Suspected Fulani Herdsmen paid a visit to Abi villagers which left some persons dead, houses, motor cycles and many other properties worth millions of Naira burnt. Eye witnesses recount their ordeal and how tormenting life has been after was, reports Emmanuel Ahanonu
the blood stain of late Mrs. Mercy

The hinterland village has been generally peaceful. Life may have not been too friendly in the agrarian community of Abi (in Uzo-Uwani LGA of Enugu State) but its people still strive and survive. Although, notwithstanding how hard it has been, terror of fear of herdsmen has never been in their psyche offing. But after they were finally visited by the blood hungry herdsmen (a visit that left a brother and sister dead), life has never been the same in that clime as some are now living under the trees as their new homes as a result of the inferno that followed.

Many parts of Uzo-Uwani LGA have been taken over by Fulani herdsmen. There has been successive stories of Fulani grazing in their farms and intimidating them with firearms, rapping their women in their farms as well as maiming anyone that dare challenge them. This may not be unconnected to the fact that Hausas live in many parts of the Local Government which share a common boundary with Kogi state (a North Central state).Thus, most of the Fulanis even have their own houses, Mosque and school in the LG. But the major challenge between them has been the issue of the visitors operating without restriction and even ready to kill anyone who questions their will.
Burnt bungalow
However, because of their topography, many parts of Uzo-uwani is divided against itself in terms of road as there is no road that connect their villages. For instance, for one to move from Abi to Ukpabi-Nimbo (a neighboring village), the person have to return to Nsukka from where he will see a fresh road that will take him through if you can’t scale through the threshold link parts. This may have aided fact that Abi village has never been attacked before by the herdsmen who often attack other parts of Uzo-uwani and kill at will.
The burnt 3 rooms
When they (Fulani herdsmen) finally visited Abi around 4:00pm of Tuesday 9thFebruary 2016, it was a surprise visit to the villagers who are not habouring any fear against their oppressing but unwanted visitors.
An eye witness who escaped by help of charm told our reporter that the over 20 Armed-to-the-tooth assailants came through a forest that demarcated Abi village with Ogwurugwu (another village in Kogi state).
Burnt machines
He said that the forest has been avoided by many as it’s a dreaded forest people don’t dare enter because of the wild animals it habour. He equally believed that the unwanted visitors were led by some other neighbors who knew the terrain very well. His judgment is premise on two things; the route they took and how straight they meandered to bust at their target village, and secondly, some 4 or 5 of them covered their faces, which is a sign that they may be well known neighbors.
The suspicion is fuel by the fact that it’s actually those who covered their faces that were in charge of burning selected buildings said Ezeugwu Emmanuel who watched the whole action from the shadow.
bullet holes in all parts of the wall
According Ezeugwu, “we were all in the farm when more than 20 of them arrived, some covering their faces. They shot me from the back but I escaped”.  When asked how he escaped unhurt, he laughed and replied that he is a traditionalist who believes in what he believed in.
51 year old late Felix Okozie wasn’t as lucky as Ezeugu as he was shot from the back chest in his cocoyam farm, he tried to run but the bullet had already shrinked his once fast moving legs. The assailants caught up with him and used their cutlass to cut off his neck to show they mean business. They took their time to butcher other parts of his body.
From there, they meandered to bust at the village camp itself where they immediately opened fire on all buildings at sight.
the man who sleeps under the tree – seated in the middle
Unfortunately, the butchered Felix’s house is the first in the camp. When gun started raining through his house, his elder sister Mrs. Mercy Anyaogu (54) and the first daughter Ugochukwu Okezie were in the house alongside few others who ran. The bullet hit Mrs. Mercy in her upper arm and since the house is not safer, they scamper for escape to a nearby bush. While Ugochukwu and few others were able to make it, Mrs. Mercy whose bullet wound was drowning couldn’t go far before the assailants caught up with her and finish her remaining life with more bullets, said Ugochukwu, the daughter of the late Felix in tears.
the tree that serves as the dispeled houses now
More worrisome is that both late Mr. Felix and Mrs. Mercy were of the same parents. Late Felix struggled hard to start his own building which is at linter level now, but it’s impossible for him to see the completion bemoaned the first daughter Ugochukwu, who added that they are 8 girls and 2 boys who have been forced by the herdsmen to become fatherless while still in their tender age.
