The Delta State government, Nigeria Police and bereaved communities in Delta State are currently trading words over the number of folks hacked to death by suspected Fulani herdsmen last week at Uhweru Kingdom in Ughelli North Local Government Area of the state.
While the Delta State Police Command has continued to insist the number of deaths hardly exceeded one, the state government and bereaved communities reeled out different number of deaths with claims that some buried victims had been exhumed for proofs.
President-General of Uwheru Kingdom, Chief Cassidy Akpodafe, alleged that no fewer than 11 persons from the communities were akilled by the killer-herdsmen who launched attacks on the area between Thursday and Friday nights last week.
About three corpses, which had been earlier interred by members of the communities, were reportedly exhumed on Sunday evening.
Recall that the Commissioner of Police, Mr Hafiz Inuwa, had earlier claimed that only one person was rescued with bullet wounds by the search security team and was receiving attention at the Central Hospital, Ughelli, insinuating an attempt to create tension in the state.
He has also denied corpses of some victims were exhumed on Sunday, saying “I don’t know about that and even if some dead bodies were brought, it’s subject to investigation. We’ll find out.
Trashing the claims of the police commissioner, the Uwheru President-General accused the police of being economical with the truth as regards the killings.
“What the police are saying is not true. Yesterday (Sunday) three corpses were taken to the mortuary.
“As we speak, seven persons are dead inside the bush and we have not recovered their dead bodies.
“The three bodies taken to the mortuary were the ones we exhumed. The bodies were exhumed on Sunday evening after the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege visited the community”
“Almost 17 persons have been rushed to hospital for medical treatment. If you go to the Central Hospital Ughelli you will see them. The police should not cook a report that is not correct,” he insisted.
Akpodafe, who further disclosed that no fewer than 86 lives had been lost to herdsmen attacks in the kingdom in the last 12 years, appealed to the state and Federal Government to order the herdsmen to vacate their occupied land so that they could return to their farms.
On his part, the State Commissioner for Higher Education and leader in the kingdom, Prof. Patrick Muoboghare, has alleged that the military forced people of the community to exhume some of the corpses on Sunday.
He described the claims of the state police commissioner that no corpse has been recovered as a blatant lie.
“That is a lie from the pit of hell. I have been in the village Saturday and Sunday. I was there at Agadama, the epicentre with the police, soldiers and all.
“Yes, it’s true the killing started on Thursday night and on Friday night it repeated itself.
“On Saturday, the boys couldn’t bear it anymore because their people were killed and some burnt beyond recognition…
“On that Saturday when the boys were angry, they barricaded the road. That’s when the herdsmen knew that they had to call their brothers who are soldiers and they came shooting.
“They shot one boy and they took him to Uwheru mean town for treatment but he died. In anger, the people of the community took the corpse to the palace of the Odion R’ode (monarch). The Odion R’Ode is still alive. And the soldiers and the police are claiming nobody died?
“Secondly, the soldiers now insisted that since their soldiers were injured we must produce the corpses of those we claimed were dead.
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“We told them that herdsmen have taken over the place and we cannot enter. They said they will lead and the saw one boy who was shot since on Friday still breathing.
“They took him to the hospital. He said he was going to farm when he was attacked and other were killed and they (herdsmen) took the bodies away.
“The one that was burnt beyond recognition, the family buried him. The Fulani herdsmen are there in the bush with the bodies of our people.
“They confronted the herdsmen and they said they will not release the bodies. And as I speak to you, they didn’t release the dead bodies as on Sunday,” the commissioner narrated.
Meanwhile, the President of Urhobo Progress Union (UPU), Youth Wing Worldwide, Comrade Efemena Kelly Umukoro, on Monday, decried the incessant killings in Urhobo communities.
While condemning the action in its entirety, he said that there was no tribe that has monopoly of violence in the country.
The UPU Youth President, who expressed deep concerns when he visited Agadama, the scene of the incident, said Urhobo youths could no longer fold their hands and allow some unscrupulous elements in the name of herdsmen to be killing, burning their brothers and raping their mothers and sisters for no just course in their own their farmlands.
While calling on the Fulani herdsmen to steer clear of their farmlands, Umukoro warned that the Urhobo youths will not hesitate to resolve to self-help if the nefarious attitude by the herdsmen continues.
Umukoro, who spoke to newsmen at the community, called on the Federal Government to look into this issue of Fulani herdsmen killings, pointing out that it was the same way that Boko Haram started before they became a menace.
He admonished the FG to stop playing politics with the herdsmen menace, warning that if the federal government can no longer secure lives and property of Urhobos, Urhobo youths have the capacity to defend her people.