast CAN Chairman, Reverend Eberechukwu, amongst others.
|Umuada Uzo-Uwani Marching To Government House|
In a key note address to the Governor in which copies was made available to him, the address read thus:
“Within a peaceful protest rally by the Christian Association of Nigeria(CAN), against the menace of Fulani herdsmen and other related matters especially on 12th May, 2016 at Uzo-Uwani, Enugu.
His Excellency, beloved brethren and good people of Enugu state, we have set out from our various churches, businesses, works and homes to march through the streets of Enugu to express our deep heart grievances and pray against the clear dictates of the devil against Enugu state, our Christian faith, our Igbo nation and Southeast in general.
Your Excellency, the proposed bill for grazing reserve for Fulani herdsmen or in any form is totally unacceptable to us. Our lands is not for private business of the Fulani herdsmen, let that be implemented in the North. We ask the Federal government to refrain from passing the bill because from the public outcry, if passed, will be a source of major problem in Nigeria.
|Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma Addressing Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi|
The role of some security personnel in Enugu state must be reviewed your Excellency for a lot has taken place already and Southeast in general have been encouraging those things.
Maiming and destroying of lives and properties of our people is condemnable. They should be brought to book. We thank those who are doing their work accordingly, they should be commended.
|Protesters At Michael Okpara Square Before heading To Govt House|
Enugu state must be peaceful, progressive and be protected from all vices of the enemy.
We must commend the Governor of Enugu state, his Excellency, Rt. Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Gburu gburu, for his stewardship in this period of crises, he has not abandoned his people. We strongly commend you for this wonderful path of peace and recourse to God through prayers. All of us will continue to pray and support you. God must hear our prayers. Amen.
He continued, Brethren today, we are saying that those who are behind the killing of our people in the name of cattle rearing should be brought to book, impunity must stop in Enugu state, Southeast, South-South and the country in general in any form. We pray that the reign of Governor Ugwuanyi and his team shall bring peace, purity, and hope to the glory of God.
|Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi Comes Out To Address Protesters|
We urge all well-meaning individuals to rise and pray for peace and the people of Enugu state for consolation. The Fulani herdsmen should stop their impunity and let us live in peace.
Lives are sacred and cannot be exchanged with cows, grievances should be treated with urgency and seriousness, we need peace and such shall reign in Enugu state in Jesus' name.
May God bless Enugu state.
May God bless CAN.
May God bless Southeastern region”
The Bishop of Enugu Anglican Diocese and Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province, Enugu, Rt. Reverend Emmanuel Chukwuma who spoke to the governor after the address, said that the rally was agreed in consonance of all the protest in Southeast and that what is happening now is also taking place in all the Southeastern region. He stated that it is to let known that we are ready in the fight against this barbarism. He said if he had instructed all the Christians in Enugu to come out for the protest, he would have seen what will happen, “but because we want peace and protection, I think our intentions have been made known.”
He further stated that what has happened, if they should compensate those in the Northeast, then they should also compensate Enugu state because those properties destroyed and everything that was lost belonged to the people. "So all the money they have earmarked for compensation should also be sent to Enugu state to assist the governor in helping the people who suffered in the hands of the herdsmen and whom their properties was destroyed" he said.
He noted that though that cannot replace what they have lost or suffered but to compensate them is very important.
He tasked the governor to ensure that he forwards this to the national, saying that his earlier visit to the President was very much timely and has yielded a lot of fruit. As the Southeast CAN Emeritus Chairman, he finally made an appeal to all the Christians in Enugu state and Southeast, urging them not to go violent.
In his very words, he said: “We are in prayers and we urge you to remain peaceful and not to go violent, but we also want to warn that if things gets out of hand, we shall defend ourselves, because we know that most of these people who are rearing cattle, many of them are not original Fulani herdsmen but we are saying that any Fulani cattle rearer that is seen carrying arms should be arrested by the law enforcement agencies otherwise all of us will equally carry arms.”
|Bishop Chukwuma Flanked By Other Clergy Men|
So they should be asked to drop their arms and if they are caught, they should be arrested to avoid unnecessary killings.” He thanked the governor for accepting them to come and express their grievances, bemusing that he is really “Gburu gburu” and that he will inform the Southeast CAN that what they had agreed, the Enugu state governor had carried it out, assuring him of their continuous support.
He finally expressed his happiness at the change of Enugu state Commissioner of Police, advising the new CP that he should know that he had come to protect and safeguard his people.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi acknowledging both his speech and the address, declared a minute silence for the deceased people of Nimbo.
In his speech, he said; “It is with the greatest respect that I welcome the leadership of CAN both in Enugu and the Southeast to government house and my brothers and sisters in Christian faith, Nnonu!”
“Before I could say anything, I would like to say that Enugu state is in the hands of God, that is why Ndigbo will always flourish before the eyes of men.
|Governor Ugwuanyi Ifeanyi Addressing Protesters|
Let me also say that in less than two hours from now, the Judicial Commission of Enquiry will act on this. That means I won't say much as the Judicial Commission of Enquiry will do the needful.
Let me also commend you for your kind words as well as having trust in my government. Our prayers is that this Nimbo killings will be the last in Jesus name...”
“Our prayers is that the Almighty God will bring an everlasting peace in Enugu state. Our prayer is that we shall continue to grow from strength to strength not minding what the enemies may bring to us. The God we serve is greater than them.
