Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 8 November 2016 | 3,790 times
A devastating attack by herdsmen on Ndi Okereke Abam, a rural community in Ovukwu autonomous community of Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State, has left six persons battling for their life and scores wounded.
Witnesses said a bloodier clash was averted in the area by the time arrival of the Abia State Commissioner of Police, Leye Oyebade, who is also the state Chairman of the Farmers/Herdsmen Committee and the team of policemen from Arochukwu and Ozu Abam as the herdsmen were said to have opened fire on youths of the community.
News Express learnt that trouble started in the agrarian community when the herdsmen invaded a rice farm in the area with their cattle which feasted on a heap of harvested grains and engaged and when the owners protested, the herdsmen attacked them.
President-General of the town union, Chief Chukwuma Egbuta Okubi, who narrated the ordeal of the villagers to newsmen, said the incident happened last Friday when the herdsmen led their cattle into their farms, destroying crops in the process.
Okubi alleged that the herdsmen “uprooted our cassava and yam for the cows to eat,” adding: “They left the grass they normally graze on to destroy the crops which are our only source of livelihood.”
“On Friday afternoon,” Okubi continued, “when one of our men went to his rice farm with his family members to carry home harvested rice, he saw that the herdsmen had led their cattle to the heap of harvested rice and the animals were feeding on it.
“The plea of the farmer to the herdsmen to take their herd of cattle away from the rice farm fell on deaf ears as they rather drew their machete and gave several cuts on one of the men.”
At this point, he said, some members of the man’s family escaped and raised the alarm in the community which attracted the attention of the youths.
According to him, by the time the youths arrived the scene, the herdsmen who were charged for war, opened fire on them and inflicted machete cuts on them, leaving six of them fatally wounded.
Though no death was reported, it was gathered that one person who was allegedly shot narrowly escaped death but was hit on his arm.
Those injured were rushed to hospital where experts were treating them of gunshot wounds and matchete cuts.
Okubi recalled that the indigenes had asked the herdsmen to leave the community after a quarrel over the same issue of destruction of their farmlands and crops but they returned after some time with a promise not to destroy crops. He said the truce that had existed since then was broken last Friday.
He pointed out that the visit of the Transition Committee Chairman of the local government, Chief Ama Abraham, with his deputy, Prince Kingsley Ngunu, also helped to douse the potentially explosive tension.
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Nta Ogbonnaya Nta, confirmed the incident. He said that the Commissioner of Police was handling the matter and declined comments on the casualties.
Recently, the Police Commissioner told newsmen in his office that the Farmers/Herdsman Committee has developed a template that would curb clashes between farmers and herdsmen in the state.
•Photo shows herdsmen.
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