By Emmanuel UgwuÂ inÂ Umuahia
Fear of herdsmen attack has gripped Ndiolumbe Nvosi community of Isiala Ngwa local government, Abia State following the refusal of herdsmen to vacate farm lands, insisting that it was their right to choose where to graze their cattle.
The traditional ruler of the agrarian community, HRH Eze Godwin Ogbonna told journalists at his Eziaha palace that his people became apprehensive when a man who gave his name as Mohammed Shuaibu came and threatened the community for ejecting cattle from farmlands after two weeks of devastation of crops.
He said that over 100 herds of cattle had come from Umuoba area and moved into Okiyi farm land and for two weeks, grazed in the area destroying farm crops to the chagrin of farmers who watched helplessly as their labour was wasted.
â€œYou can imagine where 100 cows stayed for two weeks, trampling on the farms and feeding on crops. Cassava, corns, vegetables and other valuable farms crops were laid waste. Hunger is looming as crops ready for harvest and the newly planted ones were all destroyed.
â€œIâ€™ve been appealing to my people to be patient but the herdsmen refused to leave hence some youths forced them out the farms, they were just driven out without any fight,â€, he explained.
However, tension heightened when Shuaibu came down from Okigwe and told the traditional ruler that the herdsmen would not abandon grazing their cattle at Ndiolumbe, saying that they had surveyed the area and found it â€œvery suitable for grazingâ€.
According to him, the spokesman of the herdsmen insisted that they should be allowed to graze and pay compensation any time their cattle destroyed farm crops but the community refused the offer on the ground that they wonâ€™t be living on compensation.
â€œOur people are farmers and the herdsmen should understand that our crops are as important to us as their cattle are to them. So they should leave us alone and stop courting trouble,â€ the monarch said.
When contacted on phone Shuaibu confirmed the misunderstanding with Ndiolumbe, saying that they were invited by government Thursday where the matter was resolved.Â He said that the herdsmen had agreed to take their cattle away from the farmlands, adding, â€œwe have moved to a neighbouring village.
It was gathered that the special adviser to the governor on security, Capt. Awa Udensi (rtd) had invited representatives of Ndiolumbe and herdsmen to a peace parley to avoid the dispute resulting in bloody confrontation.