The relative peace enjoyed by the people of Ogui-Agu Eke community in the Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State has since May 1 this year given way to tension and apprehension after Fulani herdsmen allegedly shot and killed a villager in his farm.
The deceased, Matthew Aniugo was in his farm with his family when he was attacked by three of the cattle men who allegedly shot and gave him machete cuts which led to his death.
Aniugo, who dropped out from primary school, spent some time learning welding and fabrication in Abuja for six years. When the business did not flourish as expected, he reportedly returned to the village and took to farming. It was in his private farmland that he was murdered.
Mrs. Nneka Aniugo, mother of four, who was married to Aniugo for 15 years, was accompanied by family members as she narrated how her husband was killed.
She said: ?My husband and my younger brother, who came to visit us went, to the farm as early as 6am that fateful day. As they left, I prepared food and with my kids, we went to join them in the farm, which is not very far from our house.
?As we were working, we saw some Fulani cattle men with their cows come into the farm; the cows entered our cassava farm and ate up everything. My husband then approached them and queried why they allowed the cows to destroy his crops. One of them replied him in Hausa and said: ?Who gave you the authority to talk to me like that?? He later went away with his cows.
?We thought everything was settled and we continued working until about 11am when I asked them to come out and eat because we didn?t eat that morning before going to the farm. My husband said I should first serve the children and my brother which I did before inviting him again to come for his food. He came and we were eating together when suddenly we heard a gunshot. He got up immediately to know the direction the sound came from.
?As he stood up, he realised that it was the Fulanis and they were close to us. He took off and started running while we, on our part, were shouting for help. Sensing danger, I asked my brother to take the kids away while I ran after the herdsmen who were pursuing my husband. As I ran, I spoke Hausa to them, begging them to spare him but they didn?t listen to me.
?As they pursued him, they kept shooting and at a point, the gun got him on one of his legs and he fell down. They got to where he fell and the one with gun, shot him, while the other who had a machete gave him a cut on his hand.?
Ozo Cletus Anugo, uncle to the deceased, said he wasn?t feeling fine that day and was at home when he heard a motorcycle enter his compound. The visitor was one of his kinsmen who announced that Fulani men had shot Matthew to death in his farm.
?I tried making calls but the network was bad; it was about 30 minutes later when the network got better that I started calling our people and told them to report to the police at 9th-Mile Corner which they did. The police went to the farm and brought his corpse and they all came to my house. I came out and behold it was true, Matthew was lying lifeless in the vehicle.
?Our people are not happy at all but the elders have been able to hold them back and will continue to do so because we are peace loving people. But we are asking the government to ensure that justice is done on this matter because this is not the first time. Two years ago, the Fulani herdsmen killed one Moderick Nzekwe and nothing was done up till today.
Personally, I lived more than 20 years in the North and I did not kill anyone. I wonder why this should be happening here. We feel so much pain because this is a young man who has not trained his children and you can imagine the fate of these four children without a father. So, government must make sure that the culprits pay the price of their crime because that is the only way peace can be maintained in the community and its environs.?
Also speaking, another family member, Sergius Aliozo recalled how he got a call from Ozo Cletus Anugo that afternoon of May 1 that his cousin, Matthew Aniugo had been shot dead by Fulani herdsmen in his farm. ?I quickly called the chairman of our neighbourhood watch and informed him of the incident; he in turn called the DCO 9th Mile Police Division.
?The police came with their Hilux Van and were taken to the scene of the incident where they recovered the corpse which they later deposited at Our Saviour Hospital Mortuary at 9th Mile corner. Later at the police station, the chairman and secretary of the neighbourhood watch made their statements. The DCO told us to go, promising that they will do their best in bringing the perpetrators to book.
?On the 5th of May, the local vigilance group, through their routine road block, arrested three Fulani cattle men and invited the wife of the deceased to see if they were the same people that killed her husband. The woman came and identified them as the same people that killed her husband.
She identified the one that pulled the trigger as well as the other who gave him the machete cut because she said they came with a pump-action gun, a cutlass and the other, a stick. They were later taken to the 9th-Mile Police station and later transferred to the State CID.
?Our people are very bitter because it?s just that some of us who are more civilized have tried to advise them not to take laws into their hands otherwise they are very bitter.
Again, we are asking the government to ensure that the Fulani people leave our community since they don?t want peace. I can?t imagine someone coming to one?s village and his farmland to harass, intimidate and kill the person.
?Because of the menace of these cattle men, the farmers in the village on October 5th last year mobilized and went to Udi Local Government headquarters on a peaceful demonstration narrating their ordeals to the authorities.
The secretary to the local government was the person that stood in for the council chairman and he assured that they were going to do something that they will call meetings to ensure it doesn?t happen again. Now, it has happened again. So, government should really come in to assist because if nothing is done, then we may have to leave the place; but where would we be going to??
The police in Enugu have confirmed the arrest and arraignment of the three suspects just as the PPRO, Ebere Amaraizu assured that the state Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Adamu has been having series of meetings with leaders of Fulani herdsmen in the state in an attempt to forestall future occurrence.