•Police, Kinsman, aided invasion
•Attackers armed with AK47, matchetes
•They thought I was dead; We want justice
After the cold-blooded massacre of over 50 persons including men, women and children by rampaging Fulani herdsmen at Ukpabi/Nimbo in Uzo-Uwani L.G.A, Enugu State, recently, news went round that a corp member from the area who just arrived home from national assignment, was among those who were killed. Fortunately, few weeks after the incident, it was discovered that the corper, Patrick Eze, 25, whose neck was precariously hanging on his head by the grace of a thin layer of flesh and ligaments after the attack, was rushed to the intensive unit of the Federal Orthopaedic Hospital, Enugu where doctors battled daily and succeeded in bringing him back to life, making him the fourteenth survivor of the attack.
The graduate of Public Administration from Enugu State University of Technology, ESUT, who also had several machete cuts on the head and other parts of his body spoke exclusively with our FRANCIS IGATA from his hospital bed. He had done about six surgeries and may still do more to see if he could use one of his hands again. He was in pains as he spoke.
HOW IT HAPPENED
“It was around 5.30AM, when we heard the village bell ringing, signalling danger. We heard voices from members of the village vigilante group warning that Fulani herdsmen were around. I was lying down when I heard the bell. I quickly stood up, wore my shoes and started running. Before the bell rang, we were hearing gun shots. It was after the bell that the gun shots increased.
I ran from Onueke where I live with my parents through Akaha-Unasi, a neighbouring community. The gun shots persisted. More villagers joined me in looking for safety. Midway, we heard that the Fulani’s were coming from Unasi and have taken over the village. I then decided to take another path where I started hearing the gunshots, too close to me. The bullets were piercing through the bushes and air. It was too much. I had to dodge by the bush to observe what was going on and detect where the gunshots were coming from in order to know which way to run.
While I was trying to do that, I then saw the herdsmen. They were over fifty surging towards me. The first person was wearing red. They were armed with AK47 rifles. They equally had machetes by their side. The first person attacked me with his machete. The guy on red. I ran away but they flung the machete and it cut my ankle. I fell down. They swooped on me, inflicting over 19 machete cuts and I became unconscious. They thought they had killed me. After some hours, I woke up. A man saw me. He came and asked me what happened but I could not talk. He quickly called the Vigilante Group and they took me from that farm to Bishop Shanahan Hospital,Nsukka from where I was later rushed to this hospital in Enugu.”
ARRESTED SUSPECTS SHOULD PAY THE PRICE
After he was informed that some of his suspected assailants have been arrested by the police, the fair complexioned 5-footer heaved a sigh of relief but beneath that, was a glaringly bottled up anger, simmering in intensity. And he quipped: “I am very happy with the arrest. They have to tell me why they attacked me in my own fatherland. They were boasting that they would attack us and they did. They have been benefiting from the vast arable land in my community to graze undisturbed.
They were beating their chest that they would chase us out of our fatherland since their brother is the Head of State. Every person they killed in that attack must be accounted for. The arrested suspects must say why they attacked us. They should tell me why they should kill my brothers and sisters in cold blood. They should face the law and serve the necessary punishment.
Before the invasion
“The herdsmen wrote two weeks to the attack, informing us that they would invade our community.. On coming back that April 21, my kinsmen told me of the impending danger. I asked them how would an attack be possible when the Fulani do not know the nooks and crannies of our village. They have been grazing in the other parts of Nimbo but I am sure they have not grazed in our villages. Where we ran to for safety, they have not grazed there since they came to Nimbo. It was one of our kinnsmen, Ben and the police Corporal that led them to our safe haven. That black Monday, we were alert till 5am until the policemen who were around said we should go and sleep. Then we went to bed. Barely 30mintues after, this incident happened. It was obvious that Ben and the Corporal led the onslaught.
Gov. Ugwuanyi to the rescue
“The visit of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State to my village changed the tide. The governor has been paying the hospital bill for all of us. We are about 14. Government is taking care of us fully.
MY FURTURE BRIGHT
“I thank God for everything. The bible says, “whatever situation you find yourself, give thanks and glory to God.” God delivered me and he will take care of my future.”
Distraught but equally joyous mother of the survivor, 51-year-old Madam Eze, a farmer spoke about the incident. “My son had stayed one year for NYSC in Jigawa State and so as a mother, I was longing to see him having finished the programme. His elder brother told him not to come but to start looking for job immediately. I insisted that he should come, at least , for me to see him. Moreover, I had eye surgery for an impairment and I really wanted to see my son before he moved to the larger world.
It was upon his visit after the NYSC service that this incident happened. I barely had time to stay with him because other corpers in the village were coming to see him before this incident happened on April 25. Now that some arrests have been made, government should ensure that they are prosecuted to bring some sought of relief to the families of bereaved ones. What ever happens, Nimbo community will never be the same again following this attack.”