By David-Chyddy Eleke
Severally, Nigerians have been kidnapped along the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, just between Enugu and Okigwe, and there is no longer doubts that the perpetrators are Fulani bandits.
At least, those who have made it out alive from their camps (who are many too), especially former prelate of Methodist Church, Dr Samuel Kanu-Uche, and a lecturer at the Spiritan University, who hails from Anambra have attested so.
There are numerous accounts to show the identity and location of the bandits, but we decided to cite the two above because both men hold positions that won’t let them deceive society.
So, who are these Fulani bandits working for? Don’t be surprised at my question because it seems almost obvious that someone is collecting returns on the enterprise.
Are they working for the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)? Are they working for the Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu? Are they working for the Imo State governor, Hope Uzodinma? Or are they working for the federal government of Nigeria led by Muhammadu Buhari, and the Nigeria Security Agencies?
I have reason for limiting the posers above to those groups and individuals, but my biggest suspicion is with Hope Uzodinma, Muhammadu Buhari and Nigeria security forces.
Yesterday, Sunday 21st August, five Catholic nuns were kidnapped on the same road, while on their way to a thanksgiving mass. Most of the reports I have read from many news organisations always had this paragraph – “this was the same area where the Prelate of the Methodist Church, Dr Samuel Kanu-Uche was abducted in June.”
What does this tell us? Kidnapping on that axis is constant, and the kidnappers have not shifted base. They probably operate on the same axis, using different spots, and have also kept victims in different camps around the same area.
Now, let us ask – do these Fulani herdsmen know the geography of that area more than the locals? I know of protests by locals over the siege on their land but, why haven’t concerned groups like IPOB, individuals and even subnational governments, especially Anambra, Imo and Abia reacted to this.
First, we have heard of the militant wing of IPOB; Eastern Security Network (ESN). We have heard from their parent body and it’s spokesperson, how ESN lives in the bushes and securing the area for the people of the East. As much as we have continually heard of these attacks, I had expected that the bushes and forests around Isuochi in Abia and other communities in Okigwe where Fulani bandits operate would have been invaded by these ‘specially’ trained ESN operatives. After all, the area is a Biafra territory.
IPOB through its spokesperson, Emma Powerful has severally laid claims to how much efforts it expends to guard bushes around Biafraland, but their inability yo beam their searchlights on the bushes around Umuneochi and Okigwe is a pointer to the fact that they are more of a propaganda-based organisaion.
Again, in Imo, under the guise of taming insecurity, which the Imo State government led by Hope Uzodinma believes is a creation of IPOB, the Ebubeagu militia was created. Besides the creation of the militia, Uzodinma has never spared the use of Nigeria security agencies to ‘protect’ the people of Imo State.
For example, two colleagues of this journalist, who ply their trade in Anambra State have severally cried about the state of their homesteads. One from Izombe came close to tears about the condition of his people. Within this month, persons suspected to be men of the Nigerian Army invaded their homes, sacked residents and destroyed homes. This was purported to be on the order of the state governor.
Another colleague who hails from Orlu area, Eziawa, and who was recently bereaved has the same story to tell. His entire community is now desolate, and any young person seen therein is branded an IPOB member and quickly captured, either by the Nigerian Military or the state-run Ebubeagu militia. That colleague recently lost his dear mum, for whom he never missed to travel home every weekend to be with, but since her death, he has been under several contemplations on a date that will be less volatile to come home and hold a befitting burial for her.
My question is, why can’t the Ebubeagu militia that can be so potent in Imo, to the point of sacking communities in search of IPOB elements fomenting trouble in the state also comb the bushes around Okigwe area to deal with a bigger threat arising from Fulani occupation of their bushes?
As for the Muhammadu Buhari-controlled military, I’m not surprised that that there have not moved to dislodge the siege on Enugu-Okigwe Expressway, even when it has been confirmed that a military checkpoint is stationed not so far away from the point where the kidnappers always strike.
In fact, some people who had used the same route to deliver ransom to the Fulani bandits have attested to being accosted by the military men on that axis, and have upon enquiry on their mission even demanded their own share of the money.
Just Sunday, Reverend Sisters Johannes Nwodo, Christabel Echemazu, Liberata Mbamalu and Benita Agu were abducted on the same route, and the state police command’s spokesperson in Imo, while reacting to a journalist’s enquiry said the commissioner of police in the state has despatched men to comb the forests in the area. This is more like a template reply because the command does not need the enquiry of a journalist to state what it has done in respect to this, especially as stories of kidnap in the area have been constantly in the news.
Back to my question – no mater how notorious anyone may be, I doubt if one can travel to a certain part of the country and start unleashing terror on inhabitants, without internal collaborators. Even when they have locals as aides, they still need governments of the area, street guys and all, to be able to operate smoothly. So, the Fulani bandits must be collaborating with persons who enjoy returns from the proceeds of their enterprise.
Pray, who do the Fulani bandits operating within Enugu-Okigwe Expressway settle to be able to ply their trade effectively. Don’t tell me there isn’t, because there must be.