By Emeka Umeagbalasi
It must be admitted that I have not rested well for the past three days; having been bombarded and still being bombarded with barrages of calls, text messages, WhatsApp and email messages; with most coming from phone calls and WhatsApp messages. I am also yet to recover from the stress I went through including brain-cracking and sleepless night in anchoring or supervising the work. I have attended to such messages and calls from not less than 500 persons and contacts. I have also missed several calls. The number of visitors/readers on our website (www.intersociety-ng.org) has surged and the work has attracted hundreds of thousands or millions of readers and commentators around the world.
The research work https://sundiatapost.com/jihadist-fulani-herdsmen-and-shuwa-arabs-now-occupy-350-igbo-communities-and-villages-special-report/has also attracted heated debates on various social group media platforms. It has equally kept independent and politically exposed internet users busy in the past three days. My respected friend and “elder brother at large”, Chief Oseloka Obaze has also called three times, saying he has been facing similar bombarded calls and messages. This is on account of the fact that he happened to be one of those contacted in the case of Ogbaru-where this writer also resides. Our new head of publicity, Barr Damaris Amaka Onuoha (Mrs.) has also received a number of calls even though her mobile line was not included in the signature side of the work.
As a matter of confession, I have never received the number of calls, questions, suggestions and commendations as head of Intersociety, formed in 2008 or since I became a rights and democracy campaigner in 1995 or past 25 years. In all the messages, calls and comments, I only received one unfair comment. It is also worth revealing that the cost of all this (research work) was not more than N200, 000 and it was freely published in the media.
All contributions and assistance towards same were voluntary or free of charge or from ‘in-kind’ supports. I feel deeply elated by the positive impacts the work has made and still making on our people (aroused group consciousness); to the extent of asking myself: “so with just N200, 000 or roughly $500, great works such as this can be done for humanity with such high magnitude of positive impact?”
My attention has therefore been specifically drawn by my friend and ally, Isaac Umunna, Publisher of the NewsExpress Online, regarding some negative reactions to the research work on occupation of no fewer than 350 Igbo Communities and other locations by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and their Shuwa Arab brothers. The negative comments (frivolities and irrelevancies) were said to have been made on “Izunwanne WhatsApp Group Forum”.
Some of such comments that I have gone through are found to be petty and intellectually unsound. They had deviated from core issues, focusing their attention on “which community is correctly or incorrectly included or excluded”; even when some, if not many of such commentators are well known to have the urban background of being ‘ana bu otu’ or ‘urban red cap chiefs’. I have therefore considered it necessary to set the following records straight:
1. Clearly understood are the negative impacts of the present ICT ruled Society including internet usage. Though the ICT has positively made a lot of things including social science research and investigation easier, but it has also negatively introduced intellectual laziness and has same inculcated in the intellectual culture of many members of the educated class.
This is to the extent of them transformed them into ‘chatting intellectuals’, with clear lack of intellectual depths including lose of senses of judgment grounded in logic and critical thinking. Totality of these has sadly become a norm among the dominant members of the Igbo educated class. Today, an average university professor in Igbo Land runs a real estate or a beer parlour or a boutique instead of being a research professor. Research grants now go into property acquisition or development. And in the end, anybody who refuses to join them is jeered at and seen as ‘a deviant’.
2. It is a grand rule of social research that: “to validly invalidate the research work of another, the critic(s) must have carried out a counter research with counter finding”. It is also a fundamental characteristic of social research that “no matter the amount of disproval received by a research work, it must contain some validity and substance”. Researchers generally are also like ‘the living spirits and seers, what they see today many don’t see same even in years to come’.
3. It is granted that research work or investigation is an intellectual or academic discourse; guided by eight rules: ‘debate, scholarship, argument, criticism, analysis, evidence, objectivity and precision’; and to evaluate a social research, the evaluators must apply them to the letter; setting aside ‘synchronous’ or ‘asynchronous’ web gossips or gullible utterances.
4. It must be clearly stated that our research work was not done to be debated on social media and in the end dumped. Granted that people have a right to read and agree or disagree with the work; including those that wish to have it infested with their personal biases; but we must be reminded of the core objectives of the work: exposing the intents of the Jihadists in Igbo Land and effectively exploring collective or teamwork ways of dislodging them and restoring full indigene-ship and ownership of our great Land. Any religion that uses violence and crookedness to get new converts must be resisted by all means legitimately necessary.
5. From my general findings, therefore, the biased commentators are clearly not interested in the growing insecurity and threats posed by the referenced Jihadists, which was why they stayed on their laptops and palmtops and said ‘we are alarmists’. They are not different from those in Igbo Land who ‘do not believe that COVID-19 is real’. The butcheries in Southern Kaduna and old Middle Belt and raging regional jihadism; all cited in the work ought to have served as an eye opener or a warning signal or a wakeup call to all Igbo indigenes home and abroad.
6. It must therefore be disclosed here that ‘ICT is a research made easy’; quickening social research. The today’s ICT empowers two major types of social research: ‘natural method’ and ‘scientific method’. While scientific research such as use of drones is the easiest and quickest; it is highly manipulative and substantially questionable. The natural aspect, on its part is the most difficult but substantially reliable and credible. In our own work, ICT powered natural method was used. I am sure the biased commentators must have been surprised as how we came about or located those communities, villages and other locations.
