The President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo has written to the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu, warning that Ndigbo had taken enough of the harassment and intimidation of Fulani herdsmen in Igboland.
He said though Ndigbo are law-abiding and hospitable, they are ever capable of defending themselves and would not fold their arms and allow gun-toting, marauding Fulani herdsmen to continue harassing, raping, maiming and killing them in their own homes.
Nwodo whose letter stemmed from an alleged action of the Fulani herders and their leaders recently at a meeting in Awka in the presence of police, whereby they called the bluff of their host communities following reports that they were moving about with AK-47 rifles.
His letter titled “The road to anarchy” and dated March 3, reads in parts, “It is with a heart full of trepidation and responsibility that Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide brings to your notice a potentially explosive situation in Anambra State of Nigeria.
“The people of Umuawulu community in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State saw four Fulani boys with six Ak-47 rifles slung on their shoulders and riding two motor cycles and trailed them to Isiagu community also in Awka South LGA where they reside.
“When the news of the brazen wielding of firearms spread across the council area, as law-abiding citizens, the stakeholders there convened a crucial meeting with the police and Fulani leaders in the state and raised the matter for deliberation.
“The stakeholders told the Fulani leaders in the presence of men of the State Investigation and Intelligence Bureau, SIIB, Awka that they were alarmed and surprised that their boys were flagrantly displaying arms in the public, unmindful of the legal implications of unlawful possession of firearms. The stakeholders expressed disappointment that security agencies did not make any attempt to arrest the offending Fulani boys, adding that if it were Igbo boys they would have been arrested, tortured and charged to court.
“But rather than explain what led to the carrying of arms by the boys, or even apologise on behalf of the boys, the Fulani leaders told the stakeholders to do their worst and walked out on them, saying that their boys must always bear arms to protect themselves against religious, ethnic or tribal attacks from any quarters, and there is nothing anybody can do.
“This, in the presence of law enforcement agents and nothing was actually done to arrest either the Fulani boys or their leaders for overtly declaring war on the people of Anambra State.”
Stating that Ohanaeze Ndigbo was alarmed by the wanton act because of the danger it portends, Nwodo, therefore, raised four pertinent questions for Nigeria Police boss.
He asked: “Is the bearing of unlicensed firearms (especially sophisticated ones like Ak-47) no longer illegal and therefore punishable in breach in the laws of this country?
“Do we now have different laws for different ethnic groups in Nigeria? If it were to be members of IPOB or any other group other than Fulani that bear such illegal arms what fate would befall them?
“Does the impetuous action and utterance of the Fulani leaders not a clear and definite invitation to anarchy? If everybody in this country, irrespective of tribe, carries such firearms to protect themselves, will the security agencies be able to contain the mayhem that will ensue?
“Can the IGP imagine what fate would have befallen any Igbo leaders in any part of the North who dare challenge their hosts and the police with such impunity and callousness?”
Continuing Nwodo said: “Mr Inspector General of Police Sir, Ohanaeze Ndigbo believes that there is enough tension in the country already to allow room for more. But, it is only a tree that they tell it will be cut down and it remains motionless waiting for the axe. The principle of self defense is even enshrined in the statutes of the country. Peaceful coexistence is a prerequisite for development.
“The police is by statute empowered, equipped and expected to make peace between two warring factions and not to take sides or protect one group.
“The action of the police in Anambra State is, to say the least, despicable and a tacit invitation to anarchy. Except a coward, nobody will ever run away from his fatherland and leave it for another to occupy. Ndigbo are not cowards.
“The behaviour of the police probably explains why it is only police commissioners from a particular part of the country that are posted to Igboland. This also tends to lay credence to the fears being harboured by our people that even the military laying siege on Igbo land are here to protect the interest of an ethnic group. Not only have Ndigbo been marginalised in this country, they are even being pushed to the brink. It is always said that no country survives a second civil war.”
The Ohanaeze President General stated emphatically that Ndigbo are ever capable of defending themselves, adding that “they will not fold their arms and allow gun-toting marauding Fulani herdsmen to continue harassing, raping, maiming and killing them in their own homes. We are law-abiding, hospitable and always ready to coexist with others as friends and brothers but not as foes and at a supreme price. Enough is enough!”