By O’star Eze & Nosa Akenzua

Suspected herdsmen operating in Ovre Abraka community in Delta state have allegedly killed five persons suspected to be cultists in the area at the weekend.

Orient Daily gathered that the suspected cultists allegedly ambushed herdsmen in the Ovre Abraka community bush shortly after their ‘convocation ceremony’ in the bush and on their way to their various homes. They were said to have clashed with the herdsmen who overpowered them with their sophisticated guns and allegedly shot them dead on the spot.

The police public relations officer in the state, Andrew Aniamaka, who confirmed the incident, said the police were investigating the killing. “The police are investigating the incident and no arrest had been made, the victims are suspected cultists. They belong to Vickings and they wanted to attack the suspected Fulani herdsmen as they came out of the bush where they had gone for their cult meeting. Unfortunately, the herdsmen allegedly opened fire on them,” Aniamaka said.

A community leader, Chief Benjamin Oghenevo who spoke to newsmen in the area recalled: “It was at about 3:30am at night when we heard repeated gunshots inside the bush and in the morning we wanted to go there but declined for fear of being attacked because Fulani herdsmen live in the area, however we made attempt and found it was true and we ran away. The police should move into the bush to see things themselves. The Fulani herdsmen are still operating in our community”.

Meanwhile, Anambra state chairman of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), and a political aspirant in Anambra West, Matthias Ameke, has raised alarm over activities of cattle and their herders in the area. Ameke alleged that Anambra West, an agrarian zone is at the risk of a famine come 2019 given an ongoing plundering of their farms by herdsmen.

The former Anambra State chairman of Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) said that many herdsmen and their cattle roaming the area in search of food were plundering crops in farms, leaving the farmers destitute and unable to repay the loans they got from cooperative societies and banks.

He said that the farmers were in debt and unable to take care of their families given that their farms were being destroyed by activities of cattle on feeding spree on the crops in the farms.

“These Fulani herdsmen have taken over our farms and our people in Anambra West who are predominantly farmers are facing a food crisis period which may degenerate into full blown famine come next season,” he said.

He however said that none of the women had been molested and that the state government had tried to intervene in the matter but without success.

Reacting to the claim, the commissioner of police, Anambra state, Mr Garba Baba Umar, said that the police had started intervening in the matter. Umar said that the police was already checking the rate of influx of Fulani people in the state and had subjected the herdsmen to signing an undertaking before being allowed to operate in Anambra state which he said would make the herdsmen feel more responsible in their interaction with natives.

He added that his command had also started holding aerial surveillance of the zone to monitor the activities of the herdsmen. He enjoined members of the public to lodge formal complaints at the police stations whenever there were such altercations to enable police intervene to restore civil peace.