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Published On: Mon, Dec 29th, 2014

Tension in Abia community as villagers, herdsmen clash

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Fear has enveloped the people of Okporenyi village, in Bende community, Bende council area of Abia state, following a face-off with suspected Fulani herdsmen, with threats by the cattle-rearers to attack the village any time soon if their cows, allegedly rustled by the villagers, were not produced.

According to a member of the village, trouble started at the eve of Christmas, when a group of herdsmen suddenly surged up in the village threatening to raid the village if they failed to locate their missing cows.

The source said that after the warning, the herdsmen, at the wee hours of the following day, invaded farmlands in the village with their flock, which destroyed a lot of crops.

According to the source, farmlands in the village had come under incessant attacks by cows of Fulani herdsmen but complaints by the villagers had fallen on deaf ears.

The source further said that after few days, the herdsmen came to the village again, this time with some policemen, alleging that they were searching for one of their cattle-rearers – a little boy.

The source added that an attempt by one of the villagers simply identified as Onyi to exonerate the village from any involvement in the whereabouts of the allegedly missing boy earned him the wrath of one of the herdsmen who gave him a machete cut in the upper arm as he (Onyi) wanted to defend himself against the attack despite the presence of the police.

The source said the Police did not however take it kindly with the invader as he was seriously upbraided.

According to him, the villagers are now living in fear of imminent raid by the herdsmen, who have attacked some communities in the Middle Belt as well as part of Enugu state in the recent times over grazing land.

The source said it was unthinkable for landlords to live in dread of strangers in their own land, and appealed to Abia State government to quickly come to their aid.

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr.Geoffrey Ogbonna, confirmed the incident but said ” Police is on top of the situation.”

The PPRO said talks had been initiated with both parties with a view to resolving the face-off.

He assured the villagers of full protection of their lives and property but advised them not to take the laws into their hands. (NAN)

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