KOGI State Police Command now has in its custody, one of the suspected herdsmen who participated in the recent massacre of more than 48 persons in Nimbo community, Uzo- Uwani local government area of Enugu state.
Saturday Sun gathered that the suspect simply identified as Mohammed Zure was initially arrested by the police because of his connection with some suspected kidnappers in the state.
According Sun Newspapers, a reliable source in the state command, Mohammed was granted bail after the prime suspect in the kidnap case for which he was nabbed was arrested. “He was granted bail and because he needed someone to take him on bail, the investigating officer decided to switch on his phone. Out of curiosity, he decided to go through the content of the phone. It was in the process that he discovered horrible video clips of a murder scene.
“Everything changed immediately and he was taken back to the interrogation room. He later confessed that he was the one who took the video while they were slaughtering one of the victims during the Enugu killings. In the video, you could hear him shouting and saying in Hausa ‘I have killed you now. You think that you can kill Fulani herdsmen and go free’. He personally took the picture to show his family members that he was actually successful and participated in the killings”, the police source stated.
According to the source, Mohammed confessed that they were more than 100 Fulani herdsmen who came for the attack. “He confessed that they were more than 100 and were selected from different states especially from Taraba , Kogi, Benue, Nasarrawa , Kastina , Niger and Kaduna states. He claimed that the people of Nimbo had killed so many of their people in the past and government did not do anything about it. He claimed that they also reported severally to Nimbo elders but they refused to investigate, that was why they decided to retaliate.”
Mohammed, it was further gathered, told the police that the Fulani are so united that whatever affects an individual is their problem. “He alleged that their people in Nimbo shared Kolanut to all cattle rearers across the country. What it signifies is that there is going to be an attack and everyone should send representatives to support them. He alleged that this is their custom and has been existing. He was nominated to join them because he was born and raised in Enugu by his father who is also a herdsman. Two days before the attack, they all gathered in a community in Kogi and perfected how they would execute the attack.”
Meanwhile, we learnt that police has commenced massive hunt for the fleeing herdsmen who are believed to have relocated from Enugu.
The attack on Nimbo community by suspected Fulani herdsmen may have come and gone but the damages will surely remain for ages. Families, friends and well wishers continue to mourn their deceased ones while the community has remained largely deserted following the incidence in the early hours of Monday 25th April, 2016.
One of Saturday Sun’s reporters had last week paid a visit to some families that lost their beloved ones in the attack. Mr. Dennis Eze, a brother to late Mr. Maxwell Eze who died in the attack has this to say.
“We are still in shock. We never know this attack would still happen because there was information prior to the attack and the security agencies were alerted one week before the attack yet they couldn’t do anything to stop it”, Mr. Dennis said. Explaining how the attack happened, he said “We had a meeting on Sunday evening where we discussed how to protect our community from the attack if it happens. It was around 3am on Monday that a warning bell was rung and woke everybody up and we never knew it was the Fulani herdsmen that rang the bell only for us to come out and behold there were armed men in their large numbers and they started shooting sporadically at us.
What saved some of us is that we have dispersed settlements in our community. Before some of us could come out, we heard gunshots and ran for our lives instead of going to the village square. Only those who are close to the village square were killed. My own house is far from my brother’s own. Some also managed to escape.”
Another eyewitness who identified himself as Ifeanyi Onyeabor said the Fulani herdsmen came to the community through Ameke village around 12am on Monday and laid ambush to attack by 3am. “We believe they came into our village around 12am and laid ambush to attack us by 3am. The information we had was that they will attack Uzouwani but no community was mentioned. We even thought it would be Abbi community because of the crisis they are having with Fulani herdsmen”, Ifeanyi said.
On security lapses that paved the way for the attack, Ifeanyi said the security agencies did nothing to avert the attack despite the fact that they were given a first class information about their hideout. “Our informant spotted where the Fulani herdsmen camped in between Ameke village and Eshi river and we reported to the police. All they could do was to be patrolling along Nsukka – Adani road without making any effort to chase them away from their camp”, he revealed.
When we asked the name of the informant and how he got the information, Ifeanyi said “A man from Opanda whose name was never mentioned said he came in contact with his Fulani friend who warned him to leave Uzouwani with his family and run for his life saying they had recruited over five hundred armed men from Niger and Nasarawa states to attack Uzouwani on Monday. The man said he asked the Fulani man the target but the Fulani man could not tell him. He only said the attack would not happen at Opanda. Before then, they had relocated their cattle to Benue”
“Another man who spotted them at their camp at Ameke was in his farm when he saw them. He wanted to run but they told him not to run because they were not after him. They told him they were going to another community for revenge and not their community. The man came back and raised the alarm and the security agencies were alerted immediately through the Caretaker Committee chairman of Uzouwani LGA, Hon. Cornel Onwubuya”, he explained further.
Mr. Ifeanyi Onyeabor claimed he had no idea what the Fulani herdsmen avenged but another source who would not want to be mentioned has a good information. The source said his Fulani friend came to him and showed him a picture of a Fulani man who was butchered at Uzouwani and they claimed it was Nimbo people that killed him because they also discovered a grave in Nimbo where two Fulani men were buried upside-down.
“He came to my house at Opanda one week before the attack and showed me the pictures. He came with two pictures, one has the image of a man that was sliced like bread and the other has an image of a man whose belly was sliced open and his intestines were removed. He told me that they discovered a grave in Nimbo where two of their people were buried upside-down and they attributed the other two killings to Nimbo people. He told me that they will attack Uzouwani but he never mentioned Nimbo”, the source revealed.
The Enugu massacre has indeed generated heated debates across the country while some Nigerians in diaspora have staged protests in London to condemn the incident and demand government action. The incident has equally led to the redeployment of the commissioner of police in Enugu state, while President Muhammadu Buhari has given a firm order to security agencies to deal decisively with the herdsmen menace.
When contacted on the development, Spokesman of the Kogi state police command, ASP Willy Eya confirmed the arrest of the suspect by the men of the command. “The suspect, Mohammed Zure was arrested and he confessed to have participated in the Enugu crime but he has been taken to the Force Headquarters in Abuja yesterday (Thursday) while further investigation is on-going”, the PPRO added in response to Saturday Sun’s enquiry yesterday.