By Perez Brisibe
EWU—WOMEN of flood-ravaged Ewu-Urhobo community, Ughelli South Local Government Area, Delta State, have cried out that suspected herdsmen attack, rape and chase them away from their farmlands.
The women alleged that the armed herdsmen often claimed that all lands in the country belonged to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The women, who laid siege to the Ewu-Edjokota Road, penultimate Monday, as early as 6.00 am, alleged that the armed herdsmen, who take turns to defile them and maim those that refuse to yield to their lustful desires, feed their herds with their farm produce.
Besides attacking them in the farms, they further alleged that the herdsmen usually laid ambush and robbed traders going to local markets of their goods and flee into the bush.
Herdsmen grazing their cows in my farm attacked me — Atigogo
Recounting her ordeal to Vanguard, Madam Felicia Atigogo stated that she was attacked at her farm by two herdsmen when she tried to stop them from grazing their herds on her cassava farm.
“Owing to the flood that ravaged our community, I acquired another plot of land on lease only for the farm to be invaded by herds that were shepherd into the farm by these herdsmen.
“When I accosted them and tried to stop them from grazing their herd on my cassava, they brought out daggers and machetes and attacked me. I was lucky to have fled away.”
What triggered protest
One of the ladies in the community was not as lucky as Madam Atigogo as she died from wounds inflicted on her by herdsmen, who attacked her in her farm and tried to rape her.
A villager simply identified as Mama Ufuoma told NDV that her death sparked the latest protest.
“She was at her farm with one of her children weeding unknown to them that a group of herdsmen were within the vicinity. The herdsmen immediately pounced on her and tried to rape her.
“While trying to resist them amidst screams, they attacked her with their machetes leaving deep cuts on her and fled into the bush when people came to the scene. She was rushed to the hospital after losing a lot of blood, but died at the hospital,” she said.
They impudently claim Buhari owns all lands
– Woman leader
Woman leader of the community, Mrs. Queen Dieseruvwe, stated that the herdsmen now operate with effrontery, telling them that “all lands in Nigeria, including our communal lands belong to President Muhammadu Buhari.”
“They also claim that we have no rights to prevent them from grazing on our farms because President Muhammadu Buhari owns all the land in Nigeria, hence we cannot claim ownership of the land.
“They uproot our cassava, feed it to their herds and when you try to resist them, they attack you with machete and maim you if you are lucky as some others, or even shoot you.
“So, this is the reason we have barricaded the road as all efforts to reach the governor, police and other security agencies to evict these evil herdsmen from our community have been futile,” she explained.
…accuse Delta govt of neglect
Dieseruvwe also accused the Delta State government of allegedly neglecting the community, especially when their farmlands were destroyed by flood, saying, “This is not about politics of PDP or APC as we are here for the benefit of our community and we won’t leave until these herdsmen are ejected from our farms.”
“We have a government, but we do not feel its impact. How will representatives of the government feel if their wives, sisters and daughters are raped by herdsmen?
“Our farmlands and crops were destroyed as a result of the increase in water level, now we decided to get new locations in the upland only for us to be attacked by these herdsmen, who have been a big problem to us for the past 15 years.
Vehicular movement grounded
Findings by NDV showed that all forms of vehicular movement on the Ewu-Edjokota Road, the only access route linking over 14 communities in Ughelli North and Ughelli South local government areas were grounded as a result of the protest.
The women erected a barricade across the road with woods and set bonfire on both sides of the road, making it impossible to go around the blockade, while three canopies were assembled on the road, where they sat and danced to music blaring from a Disc Jockey.
Commuters were forced to abort their journey at the spot and trek long distance after maneuvering the blockade to the other side of the road where they board commercial motorcycles, popularly known as Okada to continue their trip.
…resist LGA chairmen, Army’s efforts to clear barricade
Efforts by the Ughelli South local council Chairman, Dr. Richard Kofi, his Ughelli North counterpart, Godwin Adode, the Ovie of Ogor kingdom, HRM Okiemute Igere I, and military operatives from the 222 Battalion, Agbarha-Otor to dismantle the barricade were fruitless, as the women insisted the only condition to evacuate the road was immediate eviction of all herdsmen from the area.
We’re doing everything to fish out perpetrators—Muslim community
Condemning the attacks on the women, leader of the Muslim community in Ughelli South, Imam Muhammad Okotie, said: “The Muslim community condemns these attacks and we are doing everything to ensure that these bad herdsmen are brought to book. We are also trying to make sure that Muslims in the area leave in harmony with the locals.”