Gunmen on Monday launched fresh onslaughts on Ebonyi State by sacking three villages in Ohaukwu Local Area.
Many persons, including a native doctor whose name was given as Emmanuel, were killed in the attacks that occurred hours after the Southeast governors on Sunday unveiled Ebube Agu, a security outfit, to battle insecurity in the zone. Governor Dave Umahi heads the Southeast Governors’ Forum.
Scores were also said to have been injured while many houses and properties were razed by the attackers whose identities became a matter of disagreement between the villagers and the state government.
While some villagers and the government blamed the attacks on the people of Agila in Ado LGA of Benue State, other villagers said they were herders.
The Agila and Ngbo people in Ohaukwu LGA have been embroiled in a decade-long boundary dispute, which has claimed many lives on both sides.
About two weeks ago, 25 people were killed in simultaneous attacks by suspected herdsmen on four villages in Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
Over 25 persons have so far been killed in the intra-communal clash in Effium community, Ohaukwu LGA which began January 22.
The Nation had reported last week how herdsmen shot sporadically in Ameta- Oziza, a community in Afikpo North LGA.
Some communities in Ikwo, Izzi, and Ebonyi LGAs also last week witnessed similar shootings by suspected herdsmen.
Monday attacks took place in Ebele Umuogoro-Akpu Mgbo villages in Ohaukwu LGA. Many of the villagers were as of last night taking refuge in neighbouring communities
Villagers narrate ordeal, blame herders, Benue neighbours
One of the victims of the attacks, who gave her name as Ngozi Ebenyi, told The Nation that the attackers arrived Ebele village shooting sporadically.
She said: “Before we woke up this (Monday) morning, we started hearing heavy gunshots. The gunshots were coming so close and we started scampering for safety. As we were running for our lives, we heard that one of our neighbours had been killed.
“They burnt my sewing machine, our motorcycles and other properties in our community. They also burnt many houses, including our own. They also shot many people.
“Since (yesterday) morning, I have not seen my children, I am looking for my children and I don’t know their whereabouts. I have not eaten since morning.”
Another villager, Christopher Elechi, said: “We were attacked by Agila people. They shot many people and burnt houses. Before we could notice what happened, they had killed many people and burnt houses and other valuable properties.
“We just carried one of those they killed and kept in his house, his name is Emmanuel Ali. The attackers came through Benue and we have been having problems with Benue people.”
Aleke Victoria, also a resident, said some people were beheaded by the attackers
“What happened in our community this (Monday) morning is shocking and terrible. They beheaded some of our people with machetes. They also shot many. We need help,” she lamented.
Fedrick Onah alleged that the attack was jointly carried out by herdsmen and Agila people.
His words: ”I started hearing gunshots and came out. I was told that it was our enemies that attacked us. They killed many people and burnt houses.
”I am hearing that five persons were killed. From my investigations, herdsmen and Agila people carried out these attacks and that is my own understanding.”
Another villager, who gave her name simply as Ngozi, said she lost two of her relatives to the attacks.
“They killed my husband’s two brothers – Chidibere and Emma Nwanjoku; they set all our houses ablaze and sacked us from our villages. The attacks were carried out by herdsmen and Agila people.”