…As residents, lawmaker trade words
From Obinna Odogwu, Ekwulobia
In Umuomaku, a sleepy community tucked away in Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra State, all is no longer well.
From the dilapidated bumpy road that leads to it to the decrepit public utilities, the town is adorned with shanty infrastructure, most of which were established through communal efforts and handed over to the state government.
But the most pressing issue which is like the proverbial tse-tse fly sucking on their scrotum is the Fulani herdsmen’s menace.
The herders, they claimed, have over the years been wreaking havoc in the community. However, they had allegedly taken their dastardly act to a higher scale about two years ago.
From wanton, provocative destruction of farmland, they have progressed to setting their massive palm plantations on fire.
When Oriental News visited their farms in company with some of the community leaders, it was observed that their massive vegetable farms have been freshly grazed and trampled upon by herds of cattle.
A greater portion of their massive palm plantations with an estimated total of 12 million palm trees were said to have been allegedly set ablaze by the Fulani herdsmen.
There were also footprints of herds of cattle which suggested that the menace might have been carried out by them as alleged.
The palm plantations, the residents disclosed, were established by the administration of erstwhile governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju (1999 to 2003).
There was high level of destruction of the cultivated farmlands and other economic valuables, which have angered the people of Umuomaku much that many thought there could be a reprisal.
However, the residents said they simply want the Fulani herdsmen, who have established a settlement camp in their town, to peacefully vacate their territory.
Relieving their ordeal, the President-General, Mr Robert Obi, said: “Fulani herdsmen have dealt so much with us. Their detestable activities in our community have been long, but last year and now seem to be worst. We have complained severally to one of their leaders, one Akin Adamu, to call his people to order yet they have persisted in their evil deeds.
“Our major concern now is that we have often exchanged bitter words with them. But when such altercation becomes too hot, we pulled back but they have threatened that one day, they will kill somebody. So, our lives are in danger.”
Mr. Wisdom Ekene Umeora said he was still taking stock of his farm crops destroyed by the herdsmen.
“Almost everything we cultivated was destroyed by the Fulani herdsmen. It’s painful,” he lamented.
A community leader, Mr. Kajethan Igwe, disclosed that herdsmen also molest their women.
“One of our wives escaped sexual assault one day. They pounced on her while in the farm alone, but she outran them,” he alleged.
Chairman of Miyetti-Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in the South East, Alhaji Gidado Siddiki, when contacted on the telephone, said he was yet to be briefed on the herdsmen issue.
He, however, promised to look into the matter.
“Cattle Menace Committee was set up by the governor to address this kind of issue. We have about four monarchs from that senatorial zone who are members of this committee. They should have brought that to their attention. I have never heard any complaint of this type, but I will investigate it,” he said.
The police spokesperson in the state, Mrs. Nkeiruka Nwode, dismissed the allegation as half-truth.
She pointed out that the Cattle Menace Committee headed by the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Sam Okaula, with membership of other security agencies and traditional rulers have been steadfast in addressing these issues when they arise.