By Omon-Julius Onabu
As the people of Okpanam community continue to vent their anger following Thursday killing of two members of their local vigilance group, an angry mob yesterday set ablaze a hamlet occupied by Fulani herdsmen.
The small Fulani settlement called Obodogba situated within Okpanam in Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State was apparently a reprisal for the killing of two vigilance members by gunmen alleged to be Fulani herdsmen.
Three persons were shot, two fatally as the local vigilance combed nearby bushes on Thursday for a woman kidnapped with her daughter abducted from her residence in Okpanam.
The leader of Okpanam local vigilance group, identified as Emeka alias “Chosen” and another were killed by the suspected kidnappers who ambushed the search party; a third person was shot in the leg.
Angered by the senseless killing while the abductees were still missing, Okpanam youths demonstrated against the incident on Thursday, barricading the ever-busy Benin-Asaba-Onitsha Expressway at Okoanam Junction near the Asaba International Airport, disrupting for hours both socio-economic activities and traffic on the expressway and adjoining streets.
It took the deployment of soldiers, who complemented the efforts of the policeman on ground to disperse the protesters and restore normalcy.
However, the youths of Okpanam accused Fulani herdsmen for the state of violent attacks, kidnapping and killing of innocent people and declared that they had had enough of the intimidation by Fulani, saying they did not behave like visitors.
It was learnt that several little huts made of thatch were razed, some of the occupants’ belongings destroyed while a cow was killed by the irate mob that stormed the hamlet or camp used by the Fulani nomads.
Most of the herdsmen had taken their cattle for grazing when the angry youths stormed the small settlement, with mainly women and little children home, THISDAY gathered.
Leader of the Fulani settlement, Mr. Abubakar Haruna, alleged that the irate mob not only destroyed their huts and property but stole valuables including cash.
Haruna, who appealed to the Delta State Government for help, however denied that their members were involved in criminal activities like kidnapping and armed robbery, saying they were all law-abiding people who followed due process in negotiating and paying for the land for the camp with the Okpanam community.