The umbrella body of Amalgamated Ngboejeogbu Youth (ANY) has seriously challenged the Ebonyi State Government position on the unwarranted attack meted out to the people of Umuogudu Akpu Autonomous Community on Monday morning 12th April, 2021, by some men numbering over one hundred which claimed the lives of about twelve people of the community, among millions of naira worth of properties lost.
ANY is not happy with the hasty government press release which exonerated the Fulani militia from the act when investigations into the act are already proving the mayhem to be the handiwork of the herdsmen.
In a communiqué issued to pressmen by members of ANY on Tuesday, 13th April, they raised serious objections to the government press release stating it was like exonerating the accused persons of being responsible for the mayhem at the expense of the citizenry.
According to the communiqué, “It was stated that the attackers were visibly sighted and recognized as Fulani men by some survivors who said affirmatively that the accused persons did not only have the full physical features of Fulani people but speak language known as Fulfulde during the attack.
“Additionally, all the contact numbers contained in the mobile phones of the slain people which were snatched by the attackers, when they were called after the incident by Ngbo people, the calls were received and answered in Fulani accent.
According to the document, as serious search is ongoing in the affected areas to ascertain the level of havoc, about twelve lacerated lifeless bodies have already been recovered while many persons are still missing.
Members of ANY also acknowledged the intervention of security men in the areas and frowned at any attempt either from government or individuals to politicize the incident for whatsoever reason.
The union members further criticized the alleged hasty conclusion of Ebonyi State government officials whom through press release had earlier exonerated Fulani people from being responsible for the devilish act.
“If mere denial of being involved can serve as an adequate criterion in determining the person who partook in the horrendous act or who was not involved as assumed without proof by Ebonyi State government through its press release dated 12th April 2021.
“We wish to ask, since Ado LGA chairman of Benue State has debunked the allegation leveled against his people claiming that they were the ones who master-minded the attack.
“Can Ebonyi State government tell the world exactly the people who attacked Ngbo people on 12th April 2021?” It queried.
Furthermore, the union claimed that the press release from Ebonyi State government with its unverified facts is tantamount to taking side with the Fulani attackers against Ngboejeogu clan.
“Unlike the usual prompt action of government which include visitation, provision of relief materials, encouraging and consoling the affected persons before issuing press statement as the case of Egedegede in Ishielu L.G.A. where Fulani men also attacked recently.
“State government did not care to send any of its officials to us and make on-the-spot assessment over the terror before heading to the press.
“Therefore, we then ask, where, when and how did government conduct the said investigation that led to the preliminary report and conclusion?” the people asked.
The document also disclosed that the members of the association were worried following the fact that the government through it press release was allegedly interested in projecting Fulani people as blameless over the incident rather than stating the facts.
“We can recall vividly that last year when we received security report stating that Fulani herdsmen were planning to attack some selected communities in Ebonyi State which Ohaukwu LGA was prominently mentioned.
“Around September 2020, the state governor called for security meeting which comprised all the service chiefs and other critical stakeholders, later similar meetings were stepped down at the council areas and Ohaukwu held its own between 21st and 22nd September 2020 consecutively.
“Thus, we want to know the action plan of the government concerning the information and how the plans were implemented,” they stated
The report also claimed that the attack on Ngbo people from Agila axis was connivance between Fulani people and Agila which should have been properly investigated, but surprisingly Ebonyi State government hurriedly defended the enemy at the expense of law-abiding indigenes of Ngbo.
The government was advised to shun sentiment and rise to its statutory responsibility of protecting lives and properties of Ngbo nation while urging good spirited individuals and corporate bodies to come to the aid of the victims who had lost means of livelihood to the suspected blood sucking Fulani marauders.
The attack was launched on the following villages: Ebele Umugadu, Otuebu Umugadu, Ndiegu Ibe-Agba and Odebo also affected over fifty buildings, many bans which were filled with tubers of yam, shops and other business places.
According to them, as serious search is ongoing in the affected areas to ascertain the level of havoc, about twelve lacerated lifeless bodies have already been recovered while many persons are still missing.
Members of ANY however acknowledged the intervention of security men in the areas and frowned at any attempt either from government or individuals to politicize the incident for whatsoever reason.
“Fulani herders promise not to attack any part of Ebonyi.”
