The herdsmen, tribesmen and statesmen: Discordant cord of three strands

… affected communitiesa should form vigilante against foreign incursion – Umahi

…my father, three younger siblings were killed – 13 year old victim

…I can’t walk or sit down because of the bullet wounds on my body – 34 year old Victim

By Peter Okutu, Abakaliki


MORE revelations about the attack that took place in Ado Local Government Area of Benue State, yesterday emerged with victims of Ebonyi communities residing in Benue State giving details of their ordeals in the hands of their assailants.

Victims, in an interaction with Vanguard said over 300 Fulani herdsmen invaded their communities and killed many of them, including children.

Armed herdsmen last Sunday invaded Odoke Ishieke, Obakotara Ishieke and Ndiobasi Ishieke communities in the Ado Local Government Area of Benue State at 3am on Sunday and killed over 30 persons, including pregnant women and nursing mothers.

The Vanguard reports that the affected communities shared boundaries with the Ebony Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

The injured victims spoke while at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital 2, Abakaliki, where they are currently receiving treatment.

Governor David Umahi who visited the victims expressed sadness on the colossal loss of lives orchestrated by the senseless killings by the herders, wondered how human lives no longer mean much in the sensibilities of Nigerians.

According to him: “What I saw this afternoon is nothing but an act of wickedness and satanism, I do not know for any reason why people should be raping two-year-old children, putting a knife on one year old, killing little children, killing fathers and mothers for what reason, and what worries me most is that the Deputy Governor of Benue State came on air to say that they don’t know whether these people are from Benue State or Ebonyi State, that is a height of irresponsibility.

“We know we have boundary problem with Benue State but we have a buffer zone and these places are not within the buffer zone, these people are citizens of Benue State, paying their taxes in Benue State, facilities, everything in Benue State, yes, some of them are Ebonyi speaking people, we have Igbo speaking people in Edo State, in Rivers in Akwa Ibom and even beyond the shores of this country but that does not mean that security-wise, are responsible.

“Everything should not be reduced to blame games, people of Benue State should form their own kind of Ebubeagu to protect their people instead of blaming Mr. President, Mr. President cannot be everywhere.

“If they want to belong to Ebonyi, let Benue people allow them so that we can get that place and protect their lives. They will fail to protect them and still pretend that the place is in Benue State.”

The Governor advised AK-47 carrying herders and criminals to stay out of Ebonyi State as the state is not safe for them. “And let me warn, anybody that is not security agency with Ak-47, it doesn’t matter who you are, if you come to Ebonyi with it, you must be fought to a standstill. Whether it is sticks, sand, or fire, anything we see, we will use and fight you.

“Enough of this madness; it is sheer madness. This kind of wickedness can bring a curse upon a nation; it’s not acceptable.

“When madness meets with madness, there is a balance of terror and sanity will return. We cannot fold our hands and watch our people slaughtered as such.”

He condemned the laxity of the Benue State Government in taking responsibility to protect their citizens who duly pay their taxes and other obligations to their State Government, noting that the Benue state government should have visited the hospital where their indigenes are receiving treatment before now.

He called on the Izhi-speaking people of Benue State to form a vigilante to protect themselves from foreign incursion instead of waiting on the Benue State Government that is averse to complaints than solutions.

He promised to foot the medical bills, provide shelter and feeding of the victims receiving treatment at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki.

One of the victims, a 23-year-old Chinyere Uduka, said the assailants invaded their house and inflicted machete injuries on them, while shooting sporadically.

She said they were far deep asleep when the herdsmen struck and started attacking them and burning down houses in the communities.

According to her, “My name is Chinyere Uduka. I am from Nwori village, Nwaobasi community in the Ado Local Government Area of Benue State. I am 23 years old.
It’s was in the morning of Sunday, May 30, 2021, at exactly 3.30am in the morning. Myself and all my sisters were all asleep and what I heard was a serious bang on the door and when I opened eyes I saw flashings of torchlight, very many of them.

“Before I knew what was happening, they started inflicting machete cuts on us and it was then that we started jumping from windows and as I was running, they started shooting and they shot me in the legs. That’s way I’m here in the hospital. I can’t walk now. The Fulani herdsmen that attacked us, are up to 300.”

Another victim, 13-year-old Udaga Lebechi, told The Vanguard that her father and three younger siblings were killed in the attack.

He said, “It was the Fulani people that attacked us at Odoke community in the Ado Local Government Area of Benue State.

“It was on around 3am on Sunday morning. They came numbering more than 300 of them and stated cutting us with their cutlasses. Myself and three of my siblings were attacked. I am 13 years old. They killed many people from my community and many of our kindreds are still missing. They killed my father and my three little ones.”

Another victim, who managed to talk to Vanguard owing to the deteriorated state of his health, said, “My name is Steven Nwali. I’m from Ishieke Obakotara in the Ebonyi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, but I’m based in Odoke community in Ado Local Government Area of the state. But we are neither in Benue State nor in Ebonyi State.

“I am 34 years old and it’s was on May 30, 2021, when herdsmen attacked the community at about 2.30am on that Sunday. They were more than 300 of them. They killed our people; and infact they killed more than half of the population of the community.

“Currently, you can see I can’t walk or sit down, because of the bullet wounds on my body now. It’s a terrible situation. Government should intervene.”

The Chairman of Ebonyi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, Mrs Chinyere Nwaogbaga, who began evacuation of the victims to the Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital 2, Abakaliki, on Sunday, said many lives were lost to the crisis.

She stated this while fielding questions from Journalists at the AE-FUTHA 2, Abakaliki, on Tuesday.

According to her, “It was on the 29th of May, 2021 (Saturday), that we got a report that Fulani herdsmen were going to attack us in Ebonyi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. When that report came, I informed the security agencies and others and everybody was on the alert.

“So, we didn’t know that it was on Sunday that these Fulani people would attack the Izzi and Ebonyi LGAs natives resident in the Ado Local Government Area of Benue State.

“They said they were up to 300 of these Fulani herdsmen that attacked Nwori Nwaobasi, Odoke and Obakotara communities in the Ado LGA of Benue State, which is inhabited mostly by Ebonyi people.

“When we got there, we saw that many people were killed and that many houses were burnt. I informed the governor and he immediately directed that we start evacuating them; and we didn’t waste time in evacuating them. That’s why the victims are here in this hospital.

“That place now is under dispute. We have gone to Benue, Enugu and to the National Boundary Commission (Abuja). While some people in Benue say the place belongs to Benue, others in Ebonyi speaking areas in that place, say it belongs to Ebonyi State. But for now, it’s in Benue State.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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