The Movement for Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) on Tuesday issued a 48-hour ultimatum to herdsmen to vacate the Ogboli-Ohaja community in Awgu local government area of Enugu state. This is coming barely 24 hours after an attack on Monday evening allegedly by some herdsmen on a 32-year-old Kenneth Ude on his farm, situated in the area.
Commenting on the development, Barrister Emmanuel Mbamalu, the Secretary to Enugu State Security Committee, which was set up last year by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, told Daily Trust on Tuesday: “We’ve just finished a security meeting on the matter now, this evening. We heard that there is massive destruction of farms by herdsmen’s cows in the area; the herdsmen, we learnt, are from Abia state. “We’ve just alerted the new Chairman of Awgu local government area to investigate the incident so that we can come in.”
Witnesses said Ude was reportedly working on his cassava farm located near his residence when some herders stormed the place and allegedly harvested the cassava and fed their cattle with the produces.
An attempt to stop the herders from destroying his farmland was said to have landed Ude various machete cuts, they narrated. They added that his attackers reportedly ran away thinking he was dead but Ude was rescued and rushed to the Jideofor Medical Hospital, in Awgu, where he is recovering.
Our reporter gathered that the development was said to have fuelled tension in the area on Monday night as some young men combed the bushes in search of the runaway herdsmen.
Some Police officers from Awgu Division were said to have visited the hospital and taken pictures of the wounded young man, it was learnt. However, the Deputy National Leader of MASSOB, Chief Ikechukwu Ekwe, told reporters on Tuesday that they would no longer tolerate killing of innocent people by herdsmen on their farms in the area.
He said his group had mobilized to “fish out any herder who might not heed the 48 hours ultimatum” He added: “Enough is enough. We will no longer fold our hands and watch these people decimate us. We will fish them out wherever they may be in this community after 48 hours and handle them our own way.
“No more will we allow our people to be subjected to this level of maltreatment on their own soil. I do not think it is a crime for one to go to his farm.” Ekwe stated that farmlands have been destroyed in the area by herdsmen in the cause of their grazing activities, stressing that attempts to get authorities address the situation had proven abortive.
When contacted, Police spokesman in the state, ASP Daniel Ndukwe, said he was yet to be briefed on the incident. ASP Ndukwe said he would find out what actually happened between the two parties and get back to our reporter, as at the time of filing this report. Effort to reach the leader of herdsmen in the Southeast, Alhaji Gidado Sadiki, was not successful as his mobile line was switched off.