An Uwheru traditional chief and Delta State Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof Patrick Muoboghare, says violent Fulani herdsmen could have been easily dealt with but for the protection they receive from security forces.
He stated this while reacting to the exhumation of eight bodies allegedly slain by herdsmen in the kingdom located in Ughelli North LGA of Delta State.
The Herald had reported how Ijaw National Leader, Chief Edwin Clark lamented the killings.
In an interview with Sunday Vanguard, Muoboghare alleged that Fulani herdsmen were trying to take over land in Uwheru, hence the resort to violence to cower the people into silence.
He urged the government to prevail on the security forces to stop supporting the herdsmen’s acts of terror in the community.
“The Uwheru people believe that these Fulani herdsmen would not be this daring if they do not have a cover,” the commissioner stated.
Explaining his reason for the statement, the traditional chief explained, “When the place was chaotic after the soldiers from Bomadi retreated to reinforce, the Agbara-Otor military team came and said there was no reason for the protest by the youths, saying nobody died.
“They insisted that unless they see the dead bodies, they were going to bring down the community. They appealed to me to talk to the youths to go for the dead bodies if any.
“The soldiers now took the youths into the forest where they met the Fulani herdsmen. They (soldiers) told the herdsmen saying, ‘give us the dead bodies’ and the herdsmen said they would not release them.
“At that point, they dared the soldiers and the soldiers made a hasty retreat. The next day, they went back and saw some corpses including the ones burnt beyond recognition by the herdsmen.
“If not that the governor prevailed on the GOC, and the matter became known, they were ready to bring down the community.”
Muoboghare added, “On the issue of statements made by the military that the herdsmen have left, on that Saturday when they visited and wanted to retrieve the corpses, the team made up of policemen and soldiers and some natives came face to face with the armed herdsmen who dared them not to move an inch further and of course, they couldn’t move an inch further.
“The Uwheru people believe that these Fulani herdsmen would not be this daring if they do not have a cover.”
Explaining measures that have been taken to limit Fulani herdsmen’s influence on the area, he stated,
“The people of the kingdom have met and some resolutions have been reached to stop herdsmen killings in Uwheru kingdom.
“First, the ban on the sale, purchase, and consumption of cow meat in the entire Uwheru kingdom has taken effect. It includes beef for marriages and burials. In fact, cow meat cannot be consumed anymore in the kingdom. It has become a taboo in the kingdom already.
“Second, all the children of the victims killed during the recent attack would be on a scholarship to be sponsored by the community from primary to university level.
“The community would have the mandate to bury them, not their respective families and they would be buried in a central place making it a communal responsibility.
“We also resolved that all herdsmen should vacate the communities in the kingdom unconditionally and the government should restrain security agents and agencies from aiding the herdsmen.
“We also appeal to Delta State government to pass the anti-grazing bill into law. We would continue to resist the takeover of our farmland and farmstead by killer herdsmen.”