A Magistrates’ Court in Afara, Umuahia South LGA of Abia State has remanded 76 farmers in prison custody after a clash with herdsmen.
The farmers, all natives of Ugwuneshi in Awgu LGA of Enugu State, were at the weekend arraigned in the court and later remanded at the federal prison in Afara.
It was gathered that they were arrested with some youths by men in military uniform and taken to Umuahia where they were divided into three groups and arraigned.
The traditional ruler of Ugwuneshi, Igwe Godwin Nwobi, said the incident, which happened last Thursday, was the high point of the menace of herdsmen in his community.
He said since the herdsmen settled in the community on their own they had been destroying crops with their cattle over the years. According to him, the people of Ugwunesi had been enduring the impunity as they continued to ravage crops, adding that neither security agencies nor the government did anything to call the herders to order.
After several warnings and pleadings, he said youths of the community decided to embark upon protest. Things came to a head when information filtered into the community that the herdsmen had abducted two women from a farm.
“When we got the information, the youths and men were gathering in our village square to discuss the matter and plan a rescue mission when suddenly they were surrounded by men in military uniform who arrested 76 of them and carried them away in trucks,” he said.
The Enugu State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Nwodibo Ekechukwu, said police in the state had made substantial progress in investigating clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers.
He said the command was partnering with the government, traditional rulers, leaders of the farmers, herdsmen and all stakeholders to prevent any major problem.