Life has reportedly refused to return to normal in the agrarian community of Abi in Enugu state, following an attack by herdsmen at the Uzo Uwanilocal council area. Breaking Times reports that the villagers in the community are still counting their loses after the attack on Tuesday, February 9, from the suspected herdsmen.
The attack led to the loss of lives as-well-as the destruction of property worth millions of naira. Sources disclose that most of the villagers no longer have a roof over their heads and live under trees because of the destruction of their houses by the rampaging cattle rustlers. An unnamed eyewitness revealed that the terror unleashed on Abi Community by the herdsmen was occasioned by the killing of one of the herdsmen who defiantly grazed his cattle in a cassava farm that belonged to the villagers.
Another source said that the excesses of the Fulani herdsmen had been a burden on the community, even as they are tolerated among the natives. “There have been successive stories of Fulani grazing in their farms and intimidating them with firearms, raping their women in their farms as well as maiming anyone that dared challenge them. This may not be unconnected to the fact that Hausas live in many parts of the local government which shares a common boundary with Kogi state (a north-central state). “Thus, most of the Fulanis even have their own houses, mosque and school in the LG.
But the major challenge between them has been the issue of the visitors operating without restriction and even ready to kill anyone who questions their will,” the source said. A native, Ezeugwu Emmanuel, said: “We were all in the farm when more than 20 of them arrived, some covering their faces. They shot me from the back but I escaped.” Ezeugwu narrated that 51-year-old Felix Okozie wasn’t as lucky as he was. Okozie was shot at the back and the chest at his cocoa yam farm. As he tried to run, the assailants closed up on him and butchered him with their cutlasses. According to Ezeugwu, the assailants, as soon as they gained entrance into the village square, set many choice houses ablaze with gallons of petrol in their possession.
While some of them still targeted and shot at the villagers. He said that Mrs Mercy Anyaogu (54) and her first daughter Ugochukwu Okezie were shot as they scampered for safety. Unfortunately, because of her bullet wound, Mrs Mercy Anyaogu couldn’t get far before they closed up on her and butchered her. Mr Felix Ugwuoke , a native, said the assailants, suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, burnt his three room apartment and kitchen to ashes while he was still in the farm; everything was burnt to ashes before his return.
“This cloth I’m wearing was given to me by my neighbour who noticed that I was left with only farm cloth I came back with; that is the only cloth in my life now. My two wives and some of my 10 children have left to various places they could find shelter but I have no place to go, which is why I am sleeping under the tree,” Ugwuoke said. Ugwuoke and many other Abi villagers are pleading to the government and the police authorities to carry out a thorough investigation of the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Attempts to reach the Enugu state police command spokesman, Mr Ebere Amaraizu, on how far the police have gone with their investigations proved abortive. There have been a series of clashes between cattle rustlers and farmers in various parts of the country, it would be recalled that about 300 people were recently confirmed dead following a siege on Agatu local government area of Benue state.
Traditional rulers in Ijebu-Igbo area of Ogun state also claimed recently that farmlands had been destroyed and women raped by Fulani herdsmen in the area. President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered an investigation into the incessant bloody clashes between Fulani herdsmen and various rural farming communities where the itinerant herdsmen graze their cattle.The president urged Nigerians to live in peace and unity.