- We’ll no longer tolerate this heartless killings, says Ugwuanyi
Christopher Isiguzo and Gideon Arinze in Enugu
Suspected Fulani herdsmen in the early hours of on Thursday invaded the sleepy Ndiagu Attakwu Akegbe-Ugwu community in Nkanu West Local Government Area of Enugu State, killing a Catholic seminarian, Lazarus Okafor, and injuring four others, including a pregnant woman.
The suspected herders were said to have invaded the Ogbodo Nwarum family compound in the community at about 2 a.m. and wreaked havoc on the entire household.
While the seminarian had severe machete cuts which led to his death, the four others — the landlord of the house Ogbodo Nwarum, his aged mother, pregnant wife and son — had their bowels ripped open by the herders who left them gasping for life.
The state Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, however, warned that the state would no longer tolerate the mindless killings by the suspected herdsmen, directing the security operatives to ensure that those who were involved in the dastardly act were fished out and made to face the full weight of the law.
The traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Greg Ugwu, and the council chairman, Afam Okereke, said the attackers gained access into the building through the ceiling from where they jumped into the house and unbolted the panel door.
“We heard that the herdsmen had visited the area on Wednesday with their cows and were destroying the garden within the family compound but the elderly woman had to sound the local gong to alert the neighbourhood which made the herdsmen to flee the area warning however that they would return.
“By 2 a.m, they returned and made sure they attacked everybody in the house. They had initially left deep cuts on the man of the house and ripped the bowels of the women including the pregnant woman to the point that their intestines gushed out. It was at that point that the seminarian who just graduated from the seminary, Spiritan International School of Theology, Atakwu and returned the previous day from school after graduation came out from his room to find out what was happening and unfortunately, they used their matchete on him and he bled to death,” the royal father narrated.
The incident left the entire community in tears as the four injured persons were rushed to the Mother of Christ Hospital and the ESUT Teaching Hospital as at the time of filing this report.
Speaking when he paid a visit to the community yesterday morning to assess the situation and possibly prevail on the people not to engage in any form of reprisal, the governor condemned the act in its entirety, insisting that the wanton destruction of lives would no longer be tolerated.
The governor, who also led a team of security operatives to the Fulani settlement located at the forest near the community but without sighting any of the herders who obviously had fled the area with their families for fear of a reprisal, immediately summoned an emergency meeting of the Fulani community in the state and security operatives.
While lamenting that the latest attack was coming a few days after the Judicial Panel of Inquiry that looked into the immediate and remote causes of the April 25 attack on Ukpabi Nimbo community in Uzo-Uwani council where about 48 persons were killed had submitted an interim report, the governor said he would not rest until the perpetrators were caught.
The governor, who was accompanied on the visit by the Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Rt. Rev. Calistus Onaga, the Director of the Department of State Services (DSS), and other top government functionaries, promised to take care of the hospital bills of those receiving treatment at the hospitals.
“I have already summoned security meeting this afternoon of Fulani community and the security agencies in Enugu State to review the situation and determine the appropriate actions to be taken. It is indeed unfortunate that this incident is coming just days after the commission of inquiry into the killings at Nimbo submitted an interim report and is about to complete its assignment,” he said.
While sympathising with the family of the deceased who hails from Imo State but lived in the community before his gruesome murder and the wounded, the governor said his administration would continue to protect lives and property, noting that anybody found to be undermining the security of the state would be made to face the law.
Meanwhile, the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has condemned, in strong terms, the dawn attack by suspected herdsmen on Attakwu, Akagbe Ugwu community, Enugu State, which left a Catholic seminarian dead and four others injured.
This was even as he commended the state governor and security agencies for their gallantry in busting the robbery attack on Independence Layout, Enugu on Wednesday.
Ekweremadu said the incessant attacks on parts of the country by suspected herdsmen posed a grave threat to the peace, security, and economy of the country. He called on the federal government to take decisive steps to put a full stop to the ugly incidents.
He said: “This is another heartbreak, not only for Enugu State, but the nation in general; and whatever evil forces are behind these reprehensible acts certainly do not wish the country well. It must not be condoned.
“The primary objective of government is the welfare and security of the citizens. The federal government must take decisive steps to put a full stop to this wanton destruction of lives and property; and the security agencies must do everything humanly possible to ensure that the perpetrators of this act of wickedness in Akagbe-Ugwu do not go unpunished.”
The Deputy President of the Senate condoled with the affected community and prayed for the peaceful repose of the dead.
On the thwarted robbery attack on Enugu, Ekweremadu commended Governor Ugwuanyi for his demonstration of courage and concern as the chief security officer of the state by physically rallying security forces to the robbery scene to ensure that it was foiled and the suspects arrested.
“Enugu is a peaceful place, and I salute the gallantry and efforts of Governor Ugwuanyi and the security agencies to ensure that it remains so,” he stressed.