Enugu Police Confirms Latest Herdsmen Attack On Enugu Community

Enugu Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Ammani

By Tony Adibe

The Enugu State Police Command have confirmed the early Sunday morning deadly attack by armed men, on a community in Eha-Amufu Community, although without any official figure of casualties.

The Command’s spokesman, DSP Daniel Ndukwe, who confirmed to latest attack in a text message, stated:  “Sketchy report at my disposal shows that there was an attack. But the assailants were repelled by a Joint Police/Army team, that is currently trailing them.”

Also, the Labour Party governorship candidate in Enugu State, Barrister Chijioke Edeoga, who confirmed the incident, said that there was urgent need for the concerned authorities to sincerely address the security concerns in the area, if indeed, elections would be expected to hold there in 2023.

Edeoga, who bemoaned the rising attacks allegedly carried out by suspected armed Fulani herdsmen in his Eha-Amufu area told a gathering of Southeast Labour Party Stakeholders’ Summit, tagged: “Road Map 2023 – Elections Pathway to Victory,” that security issues and safety of candidates during electioneering mattered a lot. The summit was held on Sunday at the event centre inside the premises of ShopRite, GRA, Enugu.

Edeoga said: ” Even as I’m talking now, my hometown in Eha-Amufu is underseige by armed militia. I don’t want to say that they are Fulanis. If I say they are Fulanis, I will be accused of profiling but even as I’m here now, Eha-Amufu is underseige by more than 500 armed men.

“And more than 14 villages in my hometown have been destroyed. So, Eha-Amufu is underseige. Igboeze North is underseige. Uzo-Uwani is underseige. Part of Udi is underseige. So, how many LGAs will remain and be ready for elections in Enugu State next year, if the security concerns are not addressed?”

Edeoga also recalled that yesterday, Saturday, 17, December, 20023, “we were unable to campaign in most parts of Igboeze-North because unknown gunmen have built a substantial part of Igboeze-North as their domain and the army and the police have found those places impenetrable”.

NewsBits learnt that like the previous violent attacks, this latest invasion was said to have been carried out by suspected armed Fulani herdsmen and their alleged collaborators from Benue State on the frequently attacked Ebor, Eha-Amufu Autonomous Community in Isi-Uzo Local Government Area of Enugu State.

According to a security source, the invaders who “out numbered the soldiers and local vigilante,” launched the attack on early Sunday morning, stressing that several people were killed. The source said: “‘As I speak to you, we are combing bushes in search of bodies of those killed. I can’t tell the exact number of people killed now as we are still searching the bushes.

“From report I received, the armed herdsmen and their collaborators from Benue State communities launched the attack around 5:30am to 6am this Sunday morning. Before we got there several people have been killed. We are few soldiers here and where we are based are a little bit far from the community. There’re no other security operatives from other security agencies here in Eha-Amufu helping except the local vigilantes. They (vigilantes) first engaged them, but the invading armed herdsmen out numbered them.”

An indigine and community leader, who identified himself as Ogbuabor Samuel, also confirmed the attack, but quickly urged the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi-led government to “do something drastic” in order to permanently stop the attacks, and “stop politicising” the situation in the area.

Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi

Ogbuabor said: “As I speaking to you, the invading armed herdsmen are still shooting. Several people have been killed, at least we have recovered bodies of 10 people.”

The community leader equally gave the Local Government Chairman, low score in the manner he has handled the security situation, and accused him of  “playing politics with the lives of Eha-Amufu because of 2023 general elections.”

Again, Ogbuabor stated: “The chairman of the Isi-Uzo Local Government Area is playing politics with our lives. He didn’t want to tell the Governor the true facts of what is happening in our community. He is not supporting the local vigilantes and other local security.

“Few weeks ago, he dissolved all the local vigilantes formed by Eha-Amufu communities yet he hardly visited the affected communities. We need the government to declare security emergency in Eha-Amufu – especially in Ebor, Umujiovu, Mgbuji and Agu-Amede communities. Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi should do something drastic. His government should stop politicising the situation in our place.

“They should stop fabricating stories that our people are collaborating in our situations. That is fallacy and diverting attentions to the real issues. Agala people in Benue State have joined forces with armed Fulani herdsmen attacking and killing our people every day. They have sacked several villages and occupied. They have destroyed our people’s livelihood. Properties worth millions have been destroyed and those in political positions in Enugu State are playing politics with it.

“Since these recent attacks started in October, we haven’t seen policemen. You can only see police if their commissioner is coming to assess destructions. And when the commissioner goes back to Enugu, he starts dishing out all sorts of narratives. Where are the tactical squad and operational Team of the police, he told Nigerians through the media that he had deployed to Eha-Amufu?

