By Jude Atupulazi
Like play like play, monkey go go market e no go return, goes a popular saying here. This saying is a kind of caution to people to be mindful of the consequences of their action. This is what is playing out now in Anambra, nay Igboland. Over last week, was a story that trended on the social media about how some youths in Umuawulu, a community in Awka South Local Government Area, sighted four Fulani boys carrying six AK-47 rifles on their shoulders while aboard two motorcycles. The youths trailed them to Isiagu, also in Awka South LGA where the Fulanis reside.
This had led to a meeting between the stakeholders of the community and the police and Fulani leaders in which the incident was deliberated. But the Fulani leaders were said to have walked out of the meeting when they were reprimanded for the action of their people. So the story went.
The police had denied the story, describing it as untrue and capable of inflaming ethnic passions.
But the President-General of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohaneze, Chief Nnia Nwodo, had quickly responded to that by writing an open letter to the IG of Police and warning of the dire consequences of treating the matter with levity. His open letter had been well publicized too.
However, in a bid to be sure that it was not the usual social media stunt, I rang up Nwodo to confirm the veracity of what I was reading everywhere. He confirmed that it was indeed, his letter, but not after asking me if what he wrote was not good. Of course I affirmed that it was good.
Now, with the police denying the incident by saying no meeting between the Umuawulu stakeholders, the police and the Fulanis ever took place, not to talk of a group staging a walkout, my confusion has only deepened. But if I were to align myself with anyone, it will be with Nwodo. The reason is simple: we should not go to sleep over such disturbing reports, especially given the penchant of the police to down play such incidents. Many people who went to sleep in various parts of the country after hearing such never woke up from that sleep as they were attacked in the night by the Fulani herdsmen and butchered.
So rather than dwell on whether the Umuawulu incident is true or not, we should be vigilant. To be candid, I doubt that anyone would joke with such a serious incident as sighting AK-47 wielding Fulani youths. What the police should do is to fully investigate this and if true, arrest those involved and trace the source of their guns.
The failure to arrest these Fulanis and tracing the sources of their guns is one of the main reasons why this murderous group has not been caged. Today they are conquering new territories and occupying same unchallenged.
Truly, if any such report had been made about Igbo youths seen with such sophisticated rifles, the police, the army, the air force and navy would have been mobilized to hunt them down. But when it comes to the Fulanis, it is hushed up or described as rumour.
Whoever thinks that the DANGER is not near us must be living in a fool's paradise as stories abound as to how some of our people have been kidnapped here by them in what may be described as testing the waters.
With the west launching Amotekun to combat the menace of the herdsmen, it is clear that they will flee the west and look for other safe havens in the middle belt, the south south and the east. Are we ready to contain them? Good enough, the Southeast leaders are now deliberating on our own version of regional security. I pray they conclude it very fast and make our zone impenetrable. Once these blood hounds establish a foothold on our land, it will be difficult to drive them out.
Let me now share Chief Nwodo's Open Letter to the Police with you.
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE
THE ROAD TO ANARCHY
It is with a heart full of trepidation and responsibility that Ohaneze 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.
The Inspector General of Police sir, Ohanaeze Ndigbo is alarmed by this wanton act because of the danger it portends. This raises the following questions:
1. Is the bearing of unlicensed firearms (especially sophisticated ones like Ak-47) no longer illegal and therefore punishable in breach of the laws of this country?
2. 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?
3. 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 himself, will the security agencies be able to contain the mayhem that will ensue?
4. Can the IGP imagine what fate that 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?
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 commisioners from a particular part of the country that are posted to Igbo land. 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.
Like I always say, Ndigbo are ever capable of defending themselves. They will not fold their arms and allow gun-totting 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.
Chief John Nnia Nwodo
Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide