In spite of using “fake soldiers” to apprehend 79 people from their community, get them arranged in a suspicious manner, and got them detained in prison, the Fulani Terrorist who arranged the act, are planning a massive attack on the community, investigations have revealed.
The Ugwuleshi autonomous community in Awgu district of Enugu Province Biafra land, for a long time, has been having issues with the Fulani terrorist, but reports they made to the police were unfortunately turned against them each time, as the police waved them away, telling them they were the aggressors and there is nothing they could do. But, the protest by youths of the community against the unprovoked and ceaseless attacks by the Fulani Terrorist, immediately brought in some people described as “fake soldiers” by military authorities, who apprehended more than 79 persons, immediately prepared First Information Report (FIR) against them and dragged them before Magistrate Courts in Abia. Immediately, they were instantly detained, even without a word from any lawyer on their behalf or a word to their community or relations.
Even as the mystery behind the arrest, arraignment and detention is being investigated, there is growing fears in the agrarian community bothering Lokpanta in Abia State that the herdsmen and their sponsors are re-strategising to carry out heavy armed attack on them. Like Agatu and other places, the Fulani terrorist wants to carry out “occupation by conquest”; they are confident they will do it, after all, they did it severally and nothing happened to them.
Investigations by The AUTHORITY a west African news company revealed that even though the Fulani terrorist were not officially granted any portion of land for grazing by the Ugwuleshi community for residence or grazing of their cattle, they had since manipulated the advantage of the proximity of the cattle settlement at Umunneochi/Ihube, Okigwe, Abia State, and sneaked into Ugwuleshi community and settled at the fringes of the community. For long, they have been there but never molested anybody until two years ago, when they began to exhibit some lawless and murderous tendencies and even raping women and young girls.
However, after successfully attacking several communities in parts of the country without any word by the authorities, the Fulani terrirst now feel they can operate with impunity, which is why they did what they did in the community and are now planning a full-scale attack to annihilate them.
Apart from what we have gathered so far, the traditional ruler of Ugwuelshi, Igwe Nwobi informed that the fulani terrorist gradually settled at the fringes of their community in the past one decade, complaints of destruction of farm crops of the citizens have continued to be on the increase and that the police did nothing about it. He added that it was due to growing tension between his people and the Fulani terrorist that he he organised a combined meeting with the Fulanileaders, the various village heads and security operatives within the community in 2013. It was agreed that the meeting that the herdsmen must stop grazing their cattle on cultivated farmlands. Alternatively, the herdsmen were given the option to vacate from the community, if they were not comfortable with the agreement. The herdsmen breached all terms of the agreement.
Our correspondent gathered that attempts to checkmate the growing incidences of these menace by the citizens led to the current ugly incident of the detention of the farmers for 15 days. They were however granted bail on April 1, as a result of the intervention of both the Enugu and Abia state governors: Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Chief Okezie Ikpeazu.
According to the FIR, they were charged for illegal possession of firearms and attempt to commit arson. They were detained on March 17, granted bail on April 1 and were asked to report back on April 29. The farmers however pleaded they were not guilty to all the allegations.
Prompted by the information at our disposal and given the hue and cry the activities of herdsmen have been generating, The AUTHORITY on Sunday went to Ugwuleshi community and even learnt that the arrested farmers had on that fateful day (March 17), divided themselves into a search party to possibly rescue two women who were allegedly abducted by some unknown herdsmen, but had not gone deep into the search mission before they were surrounded and bundled into some already steaming Army vehicles and whisked off to Umuahia in Abia State, instead of Enugu, the headquarters of 82 Division of the Nigerian Army and the place that has legal jurisdiction to try such matter.
Up till now, the community insists that should the Army who had denied knowledge of the mission of the soldiers not back off, their sponsors and motive would be unraveled. They would also be a veritable source for unraveling how Fulani terrorist attack and destroy communities in parts of the country.
Even as the Enugu State Government intervened the villagers are currently living in fears. Governor Ugwuanyi who visited and
held a meeting with the them on Tuesday, March 29, expressed hope that his administration would delve and resolve the matter amicably, just as it dealt with similar incidences in some communities in Uzo Uwani and Nsukka LGAs.
In separate reactions the Traditional ruler of Ugwuleshi community, Igwe Godwin Nwobi and many indigents of Ugwuleshi community said the farmers were arrested on trumped up charges. He said that in as much as their people especially the farmers have suffered severe pains over the ravaging of their farmlands they never at any time took up arms against the visitors, insisting they are illegal occupants and do not possess their permission to stay on their community or do any business there.
While commending the efforts of the Enugu state Governor Ugwuanyi in calming fraying nerves and reducing tension, Igwe Nwobi appealed to the Federal Government to find lasting solutions to the problems.
He stated: “My cabinet and the rest of Ugwuleshi community in no small measure appreciates the intervention of the Enugu state Governor in this ugly matter. But I am equally using this opportunity to appeal to the Federal Government especially, President Muhammadu Buhari, to initiate urgent steps aimed at resolving the problem. I do not want what happened in Agatu, Benue state, where people were killed, several houses and farmlands destroyed to happen here”.
Also, Hon. Nelson Uduji, Member, representing Awgu South Constituency in the Enugu State House of Assembly, explained that they went through arduous task in securing bail for the detained farmers and expressed gratitude to the governor and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, in whose district the incident occurred, as well as Hon. Toby Okechukwu, Member representing Awgu/Aninri/Oji River Federal Constituency for their contributions that facilitated the bail.
However, Hon Uduji expressed worries that the psychological trauma of the incident will impact negatively on the attitude of the farmers within this planting season, adding that fear of the unknown have seized his people. He complained that the Fulani terrorist are already behaving as emperors of the community and appealed for government intervention.
On his part, Chief Edwin Ezeh, a community leader said he at a loss on how to repair the loan he secured from a commercial bank to cultivate about seven hectares of cassava plantation, adding that the Fulani have turned his cassava plantation into a grazing ground. According to him, the various reports he made to the law enforcement agencies did not yield any result., stressing that while the police looked on without action the herdsmen have put up a residential tatch house within his cassava farm.
Another farmer, Mr Emmanuel Nwafor, showed our reporter where he was given a matchet cut on the head by a Fulani herdsman while he complained about grazing on his farm land.
One of the arrested farmers, Obinna Okeke, narrated horrible experiences in the hand of their abductors, wondering if the military authorities would not probe what happened to them.
The Youth leader, Izunna Umeokeke, also lamented that in addition to the unjust intimidation and arrest of his people, it is disheartening that several of the farmers were not given back their cell phones and money collected from them before they were jam-packed into detention. He urged the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to investigate the issues so that the poor farmers will recover their cell phones and their money .