It was a day of rage at the border town between Enugu and Anambra states as youths, women and the elderly from their communities took to the streets to protest the incessant kidnap of their people by suspected armed herdsmen.
The women, who were half naked, said they were tired of the terror being perpetrated by the herdsmen at the boundary between Amagu village Umulokpa in Uzouwani Local Government Area and Olloh in Ezeagu Local Government Area.
They claimed that the herdsmen had been terrorizing their communities with the security agents looking the other way. They carried placards and leaves chanting war songs. “They not only kidnapped our youths but torture our armless villagers with demands for ransom. It has become a big business now.
We are only calling on our governors and Mr. President to please come to our aid before these people wipe us out from our land. The police should also rescue us from these bandits,” the protesting villagers pleaded.
Narrating their ordeal in the hands of those they described as “cruel armed men”, the leader of the group, an octogenarian, Chief Victor Nwamba, said the latest happened on January 2, about 3pm.
He said: “Two young men from Okpatu Village, Umulokpa, were kidnapped on their way to their village general meeting along the 90th mile Conner- Olloh -Umulokpa Road. “Their car broke down on the way and while they were there one of their cousins pulled up with his own car. There were two other occupants in his car, a boy of three years and another young man of about 43 years.
They returned together with their brother to Olloh town to buy the motor parts. “But on their way back, two men fully armed with AK47 rifle flagged them down and kidnapped the two young men leaving the others in the car.
However, the two kidnapped young men were resident in the Northern parts of Nigeria and were home for the Christmas. “As they made their way inside the bush part, the kidnapped young men understood their language and responded in Hausa, pleading with them not to kill them.
They discovered from their dialects that they are Fulanis and trekked with them for about three hours inside the bush.” The octogenarian did not stop there but added: “It was in the bush that they saw four other persons, including a husband and wife.
While they were seated one of the victims saw a gallon and as one of the armed men moved towards it. “Suspecting that it could be fuel or gas they wanted to use to set them ablaze, one of the victims attempted to escape but he was shot with the bullets shattering his two legs.
They dumped him there and moved the others to another location in the bush.” After that, according to the narrative, they had to use their phones they collected from victims to contact their relations. They demanded N5 million ransom but they were only able to settle for N2 million after long negotiation. They later directed our people to send one person on Okada with the money and to make sure they did not contact the police.
“He was also directed on how to go, instructing him to keep moving until he gets to a particular spot. When he got to the place they now called him and asked him to come back and ongoing back he was directed to follow another bush path and while he was moving inside the bush someone suddenly came out from the bush and directed him to follow him. “As they were moving another person with AK 47rifle emerged from the bush and collected the money and disappeared.
“He was taken to the place where these victims are, a journey of over six hours inside the thick forest and now demanded the ransom for the wounded victim before they released the first person. At the end of the second negotiation they settled for the sum of N1.5 million making a total sum of N3.5 million.
“They also collected N8 million from the other victims. It took two days to bring out the wounded victim out from the bush with the help of able-bodied young men. The victim is however responding to treatment at an undisclosed hospital. “We reported this matter to the police at Umulokpa and Olloh but up till now no one has been arrested in connection to the crime.
The situation now is that the villagers in the affected areas now sleep with one eyes closed because these herdsmen are suspected to still be around the thick forest. They were often sited when they came out to town to make some shopping and possibly spy for whom to kidnap. “As I am speaking to you some resident of Amagu and Okpamato Villages have fled their ancestral homes to neighbouring towns.
Everybody is afraid now. As o one knows the next victim. When contracted, the Police Public Relation Officer (PPRO), Enugu State Command, DSP Ebere Amaraizu, said he is just hearing the complaint for the first time.
He, however, promised that the command will investigate it to establish the truth of the matter. “We shall do everything within our power to get to the bottom of the matter and possibly bring the suspects to book,” he added.