On Saturday evening, a Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Aniako Celestine, presiding over St. Joseph Catholic Church, Ukana, Udi Local Government Area, was kidnapped by suspected Fulani herdsmen on his way from his home town, Ezeagu, Enugu State. The herdsmen, through Rev. Celestine’s mobile phone, are demanding a ransom of N10 million.
Just last week in Ugwuleshi, Awgu Local Government Area of the state, herdsmen destroyed farmland and livestock worth millions of Naira and also detained 76 members of the community, who were later granted bail by Umuahia Magistrate’s Court last Friday, following the intervention of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. These herdsmen were also said to have killed two sisters in Abbi, Uzo Uwani Local Government Area last month after burning 17 houses.
After the release of 76 farmers from Ugwuleshi autonomous community in Enugu State by Magistrate Court’s in Umuahia, the traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Godwin Nwobi and some other leaders from the area, commended the efforts of Governor Ugwuanyi in making sure the farmers were granted bail.
Igwe Nwobi and other political stakeholders, appealed to the Federal Government to find a lasting solution to the challenges encountered between the nomadic Fulani/Hausa herdsmen and the indigenous farmers in their community over the grazing of cattle on farmlands, to avoid further clashes.
However, the State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Ebere Amaraizu, confirmed the abduction of Rev. Celestine, saying the command was on their trail. Reacting to the abduction, the leader of the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, Uchenna Madu has warned soldiers to stop molesting and intimidating igbo people while trying to protect Fulani herdsmen who use their cattle to destroy farmlands and crops.
Meanwhile, the National Director of Information for the group, Mr. Samuel Edeson, alleged that the activities of the herdsmen were part of the alleged grand design to Islamise Nigeria. He also concurred to Uchenna’s statement, saying the Nigerian Army should stop intimidating and killing the people of Biafra in the guise of protecting the Fulani herdsmen and their cattle. He advised the South-East governors to encourage community-based vigilante groups for proper and well-coordinated security of lives, properties and farmlands.
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