UMUAHIA-ABOUT seven persons were reported to have sustained serious injuries and are now receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital, following a clash between the people of Ndi Okereke Abam in Ovukwu autonomous community of Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State and herdsmen.
The injuries, according to sources from the community, were sustained from gunshots and machete cuts. The incident was said to have occurred last Friday.
The leaders of the community accused the herdsmen of not only invading their farms with their cattle, but also uprooting their cassava plants to feed their cattle.
Narrating the incident, the President General of Ndi Okereke Abam Town Union, Chief Chukwuma Okubi, alleged that the herdsmen were in the habit of leading their cattle into farms.
According to Okubi, "they left the grass they normally graze on to destroy the crops which are our only source of livelihood."
He said that the community had in the past asked the herdsmen to leave the community due to their destructive activities, but that they later returned with a promise not to destroy the crops, saying that they had kept their promise of living peacefully until Friday.
He said: "Last Friday, when one of our men went to his rice farm with his family members to harvest their rice, he saw that the herdsmen had led their cattle to feed on the crop.
"The plea of the farmer to the herdsmen to take the cattle away from the rice farm fell on deaf ears. Instead they inflicted machete cuts on the man."
According to him, alarm raised by the family attracted the attention of youths, who engaged the herdsmen, "who opened fire on the youths, leaving six of them fatally wounded."
He said the timely arrival of the state Chairman of the Farmers/Herdsmen Committee and the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Leye Oyebade, and the team of policemen from Arochukwu, led by the Divisional Police Officer saved the community from more casualties.