From Chidi Nnadi, Enugu
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State yesterday visited the people of Ugwuleshi in Awgu Local Government Area of the state and donated N5 million to displaced farmers, N3 million to the local government and an undisclosed sum of money to the traditional institution.
Unknown soldiers had swooped on Ugwuleshi on March 17, taking away 76 men to Umuahia, Abia State following skirmishes between the villagers and Fulani herdsmen who had allegedly destroyed crops in their farmland.
Trouble started when Ugwuleshi people earlier alleged that Fulani herdsmen abducted two of their women in their farm, urging the herdsmen to release them, as well as leave their farmland.
Instead, the herdsmen, it was gathered, invited soldiers who allegedly overran the village, arrested 76 men and handed them over to the police in Umuahia where they were accused of arson, among others. They were arraigned in court and remanded them in prison custody on March 18.
Ugwuanyi, who was deeply touched by the trauma the people were passing through, particularly the women, since the arrest and detention of their sons and husbands, commended them for conducting themselves peacefully since the incident occurred, saying he himself has not slept well since then.
The governor, who addressed the people at Community Secondary School, Oboffia, said: “I see myself as being in Umuahia, part of me is in fact in Umuahia; you gave me your mandate to govern you and as I am one of you I cannot be sleeping when you are awake. This is indeed a tempting period, but God is above everything.”
He assured them that their sons and husbands would soon be released and allowed to return home.
“I’ve come to cry with you; I came here today because your pain is my pain, what concerns you, concerns me the more, I have not been sleeping well since this thing happened,” he maintained.
Ugwuanyi regretted that the incident happened in Enugu which is regarded as one of the most peaceful states in the country.
Igwe Godwin Okeosisi, who spoke on behalf of traditional rulers, thanked Ugwuanyi for paying them a solidarity visit, promising that the people of Awgu would always support in his future political ambition.
The governor, who came to the community with all the representatives of the people in the state House of Assembly, commissioners from the area and some other principal officers of the government, was received by the local government chairman, Mr Stanley Okereke.
The people, who came out in their thousands to listen to the governor carried placards some of which read: ‘We want our husbands and children back’,
‘Fulani cattle rearers should go,’ ‘We don’t want cattle herdsmen in our land again,’ ‘We cannot be intimidated by Fulani herdsmen in our land,’ among others.