From PETRUS OBI, Enugu
LAST Monday invasion of Nimbo Community in the Uzo-uwani Local Government area of Enugu State may have come and gone, the gory tales, the victims and the relics left behind are still very fresh and horrific.
A visit to the National Orthopaedic hospital, Enugu where some of the very serious cases were referred to brings one face-to-face to the reality of the incident. A young lady, Chioma Ezeugwu who is taking care of her brother in the hospital broke the sad news that one of the vixtims, hitherto, moved to Enugu and identified as Akogwu Utazi had died.
She also said that among those referred to the Orthopedic hospital was one Eze Patrick, a youth corps member who returned home to see his mother. Efforts to speak with Patrick failed as the hospital authority said he would not be able to talk at that time.
Chioma who lives in Onitsha said she was returning to her community on that fateful morning when she received a phone call, warning her to stay away from the village. The first hand information, actually, came from his half brother, Celestine Ajugwu who sustained severe injury and as at the time of the visit could not talk.
Her words “We are of the same mother but not the same father.. He is my brother. We are from Nimbo in Uzo-uwani Local Government area of Enugu State. My brother was attacked by the Fulani cattlemen. The Fulanis and our people have been having problems over the land, which the community had allowed them to use for some time before they go back to their place. Our people did not realise that they had already sought for themselves, better accommodation inside the bushes and in our farms.
“When our people go to farm, they discovered that their cassava and crops were being destroyed to the point that they requested the Fulani men to leave; but they refused.On one fateful morning last year, our people were going to their farms and they met the cattle eating up our cassava and destroying other crops. Our people chased away the cows and the action led to a fight between our people and the herdsmen. After the clash, they left in anger but nobody suspected they would return one day on revenge mission. After they left and our people were rejoicing that they had left, unknown to them that some of them were still inside the bush.
“Later, they wrote a letter to our traditional ruler threatening that they would return to wage war whether he liked it or not. Not knowing when the attack would happen, security was stepped up by the police and local vigilante. The youths were also mobilised and they kept vigil every night until that Monday morning. They had dispersed at about 6:00 am to reconvene in the evening only for the Fulanis to creep in few minutes later.
“They came in through the bush and divided themselves into groups. The first man they killed was Eze O. He normally leaves for his farm early in the morning. He was on his way to the farm when they killed him. As they entered the village from the bush, they saw another boy and wanted to go for him but he shouted on top of his voice, attracting the attention of other villagers. The herdsmen shot into the air as the boy took to his heels.
“Their plan was to enter the village unnoticed and move from house to house. As they began to shoot sporadically, people scampered to safety. At a point, the Fulanis discovered that the bullets were not penetrating the bodies of the villagers. So, they decided to use machetes on them.”
On how her brother was caught and matcheted, she said “my brother was coming out from his house when he saw people running. Initially, he thought that people were just running. Suddenly, he saw people dressed in all black attire with a black headbands and armed with daggers, guns and other deadly weapons. He told himself, those people could not have been our people and I started running. He didn’t know that they saw him as he ran back into the house and locked the door.
“As he was peeping through the window, the Fulanis who saw him ordered him to come out or they would come there and kill him, but he refused to open the door. As they put more pressure on him, out of fear he opened the door. The first thing they did as he opened the door was to use the machete on his face causing a good number of his teeth to drop on the floor. As he attempted to run back they shot at him but the gun did not penetrate; they shot the second time on the neck and it came out through his mouth removing some teeth again. He was shouting that they should not kill him that he did nothing to them. One of the attackers then said, ‘no kill am, kill am with knife, no shoot am gun again.’ They then used the knife on his neck more than three times. They were more than five persons surrounding him while another person shouted, ‘cut his hand’ and they used the knife to cut his hand. “The bones holding two of his fingers were cut off. They also cut his back.Thinking he was dead, they left him and moved on. Immediately he got up he said to himself ‘these people wanted to kill me but they cannot.’ Almost immediately, people came out, because this happened at Onueke, and they quickly carried him. At Abe junction, the police took him and carried him to Bishop Shanahan hospital Nsukka.
“Thank God that my mother and two of my other brothers, Celestine and Fidelis Obuka were not injured. They ran out into the bush and were safe. So we have been at the hospital in Nsukka until yesterday (Wednesday). The governor came there that Tuesday; he gave us money; also the senator representing us Chuka Utazi gave us money. They said we should use the money for feeding and that the treatment will be taken care of by the government.”