Urhobo leaders deplore herders’ attacks on Uwheru community
• Accuse attackers of nursing hidden, sinister agenda
The Urhobo Renaissance Society (URS) has condemned the dastardly and unprovoked attacks last week on innocent Uwheru people in Ughelli North Local of Delta State where nine persons were reported dead and several others injured.
In a statement signed its president and secretary, Professor Hope Eghagha and John Meriase Uwa, the leaders said it was time President Muhammadu Buhari called the “national irritants, insensate scoundrels, and criminal vermin of the lowest order” to conduct themselves in a civilised manner.
The statement read in part: “We received with deep indignation, the barbaric and inhuman killing of nine Urhobo sons and daughters with the tenth battling for life, coupled with the destruction of properties which include farmlands and other means of economic livelihood in three communities of Uwheru Kingdom in Ughelli North Local Government Area of the Central Senatorial District of Delta State. The savage attacks were carried out by the now notorious killer herdsmen, who have constituted themselves into national irritants, insensate scoundrels, and criminal vermin of the lowest order.
“According to reports, these killer herdsmen, notorious for wanton destruction of everything good and orderly, last Thursday invaded the communities of Avwon, Agadama and Ohoror, and launched an unprovoked attack. They were allegedly aided by men in military uniforms and shot sporadically at everything that moves like a human being, causing huge confusion and pandemonium in otherwise peaceful and law-abiding communities. While those able and agile scampered for safety, defenceless women, children and the aged, were targeted and mowed down by the rampaging killers who also destroyed the economic infrastructure of the fleeing victims.”
The stakeholders noted with dismay that “the remorseless killer herdsmen and their backers in high places have triggered and are systematically executing a war of attrition against their peace-loving hosts considering the fact that all the itinerant herders seem to focus and embark upon are activities that are clearly targeted at dispossessing the aboriginal inhabitants of their God-given land.”
They went on; “URS wishes to state unequivocally, that the Urhobo nation will not under any circumstances yield an inch of their God-given land to people, who are proving by the day to be dangerous guests and are clearly turning out to be an army of occupation in words, thought and deed.”
The group further “invites all well-meaning Nigerians to join it in interrogating these killer herdsmen: Why are they so averse to modernisation and global best practices in almost all aspects of life but rather insist on the crude, outdated and cave era ways of animal husbandry? Which modern society encourages herding ruminant animals across acres, kilometres and whole communities, allowing the animals not only to graze but also destroy, despoil and dirty, otherwise clean and attractive vegetation? Why are these killer herdsmen so opposed to ranching? The answers can only point to one thing – hidden and sinister agenda.”
It therefore called on President Buhari to ensure that the security of lives and property of the people, irrespective of their ethnic group, and geo-political zone or political affiliation or religious inclination are indeed guaranteed and protected in corporate Nigeria.
The non-profit making body further averred: “Importantly, URS calls for a thorough investigation into the allegation of the collusion of armed soldiers and other security agencies in the invasion and killing of innocent Urhobo sons and daughters in cold blood. While herders are securing their daily bread, they should not seek to destroy the source of livelihood of others.”
“URS also calls on Delta State Governor, Mr. Ifeanyi Okowa and Delta State House of Assembly to take concrete and verifiable steps to end the menace of the killer herdsmen through proper and adequate legislation. Some other states have such laws that regulate the activities of herdsmen. Ekiti, Benue and lately Oyo are examples. We say enough of platitudes. Life is too sacred to be treated as if it is machinery with spare parts that can easily be replaced.
The officials added: “ URS would like to put everyone on notice that the law of self-preservation and right to life are natural and inherent in all. If security personnel fail in their duty, the people would take all constitutional and legitimate steps to ensure their safety and right to life.
“We sympathise with our kith and kin who have lost their loved ones for no other reason than that they were in their God-given and constitution-protected homeland. Lastly, URS calls on all traditional rulers in Urhoboland, Presidents-General of different communities to as a matter of urgency move to check the activities of those who lease land to or sell same to killer herdsmen in Urhoboland to be wary of arming our common enemies. The herdsmen of today are not like those of yesterday. These ones clearly have an agenda to dispossess the people of their land. It will never happen.”
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