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BREAKING: Nigeria College Of Education, Communities Flee Over Herdsmen’s Killings In Enugu

The latest attack by the herdsmen on Sunday had claimed the lives of seven people including two leaders of a vigilance group that had been protecting the community.

The Federal College of Education, Eha-Amufu in Enugu State has been deserted as students of the institution trooped home for fear of being killed in the herdsmen’s crisis, SaharaReporters learnt on Tuesday.

SaharaReporters gathered that to make matters worse, the abandoned houses are now vulnerable as criminals vandalise properties and cart away personal belongings of the displaced Eha-Amufu residents.

A trader, one Asogwa Nneka, a settler in Eha-Amufu, narrated that criminals broke through all the shops in their line on Sunday, looking for money and other items. She stated that food items were stolen by the burglars.

The latest attack by the herdsmen on Sunday had claimed the lives of seven people including two leaders of a vigilance group that had been protecting the community was the last strike that broke the Camel’s back.

The unending attacks forced the remaining residents to flee the entire town, leaving it desolate.

A cleric, one Pastor Emeka, told SaharaReporters on Tuesday morning that people were moving out of the community like exodus. “My brother, what is happening in Eha-Amufu this morning is an exodus. It appeared that security agencies brought to Eha-Amufu are here to supervise the final destruction of Eha-Amufu. People are living Eha-Amufu to God’s know where. This is the final burial of Eha-Amufu yet we have a government in Enugu state.”

Another resident, Chisomo Olinya said “if government cannot protect the people, why is the government deploying all the apparatus of the state force to destroy our youths in the name of fighting members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).”

Mrs Nkechi Ebeh is a mother of five children and native of war-torn Ebor community, Eha-Amufu in Isi-Uzu local government area of Enugu State.

She is one of the lucky survivors of the December 8, 2022 gruesome and vicious attack on her community by armed Fulani herdsmen with their collaborators from Agala, Benue State.

Although survived, her husband, Friday Ebeh, was among 25 people, all males that were massacred in their houses during an early morning attack.

Distressed Nkechi, who was seen crying during a visit to Ebor and other troubled communities of Mgbuji and Umujiovu, told SaharaReporters that she lost her husband and relatives to the December 8, 2022 massacre, adding that she only survived by God’s mercy.

The 45-year-old woman while narrating her ordeal, said, “We were going to the farm on that fateful day when suddenly we saw some persons in their numbers holding guns and machetes marching to our community, Ebor. They first entered my village Ama-Obelebe. They started pursuing us which made me run back home. On getting to the house, I could not find my children and my husband at home.

“Later I discovered that my husband was among the people killed. In the evening I got information that my children were in Ama-Nkanu, a distant neighbouring community, which is very far from Eha-Amufu. My husband was buried when his corpse was discovered the next day,” she lamented.

On the identity of those who attacked them, Nkechi Ebeh said that they were Fulani herders, together with Agala people of Benue State. “We don’t hear the language of Fulani but we hear that of Agala people because they are our neighbouring community.”

She pleaded with the government to come to their aid as they would not live as Internally Displaced Persons forever.

A resident of Ebor community, Mr. Chukwudi Omeri while giving an insight into the December 8 invasion, revealed that about 10 people were killed in Ama-Obelebe village, including his brother, Mr. Friday Omeri, a father of nine.

Lamenting the brutal murder of his people, Chukwudi said, “The attack occurred at about 6am on the fateful day when sounds of heavy gunshots were heard around the community. Most people, including myself, had thought that it was the security agencies that were shooting but we discovered that the gun-wielding men wore black and black attire, while those leading them were in mufti.

“The attackers of the community came through the farmlands. I saw some faces that looked like the Fulani herders, while others looked like the faces of Agala people from Benue State who are our neighbours. They led the Fulani herders to the community.

“I was able to identify the Agala people through their dialect, as well as on face recognition as some of them are traders who come to the Eha-Amufu markets to trade on a daily basis.”

He further stated that though he could not give the exact casualty figure, “about four people were killed in Ama-Okwebe, one person was killed in Ama-Ogbu, while four people were killed in Ama-Nkpaka.”

