The crisis brewing between farmers and Fulani herdsmen over a period of time, on Thursday erupted into violence in Epogi, a riverine community in Mokwa Local Government area of Niger State, killing 21 persons.
The herdsmen, it was reported, stormed the village mosque with guns at dawn and gruesomely murdered the worshippers during their early morning prayers.
The people of Epogi, who are mainly into fishing, swerved into dry season fishing due to dwindling availability of fishes, and reached an understanding with their neighbours, the Fulani herdsmen that came to settle in the area, as to allow them (farmers) harvest their crops, majorly rice, before moving their animals to graze on the land.
But it was said that the herdsmen most times were impatient and usually end up releasing their cattle to graze on the farmlands, destroying the crops.
The farmers, it was gathered, were not happy with the situation. This led to tension between the two sides and the subsequent attacks that led to loss of lives.
The friction continued, up until, last Saturday morning when the herdsmen unleashed terror on the community that resulted in the death of 20 villagers and a few others in the adjourning communities.
Reacting on the issue, a communiyy leader in the troubled Epogi village, Alhaji Abubakar Taoheed Tahir, attributed the various violence that rocked various parts of the country between farmers and Fulani cattle rearers to the advent of dry season farming.
He said it is largely responsible for the incessant herdmen/ farmers clashes currently ravaging the country.
Tahir during an on-the-spot assessment of the extent of damage of the Fulani invasion of the village told journalists that the whole problem started, when the fishermen went into dry season farming to make ends meet as it was becoming difficult, depending on the fish trade for their livelihood.
According to him, ” Our community is predominantly a fishing one but, when it was becoming hard to make ends meet with fishing, our people decided to take advantage of the dry season farming.
Unfortunately, the Fulani people who had stayed in the community were predominantly cattle rearers. This led to the villagers demanding that the Fulani should allow the them harvest their rice and other farm produce before taking the animals out for grazing.”
He explained that the Fulani unfortunately, were always impatient to keep to the agreement as they allowed their animals to destroy the crops of the local people.
The state Police Commissioner, Zubairu Muazu, speaking to newsmen, decried the killings, describing it as inhuman, even as he assured that all the perpetrators of the heinous crime would be arrested and brought to book.
He urged the local people to come forward and volunteer information capable of leading to the arrest of the criminals.
Fresh Trouble Brews At Delta APC Over Zoning
…as group insists on Anioma governorship
Nosa Akenzua, Asaba
Fresh crisis of confidence in the zoning “arrangement” is currently brewing at the Delta State chapter of the All Progressives Congress as a group known as “Delta North APC Caucus” has insisted on Anioma Governorship candidate come 2019.
In a release issued and signed by one Chief Emmanuel Ebeka, Leader of the Caucus, a copy made available to our reporter, accused the State Chairman of the party, Prophet Jones Erue of working against the party’s resolution of the Delta North to produce the party’s candidate come 2019 governorship election in the state.
The statement explained that a meeting of the Delta North Leadership Caucus was held on Saturday March 4, 2017 at the instance of the Honourable Minister of State Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachiukwu, with notable chieftains of the party in attendance, where it was resolved that the Governorship candidate of the party must come from Delta North.
Part of the statement reads: “The state caucus meeting, it should be recalled came prior to the peace party held in Abuja by the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun in which others were also present, so the Dr. Kachiukwu party was convened as a follow up peace and reconciliation meeting to distill the rapport of the Abuja peace accord” adding that it is therefore regrettable that the state chairman, Prophet Erue who was present in person at both meeting could deliberately set up Machinations to undo the peace accord reached, and had allegedly been seeking to undermine the relations reached by the National and State Leadership of the party.
The statement further disclosed “it is no longer news that Prophets Jones Erue is working with certain cabal in Delta Central with vested interest to contest the governorship position in 2019 and there scuttle the very bright chances of the APC taking over the reins of power in Delta State in 2019”.
But at a media conference yesterday held in Asaba, the party chieftain, Chief Emmanuel Nduka Ogwuda, told journalists that the plots to ensure Delta North is schemed out of the 2019 governorship race, would be tantamount to a great loss to the party, disclosing that is has become necessary as new political platforms and agitations have emerged, seeking to alter political understanding established by the leaders of the party to foster peaceful co-existence and ethnic harmony in the state.
According to him, “we have taken notice of ominous plots by some desperate politicians to scuttle the political zoning arrangement for the governorship position established since 1999 when the current democratic dispensation took off” warning that the governorship is non-negotiable and urged the party to work in the popular direction to deliver a candidate of the party (APC) from Anioma extraction.
His words: “This ill-conceived agenda will strangle the rapidly booming popularity of the APC in the state and eventually kill the party as a widely accepted alternative platform in Delta State” and called on the party leaders to be wary of mercantile politicians in the party who are currently fanning the embers of disunity, division and discord.
In a swift reaction, the state party chairman, Prophet Jones Erue denied all allegations against him, saying that he cannot work against the interest of the party.