Finally, I’ll like to commend the leadership of CAN and to our spiritual fathers, we owe it to you and that even at this point in time, all we can do is to strengthen our resolve to ensure for a better society. Our prayer is that your lives as the morning day spring rise up and never fades.
‘Umunne m na Umunna m’, this is a solemn moment in our state, but notwithstanding, what has happened, because we have a God who is bigger than our enemies.” “We assure you of better tomorrow. The government has taken your decision..., just now I was coming back from Abuja, I went into discussion with both the Enugu Commissioner of Police, Director of SSS and the Commandant of Civil Defence with one goal. I'm sure that this same God that will stop this, will give us the strength to bear what has happened but the law must take its course. Oga adiri unu na mma. Daalu!!!”
Read also:BIAFRA WRITERS VISIT TO NATIONAL ORTHOPAEDIC HOSPITAL ENUGU: INTERVIEW VICTIMS OF FULANI HERDSMEN INVASION AT UZO-UWANI ENUGU.
Earlier before the protest, the clergymen whom arrived in droves, came out one after the other to address the protesters at their meeting venue.
One of them who stated that Enugu state is the heart of the old Eastern region that presently controls 9 states namely; Cross-river, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom and Delta states. Others are; Anambra, Ebonyi, Abia and Imo states. Decrying the menace of Fulani herdsmen, he said that we will not keep quiet and allow them to destroy us and our lands. He said that in Igboeze North, the Fulani herdsmen raped a daughter in front of her mother whom was later slaughtered and nothing happened.
In Awgu and Nimbo communities, they had butchered people with machetes and guns.
He said they sent a letter of an impending attack to Agbani and the villagers ran away from their community, they also targeted Ibeagwa Nike, all in Enugu state. He said that 2 days ago at Amokwe community, they murdered two people, telling other clerics to stand up and defend their people because if these herdsmen succeed, they will only have to preach to trees.
Another clergyman who spoke after him, admonished that we won't keep quiet or fold our arms and watch our ancestral home to be taken over by Fulani herdsmen. He said: “We have suffered enough, how long are we going to allow these evil to continue? We suffered miserably during and after the Biafra-Nigeria civil war, they chased our people away from Kaduna, Kano, Gombe, Yobe states and other places.”
“Our people will suffer to cultivate and they’ll not allow them to harvest their crops and find something to eat. They rape our women and get away with it.” he bemoaned.
Read also:ENUGU MASSACRE: BIAFRA WRITERS VISIT TO NIMBO/UKPABI COMMUNITY.
Another cleric who also addressed the protesters said that he had a lot of reports here and there of things happening and the Church, have no gun, or knives or any other dangerous weapons but we rely and depend only on God who is our defender and redeemer, expressing hope that Enugu state will overcome them. In his words; “We don't want crises or war in Enugu state but they should remember that though we don't have weapons, we're not afraid of them. If they want war, they'll get war and if they want peace, they will get peace, in anyway they want it, the Church is now ready to face them.” He continued, saying: “After today, nobody will run away from them anywhere they gathered. We should face and tackle them head-on.”
He said that at Ugbene in Abakpa, Enugu state, three Fulani gatekeepers raped a young lady, tied her legs and hands, inserted a small blade inside her mouth to prevent her from shouting. And when the girl became so weak, they left her. He advised that our people need to arise, we need to speak out, we need to task ourselves. The last clergyman who spoke said that a popular Igbo sage stated “that a man who is being surrounded by his enemies, loses sleep in safeguarding himself and family all the time.”
He mentioned that during the Biafran war, we used ordinary sticks to defend ourselves and that what prompted him to join the Biafran army was the terrible experience of how he stood watch while his brother was cut through his stomach with a sharp knife during the war.
Another Clergy Man Addressing Protesters
He said that the maltreatment and utter disdain for the Easterners didn't start today and that the proposed National grazing bill will be vehemently resisted in all it's entirety. He said: “Any place they want to allocate lands for grazing, we'll go there, destroy their things and chase them away from such lands. We don't have enough lands here, they should go to the North and implement the Bill because they have enough lands. If we should allow them, one day, they'll arise and kill us all. If you see a group of people who does not love and respect you, don't treat them as your relation, expecting them to love you.” He said that one of the things he learnt from the School of Ministry in San Diego is “that when you're dealing with a stranger, don't treat him as your friend but see him as your enemy.”
He continued: “The Fulanis don't love us and we should not treat them as our brothers, even if they rub powder on us.” He concluded by tasking Christians to be prayerful because many things are happening and according to him, this is the time we should come together with one voice and say ‘NO’ to the killings because we are not goats slaughtered daily in the abattoir. He said: “Enough is enough, we don't want killers in our lands, they should leave and go to theirs. Christians should arise with one mind as this touches everybody.”
Lastly, one of the Umuada Nimbo who went on her knees, said that it was her brothers and sisters who were been massacred by the herdsmen and that they have continued to kill her people that if you visit her community, you will only meet high number of widows. She regretted that fear and shame has enveloped them She thanked Enugu indigenes and others who came from other zones and local governments to show solidarity and participate in the protest, saying that this shows it is not only Nimbo that was attacked but the whole of Southeast and South-South.
|Ada Uzo-Uwani Burst into Tears While Addresaing Govermor Ugwuanyi|
Written By Chukwuemeka Chimerue.
Published By Nwosu C.S
For Biafra Writers.