Issele-Azagba Under The Siege Of Killer Herdersmen
…Sends SOS To International Community.
Issele-Azagba, an agrarian community in Aniocha North LGA of Delta State, which shares boundaries with Okpanam, Atuma, Otulu and Ogwashi-Ukwu, has been under the siege of killer herdsmen since October 14, 2019.
The community has been invaded four times by criminals Fulani herders. The attacks on the community have become incessant recurring decimal.
This prompted the community to call a world press conference to tell their story and to draw the attention of well meaning Deltans and the international community to their plight.
The community used the press briefing to solicit for alternative sources of security following the increasing failures of government security agencies to protect them.
Briefing the press on Saturday 7th March, 2020, at the palace of the community’s monarch, HRM Obi Francis Jideuwa, two prominent sons of the community, who spoke on behalf of the traumatized citizens, the President General of Issele-Azagba Development Union, Mr. Benneth Uche Iloh and President General of Issele-Azagba Youth Association, Comrade Ogebgu Edozie respectively, gave chilling accounts of the incessant attacks on the community, in what they termed ‘Telling Our Story’.
According to the speakers, Issele-Azagba was first attacked in the early morning of Monday 14th October, 2019. The attack happened at Azagba Mixed Secondary School, where two persons, a teacher and a 19 year old boy were shot dead and five other teachers including the principal of the school abducted into the bush by the criminal Fulani herders.
They said it was a terrible experience, which prompted the community to mobilize its able bodied young men into the bush to rescue the abducted teachers including some of the students who scampered into the bush at different directions.
They said while they were yet to recover from that painful experience, another attack took place on the 6th of February, 2020, where another two persons were shot dead, including one Engr. Sebastian Kadiri.
In this particular attack, a 13 year old girl was abducted while one Peter was left with gun shot wounds. Ransom was later paid to have the girl released after days.
Again, while the community is still recovering and putting necessary security measures in place, the third attack came on 23rd of February, 2020, resulting in the death of a male resident, his wife abducted and his daughter sustained gun shot injuries. The child is still recuperating in the hospital. It was later learnt that the family paid ransom to have the deceased’s wife released.
The fourth mayhem unleashed by the vampire herdsmen took place at the High Hope Hotel Issele-Azagba, at which two persons were gunned down and five others, both staff and customers of the hotel were kidnapped into the bush.
It was revealed that the families of the victims paid heavy ransom for the release of the victims.
According to the community, “We are under serious siege by these killer Fulani herdsmen. What is most painful is that the Nigerian government has refused to intervene. We have been crying for help, without any meaningful help from the government.
We need protection, we are peace loving community and do not treat our visitors badly.
“We are sending a strong message to the government that if these attacks continued, we might resort to self help. We have condoned these people for too long, allowing them to graze our land freely and without molestation.
Why are they killing us in our own land?
“We want to also reiterate that we don’t hate our visitors, we have been having cordial relationship with the non indigenes amongst us.
“However, we want to state categorically, that we will do everything to resist crime and criminality in our land, especially coming from the mindless criminal Fulani herders.
Our land abhors shedding of blood; but if they continued killing us, we may loss our patience. This is why we are calling on government and the international community to intervene and bring these mindless killings in our land to a full stop”, the perpetrators to book.’
The community equally used the occasion to call on well meaning individuals from Aniocha North to assist them to equip the community’s vigilance group to be able to contend with the rampaging killer herdsmen.
They called on the likes of Tony Elumelu, Prince Ned Nwoko, Chief Ibe Kachikwu, Mr. Gabriel Ogbechie, Major General Lawrence Fejokwu and others to assist the community with the needed logistics to structure its community policing to effectively function with other security agencies to protect the people against the murderous menace of the Fulani herdsmen.
The community appreciated the likes of the Aniocha North Council, the Honourable Commissioner for Youth Development, Comrade Ifeanyi Michael Egwunyenga, Hon. Engr. Emeka Nwaobi and Mr. Dumebi Kachikwu for all their assistance and support to the community at different levels since the invasions began to happen.
The community appealed to Delta State Government to as a matter of urgency under the prevailing insecurity in Issele-Azagba, to fix the community main road leading to Otulu and also fence the Azagba Mixed Secondary School.
They said the road had always aided the killer herders to escape immediately after every attack, while the community school had become a shadow of itself with academic activities at zero level.
In a nutshell, they called on the media to help the community to vigorously propagate the ‘Save Our Soul’ message to the world. “We want to rely on your Watchdog role; because we don’t know who or where to turn to again for help. There is palpable fear in the community and anxiety everywhere. Our children no longer go to school and our parents are now afraid to go to their farms because the Fulani hersmen have taken over our forest. Though presently about 15 police men have been sent to the community to mount surveillance and patrol the town. But we need the press to help us keep their eagle eyes steady on Issele-Azagba and raise alarm when anything heinous is noticed,” they appealed.