By Festus Ahon & Ochuko Akuopha
OLEH—THOUSANDS of women of Ossissa, Ndokwa East Local Government Area, Delta State, yesterday, barricaded the community’s axis of the Ughelli-Asaba Expressway, protesting alleged invasion and incessant attacks by Fulani herdsmen.
Commuters and other users of the busy road were trapped in gridlock for several hours as the protesters, who besieged the road at about 5.30 a.m. displayed placards and chanted protest songs.
Some of the protesters who spoke to Vanguard alleged incessant incidents of brutal attacks on the community’s men and rape of women in their farmlands by the herdsmen as well as destruction of their crops.
One of the women, Mrs. Grace Oliseyeun, said the community had been in panic over the last three days as a result of activities of the herdsmen.
She said: “The herdsmen have invaded our community and have been constantly harassing our women and youths and now, we can no longer go to our farms for fear of being attacked. They have been very hostile and the life of everyone is in danger.”
Also speaking on the development, Youth President of Ossissa clan, Mr. Chris Ebisue said: “In the past three days, they have been terrorizing us and two days ago, they killed a young man who was on his way from his farm.
“They have been attacking our people and denying them access to their farms. They threaten our women and the women no longer go to their farms because of fear of being raped. They came to the centre of our town the day before yesterday (Saturday), issuing threats to our people and wounded Mr. Azuka Okwutu and Chukwuemeka Nwane.
“Before now, we wrote to the state government and those in charge of conflict resolution convened a meeting between us and the herdsmen on April 20, 2016 where a 10-day ultimatum was given to them to vacate the community. Instead of complying with the resolution, they went back to re-enforce and since then it has been hell here”.
Insisting that the herdsmen came into the community without the consent of the people, he said: “We are calling on the state government to evacuate them from our land because they are not friendly; they are very harmful to us. We are not ready to bargain with them to prolong their stay here.”
Efforts to reach the police hierarchy in the state on the development proved abortive at press time.
However, a Senior Police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the police was on top the issue, claiming some policemen had been deployed in the area to keep peace and clear the barricades to allow for free flow of traffic.