In this report, CHUKWU DAVID examines the resolutions of the Senate over recent violent attacks in some communities in Ebonyi State by suspected herdsmen
The Senate plenary on Wednesday, April 14 was characterized by grief and lamentation particularly by senators from Ebonyi State, whose constituents were massacred in recent violent attacks in some communities in the State by Fulani herdsmen.
The mood of the Senate followed consideration of a motion brought to the floor by a former Governor of Ebonyi State and Senator representing Ebonyi North Senatorial District on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Sam Egwu. Egwu had raised a point of order, citing Orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Orders, drawing the attention of his colleagues to the recent violent attacks that occurred in his state, which claimed scores of lives and the unquantifiable number of property.
The former governor, who titled his motion, ‘Urgent need for the federal government’s intervention to end the serial killing of innocent and defenceless citizens in Ebonyi State by alleged herdsmen decried the general state of insecurity in Nigeria.
He expressed concern that, killing, maiming, kidnapping and wanton destruction of lives and property by herdsmen had become a daily experience of citizens of innocent and defenceless people of Ebonyi State, who were killed in their numbers almost on weekly basis.
Egwu recalled that on the 30th day of March, 2021, over 18 indigenes of Egedege, Obehi and Amuzu communities in Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, including a priest, were gruesomely murdered in cold blood by rampaging herdsmen.
He further lamented that on Monday the 12th day of April 2021, alleged herdsmen/Agila people again, invaded Otuebu, Igidi Obu and Ndiagu Ibe-Agba villages in Umuogudu Akpu community, Ohaukwu LGA of Ebonyi State, and gruesomely murdered over 12 indigenes, burnt/ destroyed over 56 houses and kidnapped five persons.
The visibly agitated lawmaker warned that if the federal government failed to intervene urgently, the wicked and senseless killings, kidnapping and destruction of property might persist, thereby subjecting Ebonyians and other citizens in the state to severe hardship and terrific fear.
Contributing to the debate, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, a PDP chieftain, representing Enugu North Senatorial District, advocated for inter-agency interventions that would put a halt to killings by herdsmen across the country.
He said: “The most important part of our time spent here has always been about reportage of killings of our people in the hands of herdsmen. Mr President, this is becoming very worrisome, that in a country which is under the rule of law, issues of these natures keep repeating themselves on a daily basis.
“Mr President, I’m begging that, in order to solve this herder issue, we should make out time to have inter-agency meetings to sit down and see how we can return to these rules of engagement that can allow us to do business without let or hindrance. With that, I say Mr President that something urgent has to be done.”
In his contribution, Senator Michael Nnachi, who represents Ebonyi South on the platform of the PDP, lamented the number of lives lost to communal clashes between communities and herdsmen killings in the State.
According to him, the ceaseless killings had made citizens in Ebonyi state to live in fear of being attacked subsequently, stating that the ugly development was severely affecting the socio-economic lives of the people.
“As I’m talking to you, I got a call that nobody slept at Abakaliki in fear of the herdsmen attacking them last night because they got a signal that they were around. All of them ran into their houses.
Mr President, not to say much, the motion as ably moved by Senator Egwu is heart-beating. I support this motion wholeheartedly, that something must be done to safeguard the lives of the people.
“Just less than three weeks over thirty-three people were killed by herdsmen; over seven hundred people killed by communal clashes between Benue, Effium and Ezza – which is part of Benue and Ebonyi”, he said.
Following the prayers of the motion, the Senate called on the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, to carry out a comprehensive investigation into the killings and the kidnapping of citizens in Ebonyi state by alleged herdsmen, with a view to arresting and prosecute perpetrators, and also rescue kidnap victims still held captive.
The Senate also observed a minute silence in honour of those killed in the attacks, and condemned in the strongest terms the various attacks on communities in Ebonyi State, which led to the destruction of lives and property.
It further urged the federal and Ebonyi State governments to put appropriate measures in place to forestall further attacks, urging the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to immediately intervene through the provision of relief materials to the families of the victims and displaced persons in the affected communities