Nigeria: Unease in Ebonyi Community as herdsmen threaten attack, demand ‘taxes’ from villagers
Residents of Ufuezeraku village in Ugwulangwu community in Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State are currently living each minute of their lives in fears of possible attack by Fulani herdsmen who have seized a large potion of their farmlands and demanded ‘taxes’ from villagers.
A resident of the community who spoke to journalists on Friday said the herdsmen have threatened to attack and sack the whole village if the villagers fail to comply with their demand of N200, 000 (Two Hundred Thousand Naira) levy for wounding one of their cows.
The resident who pleaded anonymity for fear of harassment, also confirmed social media reports about apprehension in the community. He said some villagers were yet to return to their homes after a group of herdsmen stormed the village, recently, moving from one compound to another and threatening attack over a wounded cow.
“We are living in fears now because nobody knows when the herdsmen may strike. As I speak to you, some families are yet to return to their homes after a recent threat by the herdsmen. A group of herdsmen, wielding clubs, machetes and guns stormed Ufuezaraku village last week, moving from one compound to the other, threatening everyone. The herdsmen were accusing us for being responsible for a wound which one of their cows sustained on its right foot. The herdsmen said they suspected that a villager might have inflicted the wound on the cow. They said the whole community must pay for the wound on the cow’s leg else, they would sack the whole village. For fear of attack, villagers fled their homes and many of them are yet to come back”, he said.
He said that community leaders have agreed that the villagers must contribute money to pay the N200, 000 to the herdsmen but only N150, 000 have so far being realised.
Another villager who spoke to our correspondent on phone said Ufuezeraku village has a major attraction for the herdsmen because of the lush vegetation of their hilly farmlands.
“The herdsmen have allocated our farmlands to themselves. They divided our farmlands into about six territories. Territory ‘A’, for instance cannot encroach into territory ‘B’. Nobody dares go near the farmlands any longer, not even to pick foliage for our own sheep and goats. We dare not talk to them. The worst thing now is that the herdsmen have started moving towards where the villagers live. We have reported this situation to the local government authority but they are not responding fast”.
The residents called on the State and Federal Government to act fast and restore peace in the community and assure the residents that their lives are protected.
The first resident said: “Let these herdsmen leave our farmlands for us. We don’t have another means of livelihood apart from farming. If they have occupied the whole Ufuezaraku farmlands, where do you expect us to farm. And upon that, they make us live in fears each second of our lives. The government is being unfair to us for keeping quiet. The government should have the willpower to ask the herdsmen to be peaceful or leave our community”.