From Okey Sampson, Umuahia
Until recently, residents of Emelogu and Pepples’ roads and other areas adjoining the Orji Uzor Kalu Bridge in the Ogbor Hill axis of Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State, had been harbouring the notion that ‘unknown thieves’ had been responsible for their missing domestic animals, including birds.
Some of the residents may have even pointed the finger at their neighbours as being responsibile for their missing goats and birds.
The residents had lived in fear of the unknown for sometime until recently when they discovered the culprits were huge snakes that have been decimating their livestock.
Getting rid of the snakes, which made the nearby Aba River (Waterside) their habitation, became a problem as it was discovered they always came out in the dead of the night to hunt.
In fact, the discovery that it was huge snakes, which included pythons and cobras, that visited the neighbourhood to pick up animals of their choice, heightened fear among residents because, according to one of them, Eme Ogbu, it would have been better if human beings were the ones stealing their goats and and fowls than such dangerous snakes, which could, in addition, harm or kill anybody.
Hear Ogbu: “The discovery that it was such huge and dangerous snakes that were coming to take away our goats and birds heightened fear among the residents who would have preferred it were human beings that were responsible because pythons could as well leave the goats and birds and swallow man, if within reach.”
Another resident, Kalu Okpara, spoke in like manner. He said the residents had been living in fear since it was discovered that snakes were responsible for the loss of their domestic animals.
“Although the residents were afraid initially when our domestic animals within the area were disappearing without trace, but our fear heightened when one of us discovered one night that it was a python and other dangerous snakes that were coming to pick them.
“I must tell you that, since that discovery, we, residents, had been sleeping with one eye open because of fear of the unknown.”
However, the residents’ fear eased recently when two of the snakes were killed at the bank of the Aba River, close to the Orji Uzor Kalu Bridge.
The writer gathered that workers currently clearing and expanding the Aba River from Okpulor Umuobo in Osisioma Local Government Area to Azumini, Ukwa East Local Government Area, to make it easy for flying boats to ply, came in contact with the snakes.
The workers were reported to have stumbled on two large snakes and they were instantly killed with the help of locals who quickly dissected them as condiments for preparation as meal.
According to a resident, who did not want his name mentioned, “At least two big snakes were killed by the workers, assisted by some residents at Emelogu Street, around Waterside area, near the popular Orji Uzor Kalu Bridge, Aba.
“Some people quickly cut the snakes into pieces to be used to prepare pepper soup or whatever dish because the people said they would eat them the way they ate their domestic animals.
“We have for long lived in fear as a result of the activities of the snakes; they have, indeed, made life unbearable for us.
“We have lost our domestic animals, especially fowls and goats. The snakes sneak out in the dead of the night to consume them and now some of them have been killed we are not going to spare them”, the resident in his early 60s said.
Despite the fact that two snakes were killed, residents and traders in the nearby Good Morning Market are still living in fear.
Mrs. Ola Udo, who lives within the area the snakes were killed, said: “It is true that two snakes identified as cobra and python were killed close to where we are living. Although we are a bit relieved, we are still living in fear because we believe there are still more huge and dangerous snakes within the neighborhood.”
Traders at the Good Morning Market, which is metres away from the scene where the snakes were killed, are equally apprehensive.
Hear one of them who gave his name as Mr. Ene, “We’ve heard before now that huge snakes lived within the banks of the river, but we did not believe it until we saw the ones killed the other day and this has put fear into some of us”.
Residents and traders have appealed to the state government to fumigate the area to save them from attacks from other snakes hiding in the vicinity.