Enugu women cry out over herdsmen attacks, harassment

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fulani_herdsmen_5The women of Ibute Nze, a town in the Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State, have cried out over persistent attacks and harassment by suspected Fulani herdsmen in the community.

The women gathered at the village square to protest against the development.

The protest coincided with the presentation of relief materials donated to the community by the Association of Enugu State Indigenes in Japan.

The women, who turned out in large numbers, said they had had enough of rape and destruction of their farms by the herdsmen.

According to the women, said most of them had fallen victim to the antics of the herdsmen, who invaded their farms three times within the week.

They disclosed that the herdsmen, who were armed with guns and other dangerous weapons, chased farmers away from the farms and fed their cows on the crops.

Narrating her ordeal at the hands of the herdsmen to journalists, one of the women, Mrs. Caroline Eze said, “I was in the farm working with my daughter on Wednesday when they came.

“I pleaded with them not to enter my farm but they warned me to leave or I would lose my life.

“At that point, I ran away with my daughter.

“The next day, one of our relations went to the farm and discovered that the entire cassava farm was gone.

“The herdsmen were also here on Tuesday, and on Wednesday they returned and finished what was left.

“As I speak with you, all my sufferings on the farm have ended in vain – I have nothing left with which to feed.

“How long shall government allow us to continue suffering in the hands of these people?”

Other women who spoke out during the protest, said the activities of the herdsmen have impoverished families in the community.

They also accused the herdsmen of raping some of the women and young girls who they accosted in the farms.

The traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Nodilim Onwukwe Nze, said he was deeply pained by the development.

The traditional ruler, who spoke to journalists, said it was shocking that herdsmen are still wreaking havoc in Enugu State despite the outrage expressed in several quarters over the attack on Ukpabi Nimbo in April.

He noted that the herdsmen had earlier threatened to attack Ibute Nze community.

Igwe Onwukwe, who explained that the said threat was reported to the police, expressed regrets that no action has been taken on the complaint.

The herdsmen became more troublesome since the last presidential election, the royal father observed.

The traditional ruler said, “They (herdsmen) have been here, causing problem, for a very long time.

“We have been managing them, but since last year, things became worse.

“Two weeks after Nimbo incident, we got information from two of our people who are very close to the herdsmen that they were coming to attack us.

“Our people fled their homes – people returned from the cities and collected their relatives.

“But the governor (Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi) later came, the leaders of the herdsmen were also here and assurances were given to our people that they would not be attacked.

“Initially they (herdsmen) denied making the threat, but we went to the service providers and the whole thing was clear.

“We are still waiting for the police to take action.

“We have told the governor that they (herdsmen) should leave our place for now, but they are still here even as at yesterday destroying farm lands.

“They uproot cassava, vegetables and other farm crops and feed their cows on them.

“The most painful part of is that most of these women borrowed money to cultivate those crops.

“How would they pay back?”

However, the traditional ruler stressed that the people of Ibute Nze would not fold their arms and wait for the herdsmen to attack them.

“It is now going to be like Nimbo where security was entrusted into the hands of the police but they failed – we are going to mobilise our youths to secure our people.

“All we are asking the state government is to give us the necessary support.

“We are no longer going to take it,” Igwe Onwukwe said. (Punch)

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