By Wole Mosadomi, Minna
It was a day of anguish, agony and grief for three villages of Yelwa, Bina and Cheku in Lapai Local Government Area of Niger State. To be precise, Sunday June 6 is a day the people will always remember with pain due to invasion of their villages by some Fulani herdsmenÂ which at the end left no fewer than 14 people dead, while several others were left seriously injured.
It was a midnight attack and nobody expected it. The Fulani herdsmen were said to have come for a reprisal attack against the villagers three days after two people, one from one of the villages and a Fulani lost their lives after a disagreement over some farm lands on which the Fulani cattle were grazing.
The villagers who are predominantly farmers had repeatedly made it clear their farms were a no-go-area to grazing cattle as they do not want their farms destroyed. But this has not stopped theÂ Fulani from staking their claim on the land and protecting their cattle from any harm.
But what started as a mere disagreement between the two parties later escalated into a full blown conflict, especially after two lives were lost in the initial skirmish. Though the quick intervention of the State Police Command initially brought the â€œwarâ€ under control, the worst came three days later when the Fulani mobilised themselves and unleashed terror on Chekwu people and extended same to Yelwa and Bina villagers who had earlier served as their protector after the first incident.
Vanguard Metro reliably gathered that after the first crisis in Chekwu, the Fulani herdsmen temporarily took refuge at Yelwa and Bina villages. While the Yelwa and Bina were serving as â€œpeace keepersâ€, the Fulani were said to have secretly planned on how to re-launch an attack on the Chekwu people. But unknown to them, the Police had mounted security round the village. When the Fulani stormed Chekwu village, they met a brick wall on account of the police keeping vigil there.
To the Fulani, it was unacceptable and out of frustration decided to vent their anger on the two villages who have been their host and protectors the past few days. So, that fateful midnight, they mobilised their kinsmen and attacked the two villages and left no fewer than 12 people dead. In fact, the three villages were said to have been turned into a theatre of war as evidenced by pools of blood everywhere.
Besides the loss of lives, many others were maimed, while many houses were completely razed down by fire with property worth thousands of naira destroyed. The ugly development prompted residents of the three villages to flee their homes and take refuge in some neighbouring villages. The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Michael Zuokumor had dispatched more policemen to the warring communities and warned them to keep the peace.
Though some of the attackers are now on the run, the Commissioner said nine people have already been arrested by his men and are now helping the Police in their investigation.
The state governor, Dr. Muazu Babangida later led top government officials to the warring villages to condole them and to assess the extent of damages.
The Governor who expressed shock at the level of destruction warned the perpetrators to desist from the act and assured that those involved will be brought to book.
Government also sent relief materials to the affected villages to enable them start life afresh. The state House of Assembly Committee on Security led by it chairman, Alhaji Isah Mohammed Ibbi has also visited the warring areas and is also investigating the cause of the crisis.