From Okey Sampson, Umuahia
A group, Concerned Ozuitem Youths (COY) in Bende Local Government of Abia State has flayed the state Commissioner of Police, Mrs Janet Agbede, over the arrests and detention of the former chairman of Abia traditional rulers council, Eze John Akaliro, another traditional ruler, Eze Sunday Ekebuisi, and seven others over the recent clash in the area between Fulani herdsmen and some unknown persons.
A statement by the leader of the group, Chibuisi Uwa Egwu, claimed that in early January, Fulani herdsmen took their cows to farmlands in Ozuitem and destroyed cash crops.
Egwu said those affected, through their representatives, took the matter to the chairman of Bende local government area, who in turn instructed the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) to investigate the matter.
He said ever since the villagers made the report, nothing was done until the incident at Onuiyagha last week where some unknown persons clashed with herders and some cows were killed.
The COY leader said last Wednesday, the DPO of Bende allegedly invited those who had earlier reported about the destruction of their farmlands by Fulani herdsmen to Umuahia, including their traditional rulers and president generals, that the commissioner of police wanted to broker peace between them.
Egwu said surprisingly when those invited including the former chairman of the state traditional rulers council, Eze Akaliro and another Eze, Ekebuisi and seven others went to Umuahia, police, in turn, detained them, accusing them of organizing the killings of cows at Onuiyagha near Bende.
COY said it is unfortunate that their people including a first-class traditional ruler are being unjustly detained at state command, Umuahia for no other reason than cows which have been destroying their farms were killed by unknown persons.
‘It is only in this part of the country that a traditional ruler of Eze Akaliro’s standing will be detained by a CP because unknown persons killed some cows. Could a first-class Emir or Oba be detained because of cows?,’ COY queried.
Egwu who said this was a clear case of desecration of the traditional institution, injustice and intimidation against the people of Ozuitem, called on the government to force the herders out of their entire bushes and farmlands so as to assure the safety of their parents as they go to their farms.
CP Agbede could not pick calls put across on her cell phone, neither did she respond to SMS text sent to her.