A clash between farmers and herdsmen in Ozuitem community in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State has left many residents hospitalised, with large amount of crops destroyed.
The attack came after the Ndiokereke Abam clash of November 8 and is the third in less than one month in different parts of Abia State within Abia North senatorial zone.
Security operatives in the state appear overwhelmed, as no herdsman has ever been paraded or arraigned in the state despite their increasing attacks on communities.
Those that sustained machete cuts in the Ozuitem community attack are receiving medical attention at Tochi Hospital in Uzuakoli.
One of the victims, Mr Sunday Oru, a 40- year old father of seven currently receiving treatment at Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, said that the rampaging herdsmen, with over 3,000 cows, have been marauding in the community, destroying farm lands and crops with impunity.
“They arrogantly uprooted farmers’ cassava, okro and cut down plantains to feed their cows while the farmers pleaded that they should to leave the community.
“The pleas fell on deaf ears, as the nomads vowed to rather fight to occupy our land if we attempt to evict them, boasting that they will defeat us and take over our land.
“I went to my rice farm only to discover that cows were openly grazing on it and the herdsmen chased me away when I told them that the cows are causing havoc.
“I ran back to the village to alert other members of the community ,and together in group we went back to the farm
“On getting there, we saw one herdsman and we asked him why they allowed the cows to destroy crops and immediately he blew a whistle and other herdsmen who had been laying ambush surrounded us, hitting us with guns, assault us with rifles and machetes.
“One of them cut off my fingers and started cutting my body with machete. I lost consciousness and only woke up to see myself here at the hospital,” he narrated.
The spokesman for the State Police Command, Mr Ogbonnaya Nta, who confirmed the incident, said the police were on top of the situation while the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. Eme Okoro, who is a resident of the community expressed sadness over the attack.
Dr. Okoro said that the herdsmen had threatened to feed on his three hectares of cassava farm with various varieties of cassava.
“I warned the herdsmen never to invade my farm but they told me that the farm is in a forest area and I am surprised, wondering at the nomads audacity to challenge me, a land owner,” he said.
The government official said that he got wind of the possible attack on his community about three days before it occurred and that he alerted the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone 9, but it was disheartening that no action was taken to prevent the attack.
“We are humane and interested in the unity of this country but not to the detriment of our people,” he stated.
Although the Commissioner of Police in the state is trying to tie the loose ends to unravel the reason the herdsmen were allowed to carry out their threat, the people are lamenting the nonchalant attitude of the Federal Government over the incessant attacks by herdsmen on the communities in Abia State
Meanwhile, the Ozuitem women who depend mainly on okro as their mainstay had been thrown into hardship as a result of the destruction of their crops which the herdsmen uproot to feed their cows.