By Nick Chibunna
Hope of a bumper harvest in this farming season in a food producing community of Obodo, Amaimo, Ikeduru Local Government Area of Imo State has been dashed following incessant invasion of their farmlands by herdsmen.
The second time in a week, Christian Voice learnt, the herders, who were said to be armed, led their cattle into the farms where corn, cassava, vegetables and other crops worth millions of naira were planted.
A source told Christian Voice that tension has mounted in the community as the youths were spoiling for war on noticing that the herds had destroyed crops worth millions of naira in the farms.
Our reporter who visited the scene saw hoofprints of the cattle as well as the footprints of their herders that trampled upon the crops and other economic trees.
Conducting our reporter round the destroyed farm lands, a community leader and a retired civil servant, Ezinna Evans Anyanwu, said that more than six families cultivated the large expanse of land, adding that most of the farming was done through hired-labour costing thousands of naira.
Almost shedding tears, elder Anyanwu said: “this is the only place I and my family farmed this year.” He described the activities of the herdsmen as a threat to national peace and pleaded with those in the authority to do something now before the situation gets out of hand.
On why the community did not stop the invaders, Ezinna Evans said that they came with large herds of cattle and armed with dangerous weapons, adding that the community was taken unawares in the wee hours of the day.
He, however, said that elders in the community had met over the issue and had officially reported the matter to the traditional ruler of the community, Eze Victor Achionye, for necessary actions, adding that, “we are still waiting for the Eze’s response”.
Another community leader who spoke to Christian Voice was Chief Sir Godwin Maduwuba who lamented that people could destroy other people’s means of livelihood in the name of cattle grazing. Had the community reacted negatively, it would have resulted in a disaster of an inestimable magnitude, he said.
Also speaking to Christian Voice, a security man attached to a building behind the destroyed farmland. Mr. Joachim Ugoji said that he noticed strange movements in the odd hours of the day and flashed his torch light of the direction to find out what was the matter.
According to him, the high beam that came from the invaders dimmed his torch light, and he feared that he might be attacked since they were more in number and well armed.
On why he did not raise alarm, he said they covered the whole of the area and were ready to repel any interference.
When Christian Voice called at the traditional ruler of the community, Eze Victor Achionye, the royal father described the development as a dangerous omen, adding that consultation was going on among relevant stakeholders, including the police authorities, for necessary action.
He, however, pleaded with his people to remain calm and never to take the laws into their hands as he would do everything humanly possible to make sure that peace reigns, and the reoccurrence of the ugly episode averted.
All the people who spoke to Christian Voice expressed their surprise at the incidence and said that, “this is how the massacre at the Nibo Autonomous Community in Ebonyi state started”.
By Nick Chibunna