Posted by News Express | 8 March 2020 | 869 times
By VICTOR SOROKWU, Asaba
The community of Issele-Azagba in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State has issued what it called a “save our souls” to the Presidency after a spate of deadly bandit attacks on its residents.
There have been 10 reported killings in the community since October, in attacks the community says has overwhelmed local vigilantes.
And more than 50 people have been taken hostage and ransomed in separate and repeated attacks on Isselle-Azagba and neighbouring communities of neighbouring Otulu, Ubulu-Okiti and Ogwashi-Uku. Residents in the community suspected herdsmen are behind the attacks but investigations indicate the coordinated attacks do not match the operation of herders.
“These attacks have become a very big problem to us. The vigilante and the government presence is here. The police have arrived and there is a serious patrol going on but we want more support,” Ben Illoh, president-general of Isselle-Azagba Development Union, told a press conference.
“For example, teachers are afraid to go and teach, it took serious efforts to get some of them back to school, and the presence of vigilante operatives has given them the courage to go to school,” he lamented.
The community youth leader, Edozie Ogoegbu said Isselle-Azagba had ever been home for all strangers, irrespective of tribe or religion, adding that bandits have taken advantage of indigenous hospitality to unleash terror on unsuspecting residents.
“Victims confirmed that these people are Fulani herdsmen from the language they speak and their physical appearance. We were told by those abducted that they were speaking Hausa,” he said.
“We are not trying to stereotype anybody, if a Fulani man is involved, nobody should shield him likewise an Igbo man or a Yorubaman, it is not about tribe. What we are saying is that we are under siege and vicious attacks. The people doing this are our enemies.
“They come with very sophisticated weapons which you cannot see around here. It is not war between us and Fulani, but war between us and bandits, criminals and killer herders,” Edozie stated.
The youth leader regretted the attacks have impacted adversely on the socio-economic life of the people, explaining that social activities were at the lowest level while farmers were too scared to go to their farms, while a good number of residents are relocating from the community.
But a resident non-indigene bus driver, who plies Asaba-Onitsha route, told Daily Trust that he was ambushed on the adjoining road that leads into the community last Wednesday at about 11pm as he was heading home after the day’s business.
“Six daredevil hoodlums, wielding deadly weapons and flashing torchlights, emerged from the nearby bush and another band emerged from the other side and had attempted to obstruct my way,” the bus driver recounted his experience in Igbo.
He continued: “I quickly changed my vehicle gear and stepped on the throttle, facing the band of bandits who had already swooped on the road, thereby frightening them to scamper for safety, while I zoomed off.
“I observed from the band that had advanced towards my bus that they had wanted to snatch the vehicle from me to embark on an operation that night. Few metres away, I came across the community vigilante group and reported my experience, but they were rather indifferent.
Since that incident, I realised that there is more to alleged Fulani herders’ attacks. In fact, from the look of things, the crimes seem to be very organised operations of crime syndicate.
“So, I have resolved to relocate from the community at the expiration of my rent,” he reflected. (Daily Trust)
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