The Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Most Rev. Calistus Onaga, on Saturday at the Holy Ghost Cathedral, slammed security agencies in the state, for not doing enough to curb the incessant menace of herdsmen which has created an ominous cloud of fear and foreboding hanging thick over the people in their own home state.
Armed Fulani -herdsmen
This was at a time the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who was at the Cathedral with other security chiefs to ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order, yesterday, also renewed his earlier statement that the Nimbo massacre would not be allowed to repeat itself in any part of the state; while stressing that his administration had done much to contain the ugly incident. The assurance came as Catholic faithful in Enugu, Awgu and Nsukka Dioceses, held peaceful prayer processions over the activities of herdsmen in communities in the state, with a call on the government to put in place adequate security measures to check the trend. The governor, who joined in the prayer rally held at the Ghost Cathedral, Enugu, called on the faithful to remain law abiding, assuring that government was doing all it can to ensure peace and co-existence of people in the state. He said: “We have continued to take necessary measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents in the state. We are currently engaged in the process of reactivating the neighbourhood watch associations in every community in the state and in aid of which we have approved an initial seed sum of N100 million. “We also constituted a Judicial Panel of Inquiry to unravel the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident and also determine the best ways to prevent its recurrence. “At a meeting with the Fulani and Shuwa Arab communities in Enugu State, we collectively condemned such criminal acts as armed robbery, kidnapping, rape and destruction of farms that are associated with herdsmen and agreed to ban night grazing in Enugu State. We have also empowered Chairmen of Local Government Councils to hold security meetings in their respective areas. We also held a meeting with Traditional Rulers and Presidents General of town unions in the state, where we took far reaching decisions on how to prevent future clashes between herdsmen and their host communities. More importantly, we have enjoyed the support of Enugu people who have continued to believe in our leadership and in our ability to handle this matter satisfactorily” BISHOP ONAGA ANGRY Furious with obvious security lapses surrounding the Nimbo massacre, the Catholic Bishop, Callistus Onaga, said that the Church had been praying about the mounting challenges posed by the activities of the herdsmen, especially in rural communities in the state, stressing that the church was interested in peace. He stated that the most recent and widely reported incident at Nimbo, Uzo Uwani council in which several farmers and citizens were butchered to death in their homes was a culmination of a growing culture of impunity, arrogance and dare-devilry among the herdsmen, saying that some of them had become “increasingly lawless. “The result is that an ominous cloud of fear, foreboding and insecurity now hangs thick over our people in their own home state. So far, the response of the various security agencies to these attacks and needless provocations have not been enough to give the people a sense of being protected by them”, he said He called on the federal government to drop, without further delay, the grazing bill, stressing that it was capable of tearing apart the fragile unity of the country. “Nigerians are already suffering much on account of the economic hardships in the country at the moment. To add to this by abdicating its responsibility in the provision of security for the people would amount to insensitivity on the part of the government”, he said. Calling on the people to remain law abiding and continue to work for the harmonious co-existence of all Nigerians, Bishop Onaga urged local community leaders to refrain from entering into agreements with herdsmen or with any group of persons that would create room for tension and crisis.