Police: Killers not herdsmen
David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka
A middle-aged woman whose name was not immediately ascertained has been allegedly raped and murdered in her farmland by persons suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
The incident which happened last Saturday in Nteje, Oyi Local Government Area in Anambra State is said to have sparked off meetings in the community, as members met in a bid to ascertain her identity.
A source in Nteje, who spoke on a condition of anonymity, said the news went round the community last Saturday when the corpse of the victim was discovered.
The monarch of Nteje community, Igwe Rowland Odegbo, who spoke to THISDAY over the telephone, confirmed the death, but said the deceased was not from his community
He said the picture of the deceased has been taken round the community, and no one could identify her as one of their own.
â€œThe incident happened in a land belonging to our neighbour, Umuleri. That was where she was found. So we suspect that she may be from Umuleri or even Aguleri. The matter has already been lodged at Otuocha police division,â€ Odegbo said.
Another source from the community insisted that the woman was from Nteje and had just completed the burial rites of her husband in February. The source said the woman who had gone to her farm was later discovered dead, and was also suspected to have been raped before being killed.
When THISDAY reached out to the spokesperson of the Anambra State Police Command, Princess Nkeiru Nwode, for confirmation, she denied that the incident had anything to do with herdsmen.
She said: â€œI donâ€™t know of the woman being murdered by Fulani herdsmen. There is nothing to show that Fulani herdsmen were involved in the killing. That matter is a sensitive issue and I would not want you to report what would set off the peace we have in the state.â€
She however stated that one person has been arrested in connection with the matter, and was still being held in their custody.
On whether the detained suspect was a Fulani herdsman, Nwode declined comment, saying investigation was still on, and that it was too early to divulge vital information.
â€œI cannot tell you now if the suspect is Fulani or not because it is too early. We will let you people know about that at the appropriate time. You must know the issue is also sensitive and requires a lot of carefulness.â€
Anambra State has a standing policy of holding herdsmen responsible for any damage caused by their herds to farmersâ€™ crop or indigenous farmers paying for the death of cattle if found responsible, but what would be done in the event of a herdsman killing a farmer was still unknown.
Attempt to reach the state Police Commissioner, Garba Umar, who is a member of the committee on resolution of farmers, herdsmen crisis in the state, on possible ways of resolving the issues if the deceased was found to have been murdered by herdsmen was not successful.