“We want to know whose interest are the security agencies in Enugu State protecting? The invading armed herdsmen?”

NewsBits recalls that although 25 lives were reportedly lost in the last attack on Ebor and Umujiovu communities on December 8, 2022, however, the police in the State informed newsmen that only four people were murdered.

As the violent incident occurred right inside Eha-Amufu town, it was learnt that many natives escaped from their homes and sought refuge in neighbouring communities in Ebonyi State while some others fled to Enugu capital, thereby being forced into Internally Displaced Persons category.

Reports have it that since way back in January 5, 2021 when it all allegedly began till Sunday December 18, 2023 at least over 100 people have been brutally murdered in four communities in Eha-Amufu by armed Fulani herdsmen and collaborators from Agala Community in Benue State.

NewsBits also recalls that late in November, Governor Ifeanyi had with security operatives went to the forests in the Eha-Amufu area after one of the deadly attacks by the suspected herdsmen.

Governor Ugwuanyi, on arrival at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, after a trip outside the State, proceeded straight to Eha Amufu, on a fact-finding visit to obtain first-hand information about the issues that led to the recent crisis in Aguamaede and Mgbuji communities.

He was accompanied by the State Commissioner of Police, CP Ahmed Ammani, the Garrison Commander, 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Brig. Gen. M.K Ibrahim, and the Anglican Bishop of Nike Diocese, Rt. Rev. Dr. Christian Onyeka Onyia, visited Mgbuji community, different forests, markets, village squares and other locations in Eha Amufu where he interacted with the indigenes to ascertain the remote cause of the recent crisis in the community with a view to addressing the lingering issues in the area decisively.

Governor Ugwuanyi commiserated with the people, ascertained how they were faring, and assured them of his administration’s commitment to their safety and wellbeing as well as the resolution of the crisis between farmers and herders. The Eha-Amufu indigenes appreciated Governor Ugwuanyi for the rare visit, especially at night, stressing that the gesture was a demonstration of his commitment to ending the farmers/herders’ issues in Eha Amufu.

They pointed out that Ugwuanyi was the first governor to visit Eha Amufu over the lingering crisis in the area and thanked him for the N10 million he released for the immediate needs of the victims, among other interventions. But there are anxieties and fears that irrespective of government promises and efforts, respite is yet to come the way of the indigenes of Eha-Amufu.

The Enugu State Police Command had also on various occasions assured the people of protection, but residents say the killings were yet to abate. Their claims were justified as the killers struck again a few days after the visit by the Governor and the heads of the security agencies.

This may have prompted the villagers to allegedly invite the members of the Eastern Security Network, ESN, as a last resort.  However, the burning of a truck conveying foodstuff with some of the occupants has heightened tension in the area.

The Enugu State Commissioner of Police, CP Ahmed Ammani, who visited the area, in company of the 82 Division Garrison Commander of the Nigerian Army Enugu, Brig. Gen. M. K. Ibrahim, other Senior Police/Military Officers and the Chairman of Isi-Uzo Local Government Area, Honourable Obiora Obeagu, condemned the burning of the truck and unspecified number of persons, at Umuhu in Eha-Amufu community.

According to a statement by DSP Daniel Ndukwe, the Commissioner, while commiserating with the families of those who lost their lives in the heinous criminal act and other reported attacks in the area, “made it clear that the Police, with the active support and collaboration of other security agencies, will leave no stone unturned in fishing out the assailants and perpetrators of other acts of attack and murder in the area.

“He reassures members of the Eha-Amufu community of the avowed commitment of the Security Agencies to deploy both kinetic and non-kinetic measures to decisively deal with the untoward security breaches in the area, while enjoining them remain law-abiding, cooperate with the Joint Security Team and avoid acting in ways that could further breach public security and peace in the area.

“Consequently, the CP has ordered the further deployment of operational and intelligence resources to the area, while also ordering the State CID to thoroughly investigate the incident, harmonise ongoing investigations into other recent criminal incidents in the community and come up with actionable findings.

“In addition, the Commissioner has dispelled in its entirety the news making the rounds that rather than goods and some travellers, as preliminary investigation has revealed, the truck was instead loaded with firearms, ammunition, and bandits.

“He described the rumour as baseless, misleading and an act of disinformation capable of creating unnecessary panic and escalating the situation in the area. Hence, he warns the creators and peddlers of such fake news to desist forthwith, as they will be made to face the full wrath of the law if apprehended.”

Perhaps, only time and circumstances will tell when and how the frequent attacks and killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen on the communities will end.

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