May 07, 2016

Enugu killings: Herdsmen celebrated as they slit our kinsmen’s throats


The people of Opanda-Nimbo,Enugu state are still living in fear after Fulani herdsmen struck on April 25, 2016,killing scores of them.A young soldier at the Omasi Agu checkpoint who spoke with a Punch correspondent put it this way,
“We have been here for a week now looking for them (herdsmen) but we have not been able to see  any of them.“We have been given the order to engage them if we sight them.”
Asked whether they could confront the Fulani herdsmen who were reported to wield sophisticated weapons, the soldier said,

“If we sight them, we will just crush them. We have RPG which they don’t have. They can’t afford it; it is a kind of bomb.”

Continuing, the soldier said,
“Not all Fulani herdsmen are bad. From our findings, the more dangerous ones are the Fulani herdsmen that are dark in complexion. The fair Fulanis are not bad.
“Before we came, the people of this area (Omari Agu) complained that they were being disturbed by those herdsmen but since we came, we have not seen any of them (herdsmen),” the soldier stated.
From Opanda in Enugu State, some three kilometres to the scene of the incident, the situation was hopeless and deserted; shops, schools and markets remained closed as at Wednesday and Thursday when our correspondent was in the area.

 At the palace of the traditional ruler of Nimbo, Chief John Akor, a cluster of policemen were seated under a mango tree, guarding the palace.

The monarch who said it was wrong to call the herdsmen Fulani, noted that the herdsmen came in from neighbouring Kogi State.
He said, “The killing happened in three villages out of the 10 villages that make up Nimbo. The villages are Ugu Echera, Ngwoko and Unasi.
“The attack happened between 6.30am and 7.30am that day when we started getting distress calls, suggesting that herdsmen were attacking our people in the three villages.
“The herdsmen were killing most of their victims by slitting their throats with machetes and swords. They were even celebrating the massacre. Our people were slaughtered like fowls and yet, nobody has been arrested to account for such evil.“What I’m sure of is this:  12 persons died on that day and one died yesterday (Wednesday) at the last count. Many are still in hospital with serious injuries.
“One Holy Christ Church (Odozi Obodo) was burnt. The pastor’s house was also burnt.
“We have the names of those killed but we can’t release them to the press now because there will be a judicial panel on the issue; there will also be autopsy. The bodies of the dead ones are in the mortuary. No single herdsman was killed,” the monarch stated.
 Speaking at the Eke market square, Solomon Okpe, a farmer, narrated how he escaped.
“I’m an Anglican. I attended 5am service that day. The church service ended at about 6.15 am. Shortly after the church service, some women started running back to the church, shouting Fulani, Fulani.
“They said the Fulani people were in town, attacking our people. So I took off and went into hiding. My children ran away too from our house.
“The Fulani herdsmen were about 60. They didn’t attack any woman. Their targets were men. They were shooting in the air to scare away people. It was only one man who tried to escape that they shot; they killed others by slitting their throats with machetes and swords. Come and see how they were celebrating as they slit the throats of their victims. It was a horrible sight.”
He corroborated the story that the herdsmen came from Kogi State.
“They came from Ofoto boundary between us and Kogi through Eshi River.”
Okpe gave the names of those who lost their lives as: Raphael Onyeisi, Eze Silvanus (a local government worker) Goddy Nwagu, Eze Marxwell, Ugwu Ogbo, Akagu Utazi, CY Akor, one man called operator and  another one called Abro.

The Christ Holy Church (Odozi Obodo) was in ruins .The herdsmen allegedly set it on fire. The senior pastor’s Honda car was also set ablaze.
Narrating how it happened at the church, the catechist, John Orajiaka (from Akokwa, Ideato North LGA of Imo State) said,
“About 20 of the Fulani herdsmen stormed the church compound. They started beckoning on me to come to them, the whole thing was strange to me; I took to my heels and started running up the hill behind the church.It was when I was descending the other side of the hill that they began to shoot at me. But I had already hidden in  a safe place before their bullets started raining.
“Meanwhile the senior pastor was in his house which was set ablaze. How the senior pastor and his daughter and wife managed to escape from the house set ablaze remains a puzzle to all of us.
“I learnt that it was when the herdsmen sighted an Anglican priest who was sharing the same compound with us that our senior priest and his wife and daughter escaped.”

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