By Romanus Ugwu
It was not not an atmosphere anybody would want to be part of. Tears flowed unhindered. pains, sorrow were visibly on the faces of residents of Darka , a sleepy, small and isolated agrarian community in the Kuje Area Council of FCT, when the peace of the village was shattered in the early hours of Sunday November 13 by armed men suspected to be Fulani herdsmen who invaded it .
In a commando fashion in an operation that lasted several minutes, the invaders who did not give the villagers space to defend themselves overran the entire length and breadth of the village, killing, kidnaping, stealing and inflicting devastating blows on the people.
When the attackers finally left the theatre of war, and the villagers took stock, it was a gory take . The story is that one person was killed, and six persons abducted . Those abducted comprised three girls and three young men.
Even one week after, several villagers are yet to recover from the shock or come to realities what happened and how they miraculously managed to escape from attackers.
While many of them still lick their wounds, moping into the air aimlessly with hands on their chins, others watching in bewilderment, wishing it was a dream that would never come to pass , just as many other wished they were woken up from what they still think was a nightmare.
Everybody in the story has one nasty and heart wrenching story about the incident to tell. They were all affected . The village head lost his son. Both him and and the villagers are begging the authorities to beef up security around the village to forestall another possible attack, lamenting that they now live perpetually in fears. Their fears however, happened last Saturday as there were claims that further attacks were carried out on the same village last Saturday.
Possible reason for the attack
Blaming the genesis of the crisis which culminated into the attack of the village on that Sunday morning on Fulani herdsmen seizing their farmlands for grazing of their cattle, some of the villagers that spoke largely in local dialect and through an interpreter claimed that all efforts to make them realise the fact that their livelihood depend on the farming fell on deaf ears.
The villagers however made a passionate plea to government and security agencies to rescue those abducted, even as they warned that they will not be intimidated into releasing their farmlands for grazing without a fight.
According to them; “Our immediate request is to plead with the relevant government authority and security agencies to ensure that they bring enough security personnel to guard us here because our lives are still in danger. We are now living in fears of another possible attack.
“Our problem with them is farmland. They destroy our farms with their cattle without showing any remorse. The entire villagers depend largely on farming as means of survival but the Fulani herdsmen want them to leave their farmlands to them for grazing.
“The situation has been the source of the conflict but we never thought they would one day take up arms against us let alone killing one and abducting six others after swooping on us that early Sunday morning. Their attack was very shocking and overwhelming and all we ask is government intervention to save us from more attacks. Those kidnapped are yet to be rescued. They are still in their custody many days after the incident.
“Government should not abandon us to our fate because we lack what it takes to defend ourselves. They are blood tasty and armed with sophisticated weapons to overrun this village. From the attack, it was obvious that we cannot march them force for force since they are armed with all manners of weapon,” the villagers pleaded.
How they abducted my daughter —Resident
For a young widow identified as Mrs Odo from Enugu state, the fateful day will remain memorable because she still finds it extremely difficult to comprehend the incident of that morning.
Mrs Odo lamented that the assailants had swooped on her household, bringing down the door with hammer while watched helplessly with her two children, adding that though she escaped for her life abandoning her children, her eight year old daughter was however not lucky as the attackers abducted her.
Recollecting the incident of that morning, Mrs Odo said: “We were surprise to hear the sounds of several repeated gunshots. I piped through the window and saw several armed persons advancing towards my house. It was a shocking experience I wished was a dream but before I could realise myself, I heard a loud bag like hammer on my door which opened immediately.
“As I was pondering what to do with my two children, I saw torchlights everywhere. How I manage to escape leaving my children behind was still a miracle to me. When I came back after the operation, I noticed that they had abducted my daughter, stolen all the money I kept in the house, including goods and other valuables.
“The money and other valuables they took away were not as painful as my daughter they abducted. They have shattered my life with the kidnap of my daughter. I don’t know what to do because as a poor widow I don’t have the power to rescue my daughter.
“I want to appeal to the federal government, Kuje Area Council and every well-meaning Nigerian especially the security agencies to come to my aid in rescuing my daughter. Please, Nigerians I need your help to rescue my daughter,” she pleaded.
When Daily Sun visited Kuje Police Station, a reliable police officer told our correspondent in confidence that though the venue of the incident did not fall under the Kuje police division’s jurisdiction, he can however confirm that the attackers are not members of the Boko Haram Islamic terrorist group but criminal elements masquerading as Fulani herdsmen.
“As you know, we are not in the position to give you information about the incident because the venue is not under our jurisdiction. The best person to give you information is the FCT Police PRO. However, I can tell you on good authority that the attackers are not members of the Boko Haram Islamic terrorists. They are criminal elements disguising as Fulani herdsmen,” the source said.
Reacting to the development, the FCT Police PRO, ASP Anjuguri Mamza, told Daily Sun on telephone that investigations are still going to unravel the remote and immediate cause of the incident, adding that the FCT Police Command will formally address journalists on the issue once the investigations and operations are completed.
“We don’t want to talk about that issue for now because we are working on it. We will address the media at the appropriate date when we conclude our investigations,” Mamza quipped, rebuffing any other attempt to confirm or give more insights concerning the casualty figure or number of the abducted.
FCT authority reacts
Disturbed by the incident, the Minister of FCT, Muhammad Bello, has called for calm, assuring that security agencies in the territory are on top of the ugly situation.
The Minister, who gave the assurance after an emergency security meeting with some stakeholders of the affected communities in Kuje Area Council, maintained that it has become necessary because the FCT Administration and the security agencies following the development in these communities have put measures in place to tackle the problem headlong.
While advising the residents not to give any ethnic coloration to the attacks, he contended that the attack, killing and kidnapping of these innocent residents are purely criminal in nature and the culprits would be treated like the criminals they are.
“I want to urge the residents of the FCT to pass any useful information they have to the relevant security agencies nearest to them as well as traditional and community leaders. I want to assure the community not to give any ethnic coloration to the attacks. We have ensured that various security agencies have been drafted to the area to ensure the protection of lives and property and rescue of the abducted villagers,” the FCT Minister noted.