THE police in Ebonyi State have explained how suspected Fulani herdsmen attacked, killed and injured residents of communities in Ishielu Local Government in the state.
State police spokesperson Loveth Odah confirmed the attack to The ICIR on Thursday during a telephone interview.
Odah said the attack took place on Monday night in Nkalaha, Obegu, Amazu, Nkalagu and Umuhuali autonomous communities.
She said although the police did not witness the attacks, villagers in the communities said the victims were attacked by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
She also disputed the death toll in the attack, saying that six persons had been confirmed dead while seven were critically injured, contrary to reports that 15 persons were killed by the suspected herders.
“We have only confirmed the death of six persons. Seven others were critically injured but are responding to treatment already,” Odah said.
When asked how the villagers were killed, Odah stated that the police found gunshot wounds on the victims.
Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State condemned the attack when he visited the bereaved families to ascertain the level of damage by the assailants.
“We feel so sad that this kind of thing should happen in Ebonyi. We feel so worried for our country Nigeria and we are short of words.
“We condemn this attack because it is capable of causing very serious killings, if allowed to continue this way,” Umahi said.
The governor also appealed to the communities to remain calm and desist from reprisal attacks while charging security operatives to ensure that the perpetrators were brought to book.
What the police found
The state police command said an investigation had commenced into the killings and the Miyetti Allah Association in the state had been invited.
Police spokesperson Odah said the Miyetti Allah had also been asked to come along with all community heads of Fulani herders across the affected communities.
The police also confirmed that there had been a clash between the herders in the communities and the villagers that led to the expulsion of the herders to another community in a neighbouring community in Enugu State.
When asked if there were herders’ operations in the attacked communities, the police said, as of the time of the attack, the herders had already been expelled from the communities over a clash with the residents. She, however, noted that the cause of the clash had not been ascertained.
Farmers/herders crisis in Nigeria
There have been several reports of farmers/herders crisis across almost every region in Nigeria.
A study conducted by a research development and policy advocate Zinariya Consults estimated that over 300,000 people had been displaced, with 1, 868 deaths recorded in four states since 2018 due to clashes between farmers and herders in Nigeria.
According to the study, the competitive access to water and grazing land often led to frequent clashes between farmers and herders in several parts of the country.