Indigenes of Olomu Kingdom in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State have protested alleged robbery, rape, killing, destruction of farmland and an attempt by suspected Fulani herdsmen to forcefully take over their lands.
The protesters, comprising old and young women, gathered at Oguname-Olomu, one of the central communities in the kingdom, to lament that the suspected herdsmen have stopped them from going to the farms.
They alleged that they were always raped, while their farm products such as cassava were been harvested at gunpoint to feed their cows; and that those who attempted to resist the herdsmen were shot dead.
The protesting indigenes and residents also alleged that recently, the Fulani herdsmen devised a new method of ambushing unsuspecting indigenes at the Oguname Ughelli road, robbing them of their money and goods before killing them.
They alleged that one person, whose name could not be given, was allegedly killed by the suspected herders at a particular spot in the area, narrating that “the moment vehicles slow down at the spot which is bad, the Fulani herdsmen will appear from the bush”.
This victim who was driving an SUV Murano was shot dead on the spot.
They added that several persons have lost their lives within the Olomu kingdom to the bullets of the Fulani herdsmen, as well as losing their farmlands which they laboured to cultivate all through the year to Fulani herdsmen and their cows.
“They will enter the cassava farm and uproot the cassava in quantity to feed their cows. And in most cases, they will do this in your presence at gunpoint, and if you are not so lucky they will rape you and kill your husband right before you, one of the protesters alleged”.
The protesters chanted derisive songs as they carried placards that read: “Save our lives we are in danger in Olomu Kingdom,’ ‘Save Olomu Kingdom from Herdsmen invasion’, ‘We are Tired of molestation by herdsmen’, ‘We Won’t Allow Fulani to Chase us from Our Land’, ‘Government Must Relocate Fulani Herdsmen’, among others.
Speaking to journalists on the development, a notable youth leader in Okpare-Olomu community, Freeman Godwin Aghoshe said: “Our people have suffered in the hands of this boys. Government allows them to carry weapons around, but we dare not even go after them with sticks, government will come after you”.
He alleged that the herders, had occupied and destroyed crops planted on over 4500 acres of land at Olomu bushes.
“What they want is to invade our land and chase us away. They even come out in broad day light with powerful guns to rob at Ophorigbala community, a boundary community between Oguname-Olomu and Ovwor-Olomu very close to an army checkpoint.
“Can you imagine, they are now telling us where to farm and where not to farm. They have imposed some sort of curfew in this peaceful kingdom because none of us can’t go out or go to farm freely and the government has not done anything. Several hectares of land has been destroyed, they operate with assaulted rifles with lots of bullets while using their cows as shield”, he alleged.
Another indigene who spoke on condition of anonymity, alleged that over 400 farmers were affected in the recent upsurge of the Fulani herdsmen attack.
“Crops worth N150 million have been ravaged. They ate up farm produce like cassava, yam, corn, potato, and others and this has left us in hunger.
“We appeal to the state and federal government as well as private bodies to come to our aid and help us drive them from our land”.
Okpare-Olomu community has also mobilized the entire youths, women and men together and protested against the Fulani herdsmen as they combed every corners in the bush to chase out the Fulani herdsmen and their cows.
When contacted on telephone, the Commander of the Olomu Central Vigilante of the Viligante Group of Nigeria (VGN) Commander Ufuoma Arigi, said the excesses of the Fulani herdsmen were becoming unbearable.
He alleged that on the very first day of the first phase of the 14-day lockdown, Fulani herdsmen at about 6am waylaid a resident of Ophori-Olomu between Ogoni-Olomu and Oguname-Olomu, and he was cut with cutlasses both in the head and hands and collected his money, handsets and food he was taking to his family.
He said the vigilante group was called upon and they responded but unfortunately, couldn’t apprehend the assailants.
The VGN Commander alleged that within two days, another resident who was taking his wife to Ughelli in the early hours of the day was again ambushed along Ophorigbala road where they used a heavy wood to flog the man who would have died but for the the helmet he wore.
The State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Onome Onowakpoyeya when contacted, said that the State Police Command had not been briefed on the developments.