Ben Dunno, Warri
The farmers/herders clash which started at Avwon, Agadama, Ohoror and other neighbouring communities of Uwheru Kingdom in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State, last Thursday, escalated on Saturday leaving in its wake conflicting casualty figures.
While unofficial reports has it that no fewer than eight (8) local farmers were killed in the wake of the brutal attack by the herdsmen in the early hours of Saturday, police sources however claimed that only one farmer was killled while several others sustained severe injuries.
Sources in the affected communities disclosed to our correspondent that there had been repeated attacks on the communities by armed herdsmen between Thursday and Friday which later resulted in a fierce confrontation between both parties at the weekend.
According to sources the sustained tempo of attacks by the herdsmen had led to the desertation of the affected communities by indigenes over apprehension of possible devastating midnight attacks by the invading cattle rearers.
A top government officials from one of the affected communities who spoke on cobdition of anonymity stated that no fewer than eight (8) person might have beng killed and many still missing in the bush following this unexpecd attacks.
According to him, “two nights ago, including last night Fulani herdsmen killed some people as usual in their farm lands.
“The attacks usually happened in the farms and as we speak our people cannot go to their farms because the herdsmen have taken over almost all the communities. The communities are comfortably under their control.
“Many of the victims are still in the bushes and other parts of the communities. About eight (8) of them have been recovered while others are still missing. Usually, when they kill, they wait for those that will come for the bodies and also kill them”.
Meanwhile the Governor of Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, has commended the Nigerian Army and the police for their prompt intervention in the clash between suspected herdsmen and Uwheru communities in UghelliNorth Local Government Area.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, the governor expressed gratitude for the peace that had been restored to the communities through the instrumentality of the security agencies.
He, however, said that he was saddened by reports of persons, including security agents, feared to have lost their lives.
Okowa restated the confidence of the state government in the security agencies to rise to security challenges in the state.
He thanked the army authorities for the sustained support to the state in providing security and protecting public facilities across the state.
The governor called on the communities affected in the crisis to maintain the peace that had been restored, assuring that the security agents would investigate the cause of the clash and bring the perpetrators to justice.
In his reaction, the House of Representatives member representing Ughelli North, Ughelli South and Udu federal constituency, Rev Francis Ejiroghene Waive, has condemned the alleged repeated attacks by suspected herdsmen on some communities in Uwheru Kingdom of Ughelli North Council area of Delta State.
Waive, who called for calm, said he had already reached out to security agencies in the state to ensure that the situation was brought under control.
A statement personally signed by the lawmaker at the weekend, lamented the continued attacks by herdsmen on Avwon, Agadama, Ohoror and other communities of Uwheru Kingdom.
Waive said: “Permit me to condemn in the strongest possible terms the renewed herdsmen attacks on Avwon, Agadama, Ohoror and other communities of Uwheru Kingdom, Ughelli North Local Government Area of my constituency”.
“When reports of the onslaught reached me from community leaders and party faithful, I immediately got in touch with heads of security agencies including the Commander 222 Battalion of the Nigerian Army especially with allegations of involvement of the military on the side of the herdsmen”.
“It is sad that valuable lives and property, including farms, have been lost. I call on our people to remain calm while we continue to dialogue with the authorities to ensure lasting peace, as we will ensure no more lives are lost and this perennial menace is brought to an end.”
Confirming the incident in a phone conversation, the Delta State Police Commissioner, Hafiz Inuwa, said the only person with bullet injury before security agents moved into the effected communities was currently receiving treatment at the Oghara Specialist hospital.
He disclosed that cases of injuries were being attended to in private hospitals around the neigbourhood.
Inuwa also applauded the military for the timely support with the police to bring the situation under control.
He enjoined all the parties to give peace a chance to enable the state government address the grievances among them inorder to sustain the fragile peace in the area.