The state government revealed this in a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Governor, Dr. Monday Uzor, while exonerating the herders from the massacre of people early hours of 12th April 2021.
The state government disclosed that the leadership of Miyetti Allah assured her and the entire people of the state that they will not attack any part of Ebonyi state as preliminary investigation showed that the massacre was the result of a renewed attack from Agila people in Benue state.
Ebonyi State government exonerated Fulani herders from the recent killings in Umuogudakpu Ngbo community of Ohaukwu Local Government Area in Ebonyi State.
“Ebonyi State Government has received with dismay violent attack on the people of Umuogudu Akpu-Ngbo Community in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of the State in the early hours of Monday, 12th April, 2021.
“The general public is hereby informed that preliminary investigations have indicated as follows: That the attack was not carried out by Fulani herdsmen as being speculated in different quarters.
“That the Government of Ebonyi State is in touch with the leadership of the Fulani herdsmen (Miyetti Allah) who denied involvement in the attack. That the Leadership of the Fulani herdsmen has assured Government and people of Ebonyi State that they will not on any account perpetrate attack on any party of Ebonyi State.
“That the recent attack on Ngbo is linked to the age-long crisis between the community and their Agila neighbours of Benue State.
“However, the Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State His Excellency Barr Eric Kelechi Igwe Ph.D has swiftly responded by directing the military and police to move into the community to repel the attack and restore peace.
“The general Public and in particular, the people of Ngbo are requested to remain law abiding and avoid reprisal as government is working hard to restore normalcy to the affected Community.
“Please be assured of the readiness of the Governor David Nweze Umahi led administration to secure the lives and property of citizens at all times.”
The attack on Ngbo villages of Otebu, Igideobu, and Obodoocha came 24 hours after Southeast Governors announced the joint security task force codenamed EBUBEAGU for the zone.
While some residents of the villages said the attack was carried out by herdsmen, some said suspected warlords massacred the people.
Recall that the people of Ngbo and Agila, Benue state have been at war for many decades over boundary matters with thousands killed and properties worth billions of naira destroyed.
Some of those killed included a native doctor identified as Emmanuel, Chidiebere, Emma Nwanjoku, Grace Ebere Ogba, Idenyi Festus among others.
When journalists visited the villages, sounds of gunshots forced the media men on a fact-finding mission to leave the area immediately.
The villagers especially women and elderly men have vacated the villages while young men were seen armed with weapons.
In an interaction with the victims at Ukwuagba Market Square where they were taking refuge, Ogba Ngozi, who lost two of her husband’s brothers said “they have set all our houses ablaze, they have sacked us from our villages. The attack was carried out by herdsmen and Agila people, they attacked us this morning. They killed my husband’s two brothers the ones I know. Their names are Chidiebere and Emma Nwanjoku”.
Another resident, Ngozi Ebenyi Onwe said “before we woke up this morning, we started hearing heavy gunshots. The gunshots were coming so close and we started scampering for safety. As we were running for our dear lives, we heard that one of our neighbours has been killed.
“We ran out of the community since the gunshots were much. They shot many people and burnt many houses including my own. My sewing machine, motorcycle, and other properties were also burnt. Government should come to our aid. Since morning, I have not seen my children, I am looking for my children and I don’t know their whereabouts. I have not eaten since morning.
Christopher Elechi from Aguebele village on his part said “we were early this morning attacked by Agila people. They attacked this Aguebele village, Otaebe, and two other villages. They shot many people and burnt houses. Before we could notice what happened, they had killed many people and burnt houses and other valuable properties. We just carried one of those they killed and kept in his house, his name is Emmanuel Ali. The attackers came through Benue and we have been having problems with Benue people”.
Another villager, Joseph Elechi said “we woke up this morning to see killings of our people and no other people carried out the attack other than Benue people who have been having problems with us, they are the people that attacked us today. The attackers came from the place we are having a problem with them. They killed many people and burnt our houses”.
On her part, Aleke Victoria said “what happened in our community this morning is shocking and terrible. They have killed us, they have killed many of us. They beheaded many of us, cut many of us with machetes, and shot many with guns. We need help.
Eze Fedrick Onah also said “I started hearing gunshots and came out. I was told that it was our enemies that attacked us. They killed many people and burnt many houses. They burnt every house that is on the Umuogadu side. To me, I can’t tell what has happened until when our enemies will leave the villages, then we will go and know the level of the attacks. From my investigation, herdsmen and Agila people carried out these attacks and that is my understanding. If the government can help us and restore peace, it will be good because it is only peace that can make us relax in this community. As you see us now, we can’t sleep here.
