BY ANAYO OKOLI/UGOCHUKWU ALARIBE
UMUAHIA—PERHAPS due to the work of the committee headed by the State Commissioner of Police, which handles issues between herdsmen and farmers in the, clashes between them have been on the decline until last week when a Fulani herdsman brazenly attacked a lady in Aba, for her temerity to challenge them for leading in front of her shop.
The herdsman, Salisu Garba, in the course of the attack allegedly cut off four fingers of the lady, a shop owner, Esther Ibem Nmecha.
South East Voice gathered that Garuba was leading his cows along No 1 Pepples Road, Ogbor-Hill, Aba, when the victim confronted him and urged him to take the animals away from her business premises where she sells drinks.
Narrating her ordeal in the hands of the herdsman, Esther Nmecha said; “On Sunday 31st of March, around 4:37pm, I was going to my shop at No.1 Pepples Road, Ogbor Hill. I couldn’t pass or enter my shop because a herdsman blocked the way with his cows.
“I asked the herdsman to move the cows out of the shop area, but the he threatened to cut off my head. I thought it was a joke and insisted that the herdsman moved his cow, but before I could know what was happening, he hit me with a stick. As if that was not enough, he brought out a machete, trying to cut off my head, I defended it with my hand and it cut off my four fingers. People were not around.
“When the herdsman saw that blood was gushing out and that my cries attracted attention, he ran away, I pursued him with the blood and was shouting. I ran to the military checkpoint near the area and reported the incident and the soldiers arrested him. But they knelt him down and flogged him with his machete before handing him over to the police”.
Nmecha, who is currently receiving treatment at the Abia State University Teaching, ABSUTH, Aba, hails from Asaga in Ohafia council area of the State.
Arraigned in court
On the strength of the offence he committed, the Abia State Police Command has arraigned him in court for murder and he has been remanded in prison custody. The Abia State police command spokesman, Geoffrey Ogbonna, a superintendent of police, confirmed the incident and the arraignment.
Abia govt to offset medical bills
Meanwhile, the Abia State Government has pledged to offset the medical bills of the victim. Mrs. Nkechi Ikpeazu, the wife of the Abia State governor made the pledge when visited the victim at the ABSUTH, Aba, last Friday. She also assured her that the government would ensure that she gets justice as well.
According to her, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu was aware of the incident and had directed that Nmecha be given every necessary medical attention she deserves. The governor’s wife also said that the government was working hard to ensure that a recurrence of such act was not witnessed in the state again.
“I just came back and heard about what happened and I decided to visit the victim. The governor has said that the government will settle every medical bill. I am therefore pleading with the hospital management to do whatever you can and be assured that government will take care of everything.
“I know that the man who did this is already in the custody and the government is not keeping silent. Something must be done to see that we don’t have this kind of thing again”, Mrs. Ikpeazu said.
In his remarks, the Chief Executive, Hospital Management Board, HMB, Abia State, Dr. Ngozi Nduka, said that efforts were on ground to get specialists to see how the victim could still make use of her severed left hand.
“We have prosthesis. We are going to invite plastic surgeons to see what they can do. The fingers are already off. We are not going to fix them back because they didn’t come with her. She came here without those fingers. If the plastic surgeons want to have her fingers fixed with prosthesis (artificial fingers) then she can still use those fingers.
“Thank God it is on her left fingers except if she is left handed. So, I believe that with the plastic surgeons coming in, there could be some forms of rehabilitation to ensure that her fingers are still usable.”