Tension, anxiety as herdsmen cause mayhem in Akoko-Edo

Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State


Call For Military Presence

Akoko-Edo local government area of Edo State, which tagged itself as the oldest and largest council in Nigeria has been in the news for the wrong reason in the past three weeks.There have been reported attacks, killings and kidnappings by herdsmen in several villages in the area, with little or no resistance and not much effort to curtail it by security agencies.
 
Irked by the security challenge, traditional rulers in all the 42 villages and communities that make up the local government area, recently called on the federal and state governments to come to their rescue.Chairman, Akoko-Edo Traditional Council, HRH, Oba Okhishimede Eshimokhai Idogu III, the Olokpe of Okpe, who presided over a closed door meeting of the council told The Guardian: “We, the Akoko-Edo traditional rulers condemn, in their entirety, the recent attacks on some parts of our peaceful and hospitable local government by scallywags suspected to be Fulani herdsmen and, therefore, heartily send our sympathy to those who either lost their loved ones or sustained injuries quick recovery.”
 
He appealed to the good and peace-loving Akoko-Edo people to remain calm and law-abiding, as steps were being taken by them (traditional rulers) to seek lasting solutions to the issue.He said a high-powered delegation saddled with the task of transmitting undisclosed resolutions reached at the meeting to the Governor of Edo State, His Excellency, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, was appointed.

 
In a related development, the Otaru of Igarra, Oba Emmanuel Adeche Saiki II, has appealed to the federal and state governments to rescue the community from incessant attacks by Fulani herdsmen, calling for the deployment of soldiers in the area.He lamented that their women are being raped everyday in their farms, noting that farming, which is their major occupation, is dying because people no longer go to farms due to fear of being killed.
  
He said: As a citizen and a king, I have never witnessed this kind of insecurity in this area before. Every other day, every week, all around this LGA and environs, these herdsmen and their cohorts are kidnapping our people. They rape our girls and women in the farms; rob them even as they destroy our crops with their activities. We are just coming from an emergency meeting of Akoko-Edo Traditional Council. And the emergency meeting was caused by the latest onslaught of suspected Fulani herdsmen on Egbigere, Ikpeshi, Okpe and Enwan communities in which the driver of a school bus was killed and a pastor, a woman and school children were kidnapped.
  
“I would like to commend the efforts of our hunters and vigilante groups. They pursued the invading armed robbers, caught them and brought them to the police.
“As it is now, many labourers and miners from the neighbouring Atte village did not come to work because everybody is scared now and that has crippled the economy in this place.“People are afraid due to the attack over the weekend. I would appeal to both state and federal governments to deploy soldiers here to protect us because we have no other occupation than farming.”
   
It would be recalled that miscreants suspected to be Fulani herdsmen have attacked Imoga, Ojah, Igarra, Okpe and Ikpeshi communities.First, it was the case of a farmer identified as Arowolo Jerome, who lost his right wrist to attack by herdsmen in his farm. Five Fulani herdsmen he met on the way to his farm attacked him. The cutlass that cut his wrist was aimed at his neck, but he used his hand to block it and it severed his wrist. Two of the attackers were arrested and handed over to the Area Command of the Nigerian Police in Auchi.
   
The community staged a protest against the herdsmen first to the palace of their traditional ruler, Ifeabeka II of Ojah, Chief Lawani, who said: “The constitution does not permit such persons to kill the people they are living with. The constitution does not also say you should take the property of the person you have sojourned in his land or covet it. These are the things the Fulani are doing that is making my people to start crying for help.”
 
The people later travelled to Igarra, the local government’s headquarters to express their grievances.Barely two days after the protest, the Vice Chairman of Arewa Community in the local government, Hassan Usman who is a cattle retailer in Igarra, was seriously injured and battling between life and death in a hospital in Auchi, Etsako West local government area. Usman usually goes into the forest to buy cattle from rearers and retail to customers. 
  
A group of herdsmen were said to have lured Usman into the bush purportedly to buy cows and in the process attacked him with machete. He later died of injuries after several operations.Confirming the incident to journalists in Benin, chairman of the community in the locality, Muhammed Umar Dankuruku, said the cuts affected Hassan’s brain and had undergone surgery but that the victim was still unconscious as at Friday, five days after the attack.
 
He said the assailants were using the victim’s phone to call his contacts demanding for ransom, saying Hassan was in their custody. Few days later, three persons were reportedly kidnapped at a quarry site in Igarra.A local vigilante personnel confirmed the incident, saying it happened in the morning, when the victims reported for work at the site.
 
It was gathered that the kidnappers have started negotiations with the families, as well as the victims’ employers and are said to be demanding for ransom.
About 24 hours earlier, three persons in Imoga in the same council were inflicted with machete injuries and are currently receiving treatment in an undisclosed hospital in Ibillo.

The herdsmen have settled in the northern flank of Imoga land, which is the boundary village between Edo and Kogi.The herdsmen are also said to have settled at Ogugu, Afeye and Ekor all in Akoko Edo and their presence is said to be creating tension and anxiety in the area.

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Godwin ObasekiHerdsmen


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