From Felix house the assailants proceeded to Ezeugwu Emmanuel’s house where they broke in and pick his 3 phones, 6 pieces of wrappers his tailor wife was sewing, and N3000 they saw in the wife sewing machine. The next door to his is his younger brother’s who is the sole provision/drink seller in the community; The herdsmen forced the door open for the first round of merriment where they drank alcohols to their satisfaction. They subsequently emptied the remaining goods to their own ‘Ghana-must-go’ bag for further entertainment. It’s while parking these goods that they stumble on 25litres of fuel (black market) in the shop that assisted them in the house burning spree that followed. Emma’s blind aged mother escape from the blood seeking visitors was a miracle as Emmanuel was able to enter the house in the midst of the heat and pick her.
But Felix Ugwuoke (another victim) seems to be nursing bigger grief when our reporter visited the site that used to be his house. The herdsmen burnt his 3 room apartment and kitchen to the ground while he was still in the farm; everything was burnt to ashes before his return. While speaking with a greasy, he said “as you can see, I have never begged in my life but I’m now a beggar. This cloth I’m wearing was given to me by my neighbor who noticed that I was left with only farm cloth I came back with; that is the only cloth in my life now. My two wives and some of my 10 children have left to various places they could find shelter but I have no place to go, which is why I sleep under that tree (pointing at a big tree close to his house)”. He immediately stopped speaking as he sensed that his emotions have betrayed him and his tears were becoming unbearable.
Pledging assistance from security operatives to bring the perpetrators to justice, he said  “please beg the government and any person that can help to come to our rescue. I and my family and many others are depending on people’s help to see the next day. We need help urgently” he said.

Our correspondent reports that 6 buildings were burnt to ashes while others were partly affected with everything inside razed to dust.
Suspecting that they may be pursued with motor cycles or bicycle, they burnt all Automobile Machine and Bicycle at sight. Seven Motor Cycles and 3 Bicycles were equally burnt. Uncountable bullet could be seen in all different walls and gates. All houses louvers were completely destroyed.
But more worrisome is that while the whole operation lasted, the assailants kept shouting in Hausa language that “we are in charge, we are ruling, take our case to President and nothing will happen”.
Ezeugwu Ajugwu was washing his Machine when the gun carrying visitors arrived his compound. It’s only God and his racing ability that saved his life, said a neighbor while pointing at the remnant of what used to be Ezeugwu’s Machine.
There were several failed attempts to burn the unpainted one-storey bungalow of the LG PDP Chairman Mr. Albert Eze. The herdsmen heaped grasses beside the house wall, pour fuel and light but after the grasses burnt the house refused to burn. The resilient assailants moved to the other part of the house and light the robber waste pipe that connects upstairs and ground floor but the fire quenched itself after the pipe burnt but refused to connect the fire to other parts of the house.
His younger brother Remijus Okey who has the finest bungalow in the village wasn’t lucky enough. There were several bullet wounds in his gate to confirm that enough energy was dissipated to force his gate open before burning his building.
According to Ezeugwu Emmanuel who watched the burning of building, narrated “those boy really suffered to burn Remi house. They shot at his gate key more than 10 times but the key was too strong. They later tried knife but it refused to destroy. They later pour fuel and shoot but it still refused to open. Finally, the fat one who covered his face and carried two guns (one AK47 and one pump action hit the key severally, then place his AK47 on the key and shot it severally before it spoilt”
“Then he went inside with fuel”, he continued “pour it round, fetched and pour even on the zinc and everywhere, he then came towards the gate side and shot the house with his AK47 and fire was ignited. Suddenly, there was explosion which I believe came from the big generator they used to keep inside the house. The exploded generator helped to make sure the whole house burnt to ashes” he quipped.
