From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
There is tension in Obiaruku, Ukwuani Local Government Area of Delta State as armed herdsmen sacked farmers from farmlands which they have forcefully converted to grazing fields.
Besides sacking farmers from farms, about eleven persons have allegedly be taken hostage within the last one week when the menace of herdsmen resurfaced in the agrarian community.
Community sources said the nefarious activities of the herdsmen started last Saturday, and have continued unabated as at Thursday.
An indigene of the town who simply identified himself as Hon. Uti said farmers have refused to return to the farms since Saturday.
“Fulani herdsmen have driven Obiaruku people from their farms and put their cows in the farms to eat up their cassava and other crops.
“People are no longer going to their farms. One of the women that own farmland whose crops have been destroyed said she is no longer going to the farm to harvest her cassava and she said that the ones she planted this year, the cows of the herdsmen have eaten up the crops in her farm,” Uti said.
Executive Chairman of Ukwuani Local Government Council, Mr. Possible Ajede who confirmed the ugly development, said security agents and community leaders were already on top of the situation to maintain peace.
Ajede frowned at the resurgence of the unwholesome activities of herdsmen, after a lull sometime ago.
He confirmed that due to the rapid response of a combined team of police and local vigilante, eight persons earlier taken into hostage by herdsmen were rescued, adding however that three natives of the town were still being held.
“It is painful that you are going to your farm only to meet armed herdsmen with their cattle eating your entire investment.
“As at the time we came on board in March, this year, we invited the leaders of the Fulani herdsmen for a meeting, and after that meeting, they appeared to be on holiday.
“But we heard recently of the hostage and the menace of the herdsmen. So we mobilise our security operatives into the bush. When they saw the operatives, they abandoned the hostages and took to their heels,” Ajede said.
According to him, eight hostages were freed, adding that “as I speak now, they are still holding on to three citizens of Ukwuani.
“It is painful of the Chief Security Officer of the council, and the state government under the leadership of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, is doing a lot to maintain peace.
“However, we continue to urge our people to remain calm no matter the provocation as we continue to explore tactical ways to resolve the issues within the ambit of the law.”
Although, acting Public Relations Officer of the state police command, DSP Bright Edafe had dismissed reports of attack by herdsmen in Obiaruku, a reliable security source confirmed the situation, saying that everything was being done to restore peace.