By Emma Njoku
A former Commissioner for Human Development and Poverty Reduction in Enugu State, Godwin Chidozie Ogenyi, has raised the alarm over incessant attacks on Eha-Amufu community in Isi-Uzo Local Government Area of the state.
Ogenyi, who hails from Mgbuji village in Eha- Amufu, where many lives were lost and over 90 people left with machete-cut injuries during the latest invasion of the community by the killer herdsmen on November 21, has appealed to security operatives to protect the life and property of the people, while the Federal Government should increase humanitarian aids to those displaced from their ancestral homes as a result of the attacks.
He regretted that Eha-Amufu town, which used to be the Eastern pride bordering the northern part of the country, has been turned to a killing field by the rampaging Fulani herdsmen.
He said: “Years past, travellers, particularly train passengers from Lagos and Kano heading to Enugu, Umuahia and Port Harcourt, often heaved a big sigh of relief on getting to Eha- Amufu. It is the most populated town in Enugu State and houses the Federal College of Education.
“Regrettably, four years ago, killer Fulani herdsmen started terrorising the town. They displaced thousands of the population and forced many children out of schools, while the schools were turned into IDP camps. Cost of food skyrocketed as farmer’s couldn’t access their farm lands. This caused untold hardship to many families within and outside the state. Most businessmen from neighbouring states of Benue, Ebonyi and Cross River, who come to buy agricultural products, no longer come to transact businesses due to insecurity.
“Apart from the recent attack which occurred on November 21, 2022, we have recorded 15 attacks by Fulani herders this year alone. This is besides several cases of kidnapping for ransom perpetrated by suspected herdsmen in the area.
“Since the herdsmen started attacking our community, neither the police nor the military have arrested any of the terrorists.
We received information on the attack this morning and alerted all the security agencies. I called the State Director of Security Services, and I called the state Commissioner of Police.
“We notified all the security agencies, but as of 12pm, we were yet to see any single soldier or police. Our communities are being razed down and after the attack, the government will deploy soldiers to shield the jihadists. If the Nigeria police and other security agencies, especially the military cannot protect the people of the South East, then why are they after the Eastern Security Network that helped communities farm this season? Now, we can’t harvest our crops because so many of the ESN members have been killed. Presently, they are embarking on kidnapping and raping.
“The most annoying part of this is that the terrorists have graduated from killing to kidnapping and raping of farmers and women. Just this July, poor farmers numbering thirty, coming back from their farm land were kidnapped and ransom were paid for their freedom.
“Their abductors demanded N30 million, but what the victim’s families were able to contribute was N2 million only. Before this incident, the December 29, 2021 kidnap incident is still fresh in our minds. The victims just returned home for the yuletide celebrations.”
One of the indigenes of the Agu-Amede community, Eha-Amufu and a community leader, Mr Divine, confirmed that his brother, who returned for the celebrations, was among the abducted victims. He said there has been an upsurge in abductions by hoodlums suspected to be herdsmen along the Eha-Amufu-Ikem road in recent times.
“There is no road or security in Isi-Uzo LGA, and it is made worse because of bad roads. I am begging the governor to look into our plight and save us from the incessant kidnapping along the Eha-Amufu-Agu-Amede-Ikem Federal road. I am begging the governor to look into our plight and save us from the incessant kidnapping along the Eha-Amufu-Agu-Amede-Ikem Federal road. Within this year alone, we have recorded no fewer than 10 abductions with 23 people involved. Our people have paid several millions of naira in ransom to herdsmen, while about three people were killed along the road by the same bandits.
Another resident, Nwonye, also disclosed that within one week, over seven kidnap incidents had been witnessed within the same axis. He said the same bandits, after releasing a Catholic priest in one of the parishes in Eha-Amufu, kidnapped about five people just after the Federal College of Education.
“Another ugly incident was that of January 7, 2022, as herdsmen said to be in military and police uniforms attacked traders at Orie Ogbete Mgbuji market and killed many people. The herdsmen sacked five village farm settlements in Mgbuji Eha-Amufu autonomous community and have remained in those settlements destroying properties and burning houses.”
In a save-our-soul message, Ogenyi pleaded: “All we ask is for security presence in our community, so that the farmers can return to their farm lands and many families back to their ancestral homes. Also, the government should increase humanitarian aid, so as to put smiles on the faces of displaced people.”