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Killings in Delta State: Corpses exhumed, as FG maintains silence

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Silence of the federal government over renewed killings in Uwheru has sparked outrage, even as the communities affected on Monday exhumed bodies of the victims and dumped them at a mortuary in Ughelli.

TheNewsGuru.com (TNG) reports Deltans are calling for justice after some arms-wielding herdsmen launched attacks on several communities in Uhweru kingdom in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State.

The attacks on Avwon, Agadama and Ohoror communities reportedly left 8 people dead, and farms and other means of economic livelihood destroyed by the rampaging herdsmen allegedly aided by men in military uniform.

However, President-General of Uwheru Kingdom, Chief Cassidy Akpodafe insisted that eleven persons from the communities were killed by the arms-wielding herdsmen who launched attacks on the area between Thursday and Friday nights.

Meanwhile, the State Police Commissioner, Mr Hafiz Inuwa, had in a statement claimed that only one person was recovered with bullet injuries by search team of security personnel and that the victim was now receiving treatment at the Central Hospital, Ughelli.

Inundated by the controversy surrounding the killing, and forced by the army and police, three corpses believed to have been victims of the onslaught were exhumed on Sunday evening after they had earlier been buried by members of the communities.

Updates reaching TNG has it that further six corpses were exhumed today under supervision of soldiers and policemen. The six bodies were deposited at a mortuary in Ughelli, bringing the number of corpses exhumed so far to nine, while another victim is battling for life in an Ughelli hospital.

Two more bodies are yet to be found as the search for more victims continues tomorrow.

Angered by the unprovoked attack, the umbrella body for the Urhobo nation, the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) has vowed to resort to self-help.

Recall that this is not the first time the Uhweru kingdom and other communities in Delta would be attacked by suspected herdsmen. On several occasions, communities in the kingdom, and communities in Abraka, Ethiope East Local Government Area have fallen under attacks by the dreaded killer herdsmen.

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No fewer than 86 lives have been lost to herdsmen attacks in Uwheru – PG

Speaking on the recent attacks, Chief Cassidy Akpodafe, President-General of Uwheru kingdom said that no fewer than 86 lives have been lost to herdsmen attacks in the kingdom in the last 12 years.

The President-General explained, “What the police are saying is not true. Yesterday (Sunday) three corpses were taken to the mortuary. As we speak, seven persons are dead inside the bush and we have not recovered their dead bodies.

“The three bodies taken to the mortuary were the ones we exhumed. The bodies were exhumed on Sunday evening after the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege visited the community.

“Almost 17 persons have been rushed to hospital for medical treatment. If you go to the Central Hospital Ughelli you will see them. The police should not cook a report that is not correct.”

He appealed to the Delta State and Federal Government to secure them by ordering the herdsmen to leave the community to enable the people of the area return to their farms again.

“All we need is that the Delta State and Federal Government should order Fulani herdsmen to leave our land completely. If you add the present number, over 86 persons have been killed for almost 12 years that the herdsmen took over our farmlands till today.

“We have been crying of their occupation in our lands. Even those that died before, they left them for use to bury without anything being done about it. That was the reason our people insisted that we should bury them because if we complained to the government nothing will still be done about it,” the Uwheru PG stated.

We will no longer condone this, UPU declares

Meanwhile, UPU on Monday warned that no further attacks by the itinerant herdsmen in any part of Urhoboland would be tolerated.

The umbrella body for the Urhobo nation called on President Muhammadu Buhari to stop “this genocidal killings of Urhobo people in Uwheru Kingdom”.

The UPU expressed worry at the allegation by the indigenes that men in military uniform aided the killer herdsmen by shooting sporadically at defenceless people, leaving many of them severely wounded.

The UPU called on the Federal Government and military authorities to do a thorough investigation into the allegation with a view to bringing the perpetrators to book.