When the crisis subsided, he said some dead bodies littered the community, adding that “as the tradition demands, we buried the corpses that were recovered by digging shallow graves beside the dead bodies. While some of the corpses were being buried, some police officers came and took some of the unburied corpses away, including that of my brother, Mr. Friday Omeri.”

According to Chukwudi Omeri, his late brother Friday Omeri was gruesomely murdered in his house with matchet.

“Four other persons, who were all men, were killed in the same compound and the police took their bodies away on arrival,” he added.

When asked if the members of the community were able to arrest any of the killers, Chukwudi said that they were all defenceless and could not fight with the attackers who were armed with AK-47 rifles and other dangerous weapons.

He lamented that as of Monday December, 12, 2022, four days after the attack more corpses were still being discovered and buried in the community.

On the plight of the residents, Chukwudi said the survivors were facing extreme hunger, while thanking the Labour Party Governorship candidate in Enugu State, Barr. Chijioke Edeoga, who was on a sympathy visit to the affected communities on the said date.

Edeoga, who is also a native of Mgbuji community, Eha-Amufu used the visit to share meals to survivors and appealed to people who fled the communities to return back while assuring that they are making frantic efforts to provide them security.

When asked of the whereabouts of his wife and children, he told journalists that they ran to Nkalaha, a neighbouring community in Ebonyi State and that some of his relatives ran to Anambra for safety.

He asked the government to come to their rescue as the community is at the verge of going into extinction.

Another eyewitness, Mr. Anthony Onunze, a 60-year-old man, revealed that the crisis started from the farm settlements where the members of the community were killed by Fulani herders.

He said that the latest crisis started on January 6, 2022, when the Fulani herders started killing their people.

“Since then, no one goes to the farm again. And this has brought hunger and hardship on the people. He stated that the attack on 8th December, 2022, led to the death of 25 persons in Abor village. The victims were all men as the attackers never killed any woman during the attack.

“The aged men were not left in the attack as my age mate’s lifeless body was discovered and buried on Monday the 12th of December, 2022.

“We have not done anything to warrant these mindless killings; I’m not aware of any issue with the Fulani herdsmen except that they want to chase us away from our ancestral land,” he lamented.

He equally alleged the attackers were assisted by the Agala people of Benue State.

He told journalists that “The said Agala people are so desperate to take over our lands as they have begun harvesting our palm fruit since the crisis started. The Agala people have common boundaries with the Eha-Amufu community, which may be what has necessitated the rift between the two communities.”

SaharaReporters had reported that armed Fulani herdsmen had levied ‘war’ of extermination on four communities – Agu-Amede, Mgbuji, Umujiovu and Ebor, Eha-Amufu that had boundaries with Benue state since January 2021. No fewer than 120 people had been killed and counting while 40 villages and farm settlements had been sacked by the invading herders with their Benue state collaborators.

SaharaReporters reports that following the recent attacks, Eha-Amufu, a third largest town in Enugu State with second largest market in the state has turned to a ghost area as villagers and settlers had fled. The communities are totally under siege, with markets locked up, houses abandoned, and all the residents now seeking refuge as Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in neighbouring towns and cities.

Like in any other parts of the country, prior to the latest sad event on Thursday, the 8th day of December, 2022, Eha-Amufu has been witnessing series of killings and other criminal activities, with every effort made by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuayi of Enugu State unable to yield the desired result.

The Governor had, on several occasions, summoned an emergency meeting involving all the stakeholders from the area. During such meetings, revelations are always made and actions taken. Unfortunately none of the actions have yielded the desired result. As soon as the residents return home, the marauders, said to be Fulani herdsmen will strike again and leave the village bleeding.

Apart from the killings that usually occurred at early morning hours, kidnapping along major access roads leading to the town especially Eha-Amufu – Ikem road has been a den of kidnappers, making it unsafe for any member of the community to pass by once it is 6pm. Road users are always kidnapped and taken to the Benue State axis where they are kept until ransom is paid.

Eha-Amufu, an agrarian community, has a population of over 70,000, with a larger portion of the residents dependent on farming for their survival. It shares boundaries with Ebonyi and Benue States.

With the constant unchecked attacks, the entire residents are under threat, including the Federal College of Education, Eha-Amufu, which has attracted some significant development both from the government, as well as private individuals in the area.

A tour of the communities showed that no human activity is going on at the moment.

Shops are under lock, markets and businesses have been closed down.

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