7. The answer is not farfetched. Our work is built on the existing one conducted last year by the duo of the respected Igbo Intelligentsia-the Ala-Igbo Development Foundation (ADF) and the Association of Southeast Town Unions-which had last week petitioned the UN, US, EU, UK and others raising alarm or saying what we also said. To congregate and aggregate communal facts in Igbo Land, there are two powerful natural means to achieve it. One is through the leaderships of the Town Unions-and where they are deemed compromised, another which is the most effective, is available (name withheld). It is a group network that has presence and communally active foot soldiers all over Igbo Land. It requires you as a would-be field researcher to be on the ground or an ‘area boy’ for you to tap same.
8. This is just the magic and requires no rocket science. Our communal ‘boys’ used, are very communally active and can penetrate the impenetrable. Even when some Town Unions and their leaders do not know that “Fulani abata go n’ obodo’, the ‘area boys’ already know. To authenticate their raw data, we identified intellectual ‘area boys’ in the affected areas; most of them active and seasoned journalists. In Ogbaru, it was applied; same in Anambra West, Anambra East and Ayamelum where we got a seasoned broadcaster/journalist from the area who has also written much about the menace of the Jihadists in the area. In Uzo Uwani and Ezeagu LGAs of Enugu State, we got two ‘area boy’ natives who made further calls back home to add to what they already have.
9. Same methods were used for Abia, Imo and Ebonyi (a former Commissioner for Information in the State); likewise in Igbo Delta and Igbo Rivers. We also made good use of internet searches to identify some troubled spots. Where we have directly witnessed same, we added them. This is in addition to our existing data on similar issues. A particular trend noticed long ago and profiled was the establishment of Jihadist Herdsmen camps very close to military or policing formations and major roadblocks in Igbo Land such as in Obinze, Ohafia, Ukwa-Ngwa, Abakiliki, Ogbaru, Elele, etc.
10. The upsurge in the Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen movement and occupation into Igbo Land is such that in some communities, their leaders don’t know that their distant bushes are already under their grip. In others, the community leaders are found to have colluded with Government or the leaders of the Jihadists to let them in. There are situations, too, where some community leaders declined to comb their bushes off the invaders for fear of being killed or ‘wiped out’.
11. We at Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law have a track record of enviable repute. We documented and exposed the massacre of Shiite Muslims in the North. We documented and exposed the massacre of Northern Christians which also received wide international media coverage and we documented and exposed the massacre of our Igbo brothers and sisters during the military operations in old Eastern Nigeria: 2015-2017. We have also since 2018 and 2019; and before then, exposed the gross lopsided composition and domination of key military and policing formations in the Southeast and South-south by Northern Fulani and Hausa Muslims; and we documented and exposed the military and police roadblock extortion and other corrupt and brutality practices on old Eastern Nigeria roads.
12. Therefore, we boldly wish to submit again that all the Igbo communities mentioned in the work are under ‘active or passive’ Jihadist Herdsmen occupation. The work is both ‘lawyerly’ and criminological; the world’s best combination in matters of securitization research or investigation. If Mmiata-Anam Community in Anambra West LGA, for instance, was attacked last year and six killed and the Jihadists temporarily relocated to neighboring areas, ‘in legal and criminological research’, the Community is inclusive in the list of those under Jihadist Herdsmen occupation; likewise another facing periodic or constant raiding of its farmlands or bushes from a Jihadist Fulani camp in a nearby village or community.
13. Therefore, an Igbo Community or Village or Location under Jihadist Fulani Occupation is that occupied permanently or temporarily or being raided constantly or facing periodic or constant attacks from within or nearby. It is also criminal or malicious occupation when a group of violent including armed citizens; with track records of bloodshed and religious radicalism forcibly or illegitimately enter and occupy permanently or temporarily a farmland or bush or forest belonging not to them; done outside the consent of the owners or threatening them with fears and violence or maliciously inducing them with money or material things so as to secure or gain access.
14. Our attention has also been drawn to the fact that there are other communities not captured in our work. Some natives from at least three of such communities have called us, seeking for the inclusion of their communities. They include Ohofia-Agba in Isielu LGA of Ebonyi State and Umuomaku in Orumba South LGA of Anambra State. Some also called complaining that there are some communities not included in Idemmili South LGA of Anambra State.
15. Pathetically, one of the messages we received late last night has this to say “they (Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen) took away our farmlands since 2015. The whole villages of Onicha-Agu and Umunevo in Amagunze (Nkanu East Local Government Area of Enugu State) used to farm in the area. Since then, we have been buying everything (foodstuff/agricultural produce) from the market. They destroyed all our farmlands and crops then and have since occupied the area now bigger than the two villages”.
16. Finally, as a people, we must not lose the focus of the research work which is not debate or argument from the thinkers and tinkerers’ points of view; but to be in the graphic know of the dire situation in our beloved Igbo Land so as to work towards finding workable solutions to same. We profoundly appreciate all those that have read the work, especially those that read and reached out to us through phone calls or electronic messages.
Board Chair, Intersociety
30th May 2020