ENUGU – Residents of Amoji, Nenwe community in Aninri Local Government Area of Enugu State has expressed serious anger, bitterness and dissatisfaction over the recent arrest of some members of their community by operatives of Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, FSARS, of the Nigeria Police Force for merely attempting to drive away troublesome Fulani herdsmen from their community.
According to reliable reports gathered by our Correspondent who visited the scene, on July 29, 2018, some Fulani herders, along with their cattle and numbering up to ten, entered the community and settled there without identifying with the hosts/villagers.
Fearing that the presence of the strange, uninvited Fulani guests spelt an impending doom and threat to lives and properties of the villagers, the youths of the community quickly mobilised and attempted to drive away the herders whose cows had already begun destroying crops and farm produce in their farmlands.
However, in a revolt, the herdsmen who resisted various pleas to vacate the community in peace, resorted to violence, brandishing dangerous weapons which forced the youths of the community to retreat as some ran into a nearby hotel for safety
As the dust raised by the rampaging herdsmen is yet to settle, they colluded and went to report the matter to some FSARS agents who stormed the community with the herders and arrested 18 villagers.
Among those arrested were Mr. Solomon Nwonye, the manager of Unity Hotel and Suites, Nenwe. Nwonye was arrested along with two staffs of the hotel and one other whom were pointed out to the FSARS operatives by the herders, while 14 other members of the community are now cooling off at their station in 9th-mile axis of the state.
But at the time of filing this report, the 14 detained villagers has been granted bail with over N70,000 leaving behind only Nwoye, two members of his staff, and one other accused individual.
It was further gathered that as a condition for his release, Nwonye was asked to pay the sum of N500,000 alleged by the Fulani herdsmen to have been stolen from them at the time an altercation broke out between them and youths of the community on 30th July 2018.
“They bailed some yesterday but the main people the Fulani herdsmen accused being the manager of the hotel with his two workers which those Fulani said that those guys that came to attack them ran inside the hotel are still there at Federal SARS station,” our source who pleaded anonymity revealed.
“Each person was bailed with more than seventy thousand naira. The Fulani are claiming that they had and lost half a million naira that was with them when the issue started.
“So, they said that the hotel manager should provide the money. They held him, they are still beating him to pulp there. The family of the manager is still running around to provide the money so they can come back and bail him.
“The manager was well beaten by the FSARS because the Aboki (Fulani herdsmen) said that those guys ran inside his hotel,” our source added.
It’s illegal – Villagers laments, calls for justice
Meanwhile, the inhabitants of Nenwe community has decried against what they described as illegal, high-handedness and height of unprofessionalism exhibited by operatives of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad whom they accused of prompting to action without carrying out a proper investigation in the matter.
Speaking to our correspondent on Wednesday, the aggrieved members of the community who yearned for justice to prevail said their biased action in wading into the matter without getting a first hand information of what actually transpired rendered credence to the general notion that federal security agencies are indeed colluding and assisting murderous killer herdsmen to perpetrate crimes in the society.
The villagers who were gripped by fear and anxiety over possible herdsmen attack, however, resolved that they won’t fold their arms and watch killer herdsmen invade their communities to perpetrate heinous crimes without resistance or self-defense, even as they noted that the Enugu State Police Command Headquarters are unaware of what transpired in the community
“The Federal SARS agents has no clear picture of what happened in our community on that day but they quickly came to assist those Fulani herdsmen who have been terrorising our farmlands and destroying our crops. That is the issue we always have with them.
“Why would they arrest innocent citizens who are merely defending themselves while at the other hand, protecting and giving succour to terrorist herdsmen who are armed with various lethal weapons? That is very illegal, biased and unprofessional for an acclaimed security officer to do.
“First of all, we searched for our arrested people in all the Enugu state police station and posts, not knowing that they (FSARS) didn’t even inform the State police commissioner before the arrest. We later managed to see them at FSARS office at 9th mile. This is again, an illegal thing to do and we are saying that justice should be served.
“These cattle rearers they are protecting, didn’t they know how they have been killing, maiming and terrorising citizens of this country? They are living there (pointing to a bush) in Nenwe. We also know they might attack us anytime soon because I believe that the Fulanis will still come after issues to know what we will do,” a village elder cum leader who spoke on condition of anonymity stated.