Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the Delta State Police Command, Mrs. Celestina Kalu, has rebutted newspaper reports that Fulani herdsmen allegedly beheaded a local woman and severely injured two others in Illah, in Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State last Thursday.
In a statement of rebuttal e-mailed to THISDAY in Asaba yesterday, Kalu, a deputy superintendent of police (DSP), noted that “the said story is totally false and misleading.”
Titled ‘Refutal: Re: Fulani Herdsmen Murder Woman in Illah’, which the police spokeswoman said was the headline of an online publication of a Nigerian newspaper (not THISDAY), the statement pointed out that the woman killed was actually a Hausa woman while the assailant – who was still at large – could not be identified as he wore a mask on his face.
“There was no crisis of any sort between herdsmen and Illah community”, the statement stressed, adding, “What really happened was that on 12 May, 2016 at about 1410hrs (2.10 p.m. local time) an unknown assailant wearing a mask (hacked) one Shefatu Garba (female), a Hausa woman of Ngegu Camp, Illah to death, injured two women who were with the deceased victim at the time and escaped.”
Kalu disclosed that “efforts to apprehend and bring the culprit to justice have been intensified” and said “the corpse of the victim has been deposited in Ebu General Hospital morgue for autopsy while the injured victims are receiving treatment in the hospital.”
Nevertheless, THISDAY learnt that three women went fishing at the Otu Ngegu river (Gulugulu) in Ajaji area of Illah community when some persons “dressed like herdsmen and wearing masks” emerged from the bush nearby and attacked them in an attempt to rape them.
“The women resisted which infuriated the assailants as one of them brought out a sharp cutlass and cut off the neck of one of the women, killing her instantly. The attacker also inflicted injuries on the two other women”, a source said.
The police spokeswoman, when contacted by THISDAY weekend, said “Yes, there was an attack on three women who were said to have gone to fish in a river in Illah community, but we cannot confirm that the assailants were herdsmen because the attacker covered his face with a mask.”
Illah community was recently in the news following the killing of one of its sons, Samuel Dumebi Okonta, an NYSC member killed by unknown gunmen during the INEC re-run election in Rivers State, where the young man was doing his mandatory national service.