By Charles Agbai, Abakaliki
A suspected Fulani herdsman (names withheld) was on Thursday reported to have raped a 14 year old girl, Favour Okugbo of Umuifi community of Anioma-Isu in Onicha Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
The victim who is a student of Union Secondary School, Agueke-Isu in the area had been taken to an undisclosed medical facility for treatment.
Confirming the incident, the Chairman of the community, Festus Nwachukwu condemned the activities of Fulani herdsmen in Umuifi Anioma-Isu community as a threat to the agricultural revolution of the
state considering how the herdsmen have been destroying their farm produce and threatening the peaceful co-existence of the Onicha people.
According to him, even though the suspect has been arrested by the police, the act that was committed by the herdsman was an abomination to our land and we are going to carry out a cleansing ceremony on the land so that it will remain fertile.
“The Fulani herdsmen are destroying our farms; if you want to talk to them they will threaten you with cutlasses; our major occupation is farming; we can no more farm because of this menace; they are fond of using their cows to destroy our farmlands and crops.
“The government policies on agriculture are being threatened in Onicha LGA. I came back from church on Sunday of 9th April and learnt that this girl was raped by a Fulani man when she went to the farm to get vegetables; and that if she refused he would kill her; he used the cutlass to beat her on the back and then raped her.
“What has happened is an abomination in our land; the man has damaged the fertility of the land and we are going to use cows, fowls and many cartons of drinks and palm wine to bless the land.”
Narrating her ordeal, the victim, Favour Okugbo who said she has been sad over the incident called on the state government to look into the activities of Fulani herdsmen in Umuifi community in order to avert any negative episode in the near future.
“I went to the farm to fetch vegetables when I was attacked by the Fulani herdsman. He came to our farm with his cows and cross the cows around; he asked me if am with water and food, I said no; he now went and got more cows to surround me; he told me that if I allow him to have sex with him, he will give me N700. I refused and started running away. He chased me and used the back of his cutlass on my back so I fell and he raped me.
“I feel sad; I want the government to come to my aid as young girls like me are no longer safe to go to the farms and help our parents; government should make sure the arrested Fulani herdsmen is prosecuted according to the law. Fulani herdsmen with bad intentions should be forcibly sent out of leave our land.”
Reacting, a member of the State Committee on Herdsmen, Mr. Amechi Oken who extolled Governor David Umahi for putting machineries in place to checkmate the excesses of herdsmen in the state added that the Committee usually visit locations were skirmishes between herdsmen and farmers occur in order to proffer solutions.
As at the time of this report, the State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Loveth Oda denied knowledge of the incident promising to carry out further investigation.