From there they proceeded to Felix Utazi house. All attempt to destroy the gate key to gain access to the one Storey bungalow proved abortive as knife cuts and bullet wounds are still visible in the gate. They finally pour fuel to the boys’ quarter which is close to the fence and burnt it but the main building was spared as it wasn’t close to the fence.
All other good standing buildings were destroyed except for the aged houses and the mud one.

Anuka people (another neighboring village) have been having issues with the herdsmen. It was rumoured that they killed a Fulani during one of their cattle farm destruction faceoff, then hell was let loosed.
When Fulanis’ mobilized to visit Anuka, it was believed that Anuka people directed them to Abi village, saying that it wasn’t their people that killed one of them. It is believed that the bloody visitation was in retaliation to the killing.
The above view was believed by many Abi villagers who kept arguing that the soured farm relationship with the Fulanis cannot cause visiting their homes as their farms are far from their home.
Chidiebere Onyema who busted into the herdsmen during operation told our reporter that 4 of the assailants rounded him while riding on his bike but because he was prepared for such rainy days (through charms), his life was not cut shot when they opened fire on him.
Chidiebere has a different version of why their village was attacked. According to him, the frosty relationship between his people and the herdsmen in the farm which has never been rosy caused the invasion. He recounted how he had been rounded severally in his farm by the herdsmen. In one of the occasion, five of them had used matchet on him while they fought for several minutes before he escaped but lost his dame gun to them. He added that the their visitors came with enough ammunitions that could last them for a day as two out of the group member only carried Ghana must go bags filled with bullets.
But the victims of this incident believed that the LG Chainman visit 3 days after the incident is just the Nigeria pattern as nothing more may be heard from them. They alleged that their hope in the Police (who visited several days after the incident) can only be restored when the perpetrators has been fully brought to book, noting that they are well familiar with Police language of ‘investigation in progress’ which in most cases yield nothing till eternity.
It is no more news that Fulani herdsmen destruction of people’s farm is becoming an unwanted but acceptable way of life in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu state. The LGA shared a common boundary with both Anambra and Kogi states.
Number of Fulani herdsmen incidents and life destruction in Enugu state is greater than all of those of other 4 South East states put together.
Uzo-Uwani LG is purely an Agricultural community; they, to a great extent, feed Enugu and nearby states with their produce. They practically produce more than 20 species of foods, vegetables and fruits.
But more recently, there is recession among Uzo-Uwani farmers since the incident of Fulani rapping their women in the farm began. Unfortunately, when the herdsmen with impunity began to graze people’s farms with armed backed intimidation, many farmers began to withdraw especially from those farms that are not close enough to their homes.
The far distance farming recession later metamorphosed into a near total farm-phobia as the herdsmen now have all parts of the LGA for themselves, killing at will. The chiefs and elders themselves are no longer saved as they become target once they lend voices in admonishing the herdsmen invasion.
However,  the most worrisome part is that the cattle rearers don’t just invade peoples cassava farm, they now move into people’s farm with AK47 riffle and start pulling out the cassava tuber so that their cattle can consume both the leaf, stem and tubers. If the owner dare accost them, his live is solely under their invaders mercy.
A bike man who carried this reporter down to four different zones in Uzo-Uwani (Adani, Ukpabi, Mkpunator and Ukpata villages) to ascertain the level of cattle damages recounted how he came back to his own village last year from Bayelsa state to settle. All the money he came back with was invested in his cassava farm of almost 5 hectares. After all his labour, he woke to a call one day that cattle have invaded his farm. When he got there, he met with 4 well-armed herdsmen who told him that they have paid for the farm and if he dares them, his own is gone. He went out wailing and cursing but till date, both the government and the village elders have not done anything. His only remaining investment is the bike he is ridding to feed his family, he bitterly narrated.
His case is one out of hundreds.
As the country grapples with the challenge of dwindling oil price, the farming alternative may not flourish; not in a place like Uzo-Uwani LGA in particular and Enugu state in general as going to farm has turned to lives gambling risk which many who could have venture into agriculture are not ready to gamble.
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