Serious tension is now brewing at the Ndi Okereke Abam Community in Ovukwu area of Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State, following reports that leaders of the community had resolved to avenge last week’s attack by Fulani herdsmen resulting in the wounding of seven persons by the alleged invaders.
The victims said that they were reportedly attacked by the Fulani herdsmen, who used AK 47 rifles, bows and arrows as well as bows and cutlasses among other dangerous weapons.
Sources told the South East Voice that unless something was done urgently by the Federal Government to assuage the feelings of the people of the rural community, the matter could escalate as the indigenous people had resolved to put a stop to the incessant raping of their wives and daughters by armed and rampaging herdsmen. However, apart from the Ovukwu Community which was very recent, investigations revealed that other communities were planning to protest the destructive activities of Fulani herdsmen as they believed that they had been pushed to the wall through their menacing activities.
Already aggrieved communities who had at one time or the other, fallen victim of the ugly invasion of the herdsmen have issued stern warnings that they would no longer fold their arms and watch the herdsmen rape and maim their people as well as destroy their crops.
Leaders of the community accused the Fulani herdsmen of not only invading their farms with their cattle but also uprooting their cassava plants to feed their cattle.
According to the President General of Ndi Okereke Abam Town Union, Chief Chukwuma Egbuta Okubi the herdsmen were in the habit of leading their cattle into farms of the people and destroying their crops in the process. “They left the grass they normally graze on to destroy the crops which are our only source of livelihood”, Okubi alleged.
He said that the community had in the past asked the herdsmen to leave the community due to their destructive activities but that they later returned with a promise not to destroy the crops and said that they had kept their promise of living peacefully until last week.
“Last Friday afternoon when one of our men went to his farm with his family members to harvest their rice, he saw that the herdsmen had led their cattle to feed on the heap of already harvested grains. “Instead of heeding the pleas of the owners to take their cattle away from the harvested rice, the marauders drew their machetes and inflicted several cuts on the farmers.
Some of the recent victims of Fulani herdsmen attack in the area included Ezekiel Ebong who hails from Akwa Ibom State and Amos Omoro from Bayelsa State, but had settled and farming in the community,” Okubi alleged. The member representing Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency in the National Assembly, Mr. Uko Nkole visited the community which is within his constituency and appealed for peaceful coexistence.
Nkole who visited those injured at the hospital and paid their medical bills urged the doctor to take proper care of the victims. Addressing the people and the leaders of Fulanis in the state, at the village hall of Ndiokereke Abam later, Nkole appealed to them to live in peace and respect each other’s rights so as to avoid clashes.
He expressed worry over the report of tension in the area and rushed back to assess the situation with a viewing to taking action that would prevent any further occurrence. Granting of grazing rights Also speaking on the occasion, the Security Adviser to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, Captain Awa Agwu, Rtd, reiterated the position of the government that the state has land for grazing “but because we are Nigerians the government would allow some level of understanding to prevail” before granting grazing rights to the herdsmen and urged the herdsmen to respect the magnanimity of the government by not invading farm lands.
In his remarks, the State Chairman of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders, Hassan Buba, expressed sadness over the ugly incident and promised that it would not happen again.
He assured that he would call an emergency meeting of all the Fulani in Abia State to look for a peaceful way for co-existence.
He, then, appealed to all the parties involved to always report any ugly incident to the appropriate authorities instead taking the laws into their hands. The Chairman of Farmers/Herdsmen Peace Committee and the state Commissioner of Police, Leye Oyebade have been making frantic effort to create a harmonious relationship between host communities and herdsmen, but his effort have not yielded fruitful dividends.