“We are looking for where we will sleep or relax. I am hearing that five persons were killed but we are not sure because nobody has gone to the villages where the attack occurred to ascertain the figure, gunshots are still sounding there and nobody can go there now to know what happened. You can go there now, if you go, they will also kill you. So, we are waiting for them to leave the villages before we will know the number of people they killed”.
Samuel Okpo also spoke to our reporter thus “we don’t know the people that attacked our villages, we don’t know whether the attackers are herdsmen or Agila people. These people you are seeing in this Ukwuagba playground are refugees, we the elders don’t know what to do, they have killed many of our people, the attack is too much, it is terrible. They attacked Umugadu, Otebu, Ebele, Ndiegu Orie, Okwerike”.
The Traditional Ruler
The Traditional Ruler of Umuoguduakpu, HRH Godwin Ugadu Ogba said he was expected to be briefed on what happened. He however said that many people were beheaded with houses burnt.
“Early morning today, I got information that herdsmen were killing my people. I called the Chief Security Officer (CSO), Leonard Igwe to invite security men to the affected villages. After this, I heard that the military and other security agents were going to the villages. I am expecting that they will visit me before going, I have not seen them, maybe they will come. I am also waiting for information from my people living in the affected areas. So, I am still waiting for them. But the information I got is that herdsmen or Agila people were killing my people, burning their houses, destroying their properties in Otebu, Igideobu, Obodocha villages. Obodocha is where they reached and heard that security men were coming and they ran back according to the information given to me.
“The one many people said they have seen his dead bodies among those that were killed is one Emmanuel who is a native Doctor. So many people had injuries. They were cutting their heads, other parts of their bodies with knives and machetes according to the information I got. My house boy had gone there and came back and he has briefed me”, he stated.
Meanwhile, the Ebonyi state government has expressed dismay over the violent attack in Ngbo community.
The government said preliminary investigations indicated that the attack was not carried out by Fulani herdsmen as being speculated in different quarters.
A statement signed by Dr. Monday Uzor, Chief Press Secretary to the State Deputy Governor, Dr. Kelechi Igwe said “that the government of Ebonyi State is in touch with the leadership of the Fulani herdsmen (Miyetti Allah) who denied involvement in the attack.
“That the Leadership of the Fulani herdsmen has assured Government and people of Ebonyi State that they will not on any account perpetrate an attack on any party of Ebonyi State.
“That the recent attack on Ngbo is linked to the age-long crisis between the community and their Agila neighbours of Benue State.
“However, the Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State, His Excellency, Barr. Eric Kelechi Igwe, has swiftly responded by directing the military and police to move into the community to repel the attack and restore peace.
“The general public and in particular the people of Ngbo are requested to remain law-abiding and avoid reprisal as the government is working hard to restore normalcy to the affected community.
Agila People Deny Involvement
Meanwhile, the Executive Chairman of Ado Local Government Area of Benue State, Chief James Oche has refuted allegation of their involvement in Ngbo recent attack.
The chairman in a press statement expressed dismay about the allegation by the Ebonyi State government and insisted that they are peaceful people and have since accepted recommendations of Otse Otokpa /Cyril Obazi Agila/Ngbo Intercommunity Peace and Security Committee.
Listen to him: “Let it be known to all that the people of Agila have no hand in yesterday’s attack on Ngbo communities of Ebonyi State. I am dismayed by reports in the media credited to the Ebonyi State Government alleging that the people of Agila are behind the attack.
“The victims themselves have said the attack was from herders and I then wonder why the Ebonyi State Government is bent on accusing my people even in the face of rumours making the rounds that the attack was a reprisal for the alleged killing of the herders’ cattle.
“The people of Agila are peace-loving and have since embraced the recommendations of the OtseOtokpa/Cyril ObaziAgila/ Ngbo Intercommunity Peace and Security Committee formed by the governments of Ebonyi and Benue States and we have been cooperating with the National Boundary Commission on the planned delimitation and rebeaconing exercise scheduled to hold within the axis.
“Falsehood is not the solution and it will rather deteriorate the already tensed situation. I sympathize with the victims. May God help us all as we strive to restore the needed peace!