The leader of the Fulani community in the South- East and deputy leader of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association, South East chapter, Alhaji Ardo Saidu Baso, Thursday gave reasons suspected Fulani herdsmen attacked and massacred scores of Ukpabi- Nimbo people of Enugu State last week.
Ardo told New Telegraph in an interview that four Fulani people were killed around Ukpabi-Nimbo in December last year and less than a week later, two boys from one Fulani parents based in Nasarawa State were equally killed.
According to the Fulani leader, the father of the boys, distraught by the news of their death, visited Uzo-Uwani to find out what happened, only for him to also be killed. Ardo stated that he got intelligence about the impending attack on Nimbo and that he informed the local government chairman, the governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, the state commissioner of police and the Area Commander of police at Nsukka about it.
The Fulani leader said that he even embarked on a journey to Nasarawa at the prompting of Uzo- Uwani Local Government Area Chairman, Cornel Onwubuya, to stave off the attack and possibly invite the families of the deceased for a dialogue.
He stated that on reaching Otukpo in Benue State, he learnt that the Fulani people from Nasarawa State had already camped at the bush in Amaeke Nsukka preparatory for the attack and that he aborted his journey and rushed back to inform the council boss. He expressed surprise that despite all his efforts to forestall the disaster, nothing was done to prevent it by the relevant authorities.
His words: “What happened at Uzo-Uwani is that before Christmas last year, I heard that about four Fulani people were killed; four Fulani boys. But later, they killed two boys again; I heard they are from Nasarawa State. So, the father of the two boys got the sad news and decided to come to find out what happened that resulted to the killing of his two sons.
“That was his first visit to this part of the country. So, when he arrived that place, the same people that killed his sons killed the man also. The two boys that were killed, the name of one of them is Hassan; I can’t remember the name of the other boy. I don’t know the name of their father.
“The two boys that were killed, it was the Uzo-Uwani police station that came and carried their corpse. But their father was killed across the border with Kogi State, at a place called Odolo. So, it was the Odolo Divisional Police Officer (DPO) that came and carried the corpse. But I don’t know whether it was the Fulani people at Nasarawa that came to attack Ukpabi- Nimbo people,” he said.
He added: “Before it happened, the governor (Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi) had called us and asked whether we heard about the rumour that there would be attack on Nimbo people. I said yes, that I heard it. And the chairman of the local government (Cornel Onwubuya) also asked whether I heard the rumour, I said yes that I heard it. He asked what I could do to forestall the attack.
“So, I tried to reach one man from Nasarawa State, who had earlier informed me that Fulani people were killed. I tried his number again, but it was not going, and I don’t know him in person. Even if I see him now, only his phone number that I have.
“But I continued to get information that people from Nasarawa are gathering in preparation for attack. I rushed to the chairman of the local government area again to inform him. I told the Special Adviser (can’t remember his name) to the governor also about the rumour.
“But the local government chairman was asking me what would he do now; that he told the governor about it. So, he begged me to go to Nasarawa to find out whether I will see those people; he gave me transport money to enable me go and see if I could invite them so that we will resolve the matter. I embarked on the trip, but on reaching Otukpo in Benue State, I heard that the people had already gathered at Amaeke in Nsukka. They gathered in the bush.”
Ardo, who hails from Katsina State, noted that he has lived in Enugu State for 34 years, noting that if he is sent away by force, he had no other place to go. He stressed that the people that engage in killing and other disturbances are not Fulanis living in Enugu State.
“My own is that if you say they are accusing Fulani, I’m not denying that it is Fulani because of those two boys and their father (Fulanis) killed in that place. I heard that it could be them that came for the attack. If I see the people, I don’t know them.
“But truly that Nimbo area, I heard they have killed many Fulani people, because since the last 10 years till now, about 30 Fulani people have been killed around Uzo-Uwani generally.
“I’m telling you the truth. But the Fulani living in Enugu State were not among those that killed people. And we don’t like the attack. That is why we are not running away, only the Fulanis around Uzo- Uwani that are running away because of reprisal. No Fulani living in Enugu is part of that problem.”
When our correspondent called Cornel Onwubuya, the council boss of Uzo-Uwani LGA for his reactions, he could not answer his call as he continued to press busy.
He did not equally respond to text message to his phone.