TWO leaders of the Ifite-Ogwari community in Ayamelun Local Government Area of Anambra State have been arrested by the police following the recent killing of four Fulani cattle herdsmen and 108 cows in the town.
Two weeks ago, the herdsmen were apparently murdered in the town and the community leaders were invited for a meeting with Governor Willie Obiano, after which they were arrested. These arrested leaders include Chief Nwaora Ikeozalla, the deputy president-general and Chief Michael Akamala, the chief security officer of Ifite-Ogwari, respectively, who both remain in detention.
According to reports by Igbo Mandate Congress (IMC), the traditional ruler of the town, His Royal Majesty Dr AI Ofuebe was almost arrested with the other elders at the scene of the meeting with Governor Obiano. A week after their detention, the leader of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (Macban) in the southeast, Alhaji Gidado Siddiki alleged that youths of Ifite-Ogwari killed four herders and 108 cows between December 20 and January 27, 2020.
IMC leaders have interacted with stakeholders in the community, the state government, the police and members of the Fulani community over recent weeks, in a bid to secure the release of the two leaders. Apparently the men are being detained at CID headquarters in Awka, the Anambra State capital and are their continued incarceration is creating tension in Ifite-Ogwari.
An IMC spokesman said: “The community leaders of Ifite-Ogwari are being detained at the insistence of leaders of Miyetti Allah in the southeast. They justified their two-week incarceration on the mantra that they are still investigating and looking for the killers of the herdsmen and the 108 cows.”
Michael Chukwuemeka, the community’s legal adviser has apparently been denied proper access to the detained elders. Anambra State government officials told the IMC, however, that the governor recently asked the police commissioner to release the elders but the police declined, insisting that only order from Abuja can effect their release.
IMC leaders were told by the Ifite-Ogwari elders that they were living in peace with the Fulani’s till a murderous and rapist group entered their midst. These murderous groups specialise in destroying people’s farms and brandishing dangerous weapons when challenged by the displaced farmers.
Subsequently, the murderous herders graduated to raping young girls in their farms to the point that young girls do not go to farms again. They then descended on married women who refused to be chased away from farms and raped them repeatedly.
Men then started escorting their women to farms and the herders graduated into raping married women in the presence of their husband. According to the IMC, the elders and youth of Ifite-Ogwari made repeated efforts to get the attention of the state government but they were repeatedly told to forgive their enemies for the sake of national unity.
They claimed that at no point between December and January, did the youth mobilise against the Fulani, insisting that if such had happened, probably hundreds would have died. According to the IMV, if anybody ever died, as claimed by Miyetti Allah, it could be as a result of a private clash between an infuriated farmer and a rapist herdsman and the community was not involved in it.
The IMC spokesman added: “These claims by Miyetti Allah leaders that they killed four herders are a subterfuge to attack the community. Whether Willie Obiano defends them or not, the people will not allow rapists to invade their farmlands anymore and will defend the community against any attack.
“Governor Obiano is insisting that the community pays N38m being compensation for alleged 108 cows and that the community elders have raised some million from communal taxation. Igbo Mandate Congress deems Miyetti Allah actions in Anambra State as triggers for disintegration of Nigeria.
“While IMC has been working in concert with Igbo elites and professionals to stem the secessionist tide in the southeast since 2014, with great success, including severally calling some youth leaders to order, the Miyetti Allah counterparts are encouraging rapists and murderers in their midst. Igbo Mandate Congress advises Governor Obiano to stop taxing the Ifite Ogwari community and pay from state coffers the N38m Miyetti Allah demanded for the allegedly killed 108 cows.
“Governor Obiano should also pay N18m for the destroyed farmlands and N18m for rehabilitation of families whose daughters and mothers have been senselessly raped since the state failed to protect the community after repeated alarms. The Nigerian police should order the release of the community elders detained and pay them compensation for illegal two weeks detention.
“The youth of Ifite Ogwari should suspend any planned reaction and allow a solution to be worked out within the next few days by concerned Igbo leaders. Igbo Mandate Congress is a major stakeholder in Anambra State and expects those concerned to act in the interest of peace.”