The UPU said “We find it ridiculous, insulting, offensive, unacceptable, unimaginable and disgusting that strangers we took in and accommodated as part of us, and as fellow Nigerians, should turn around to become our tormentors and killers? God forbid. We will no longer condone this.

“For too long, we have chosen the path of peace which, unfortunately, has become our greatest undoing. The enemies we took in as friends have taken us for cowards.

“Let it be made categorically clear that the Urhobo Nation cannot be conquered. We are a people with a history of independence. In the prevailing circumstances, we might be forced to defend ourselves and our lands if this unprovoked harassment and killings of our people is not halted forthwith.

“We are saying unequivocally that the Urhobo Nation will never, ever surrender or cede an inch of her territory to any stranger, no matter the situation. The strangers in our land remain strangers and they must respect and obey the laws of the land. We shall no more condone these acts of unprovoked attacks on our people,” the UPU in a statement signed by National Publicity secretary, Hon Abel Oshevire, said.

Read full statement below:

“Reports of the renewed attacks and killings by herdsmen on Agadama Town and other villages in Uwheru Kingdom of Ughelli North Local Government Area, Delta State, where over eight persons were brutally murdered (two of the victims were burnt alive) and many displaced from their ancestral lands have reached the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) Worldwide and we, again, call on the President and Commander- in- Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR to stop this genocidal killings of our people in Uwheru Kingdom.

“We are particularly worried at the allegations that on Saturday, the 15th of February, 2019, men in Military uniforms, allegedly on the side of the herdsmen, were deeply involved in this recent saga and shot sporadically at harmless citizens of Agadama-Uwheru, leaving some of them dead or gravely injured.  The UPU urges the Federal and Military Authorities to investigate this allegation, with a view to bringing the security agents and herdsmen involved in this dastardly activity to book.

“As we also speak, a whole community in Uwheru, Avwon, has been taken over by these herdsmen, while all indigenes have fled the place for their lives. A lot of the people have become refugees in other places, families have been displaced and many who escaped the killings through the bush remain missing and unaccounted for. Other Uwheru communities like Oreba, Owarovwo, Ophororo, Ohoro, Urede among others that constantly face attacks,  or are threatened, by these herdsmen, who openly boast that they will take over these communities unchallenged, have since been witnessing mass exodus of people due to the ferocity and daring rate at which these vampire herdsmen perpetrate their gruesome activities. These herdsmen are known to even demand for levies and protection money from our people in Uwheru, who are pursuing their legitimate livelihood of fishing and farming on their ancestral lands. Those who resist these demands have been known to be attacked, raped, maimed or killed by the wicked herdsmen.

“We find it ridiculous, insulting, offensive, unacceptable, unimaginable and disgusting that strangers we took in and accommodated as part of us, and as fellow Nigerians, should turn around to become our tormentors and killers? God forbid. We will no longer condone this.

“For too long, we have chosen the path of peace which, unfortunately, has become our greatest undoing. The enemies we took in as friends, have taken us for cowards.

“Let it be made categorically clear that the Urhobo Nation cannot be conquered. We are a people with a history of independence. In the prevailing circumstances, we might be forced to defend ourselves and our lands if this unprovoked harassment and killings of our people is not halted forthwith.

“The Urhobo people are peace-loving, whether at home or wherever they dwell. Therefore, we will no longer tolerate the nuisance of any unfriendly and troublesome stranger in our midst.

“We want to plead with those who own or are supporting these rampaging herdsmen to call them to order.  We are saying unequivocally that the Urhobo Nation will never, ever surrender or cede an inch of her territory to any stranger, no matter the situation. The strangers in our land remain strangers and they must respect and obey the laws of the land. We shall no more condone these acts of unprovoked attacks on our people.

“We want to warn trouble makers in our land to toe the line of peace and be reminded that our people have the capacity to defend themselves against any invaders. We shall not be cowed or intimidated by any group of strangers in our own land.

“We have remained patient over the years and our patience is fast running out. Enough is Enough!”

Meanwhile, the federal government has maintained utmost silence over the killings.

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