By Ovie Okpare
The people of Uhweru Kingdom in the Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State have described as ‘falsehood’ the position of State Police Command on the alleged attacks by suspected herdsmen in some communities of the kingdom where no fewer than ten persons were reportedly killed.
The people who spoke through the President-General of Uwheru Kingdom, Chief Cassidy Akpodafe, insisted that eleven persons from the communities were alleged killed by the arms-wielding herdsmen who launched attacks on the area between Thursday and Friday nights.
It was also learnt that about three corpses believed to have been victims of the onslaught were exhumed on Sunday evening after they had been earlier been buried by members of the communities.
Akpodafe confirmed the development on Monday to NIGER DELTA TODAY Online.
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.
Inuwa described the alleged killings in the community as misleading and capable of heating the polity in the state.
But reacting to the CP’s claim, the Uwheru President-General explained “What the police are saying is not true. Yesterday (Sunday) three corpses were taken to the mortuary.”
According to him, “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.”
Akpodafe stated that no fewer than 86 lives have been lost to herdsmen attacks in the kingdom in the last 12 years.
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.
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“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 been done about it”, the Uwheru PG added.
Investigation by NIGER DELTA TODAY Online identified one of the victims who was reportedly killed and subsequently burnt as Itoje Dennis who hailed from Otor-Iyede in Isoko North local government area of the state who has since been taken to his hometown for burial.
Exhumed Bodies To Under Go Autopsy Says Omo-Agege
Similarly, the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who visited the community on Sunday, confirmed that some persons allegedly killed in the crisis were exhumed and had been taken to the Central Hospital Ughelli for autopsy.
Omo-Agege told this reporter that “I am aware of the three that were exhumed. They were exhumed yesterday (Sunday) evening after I left the community. The bodies are there at the Ughelli Central Hospital waiting for autopsy.”
Military Forced Us To Exhumed Dead Bodies – Mouboghare
Also confirming the exhuming of the dead bodies, the State Commissioner for Higher Education and leader in the kingdom, Prof. Patrick Muoboghare, alleged that the military forced people of the community to exhume the corpses on Sunday.
He also described the claims of the state police commissioner that no dead body has been recovered as lie, adding “That is a lie from the pit of hell. I have been in the village Saturday and Sunday. I was there at Agadama -the epic centre with the police, soldiers and all.
“Yes, it’s true the killing started on Thursday night and on Friday night it repeated itself. On Saturday, the boys couldn’t bear it anymore because their people were killed and some burnt beyond recognition…On that Saturday when the boys were angry, they barricaded the road. That’s when the herdsmen knew that they have to call their brothers who are soldiers and they came shooting.
“They shot one boy and they took him to Uwheru mean town for treatment but he died. In anger, the people of the community took the corpse to the palace of the Odion R’ode (monarch). The Odion R’Ode is still alive. And the soldiers and the police are claiming nobody died?
“Secondly, the soldiers now insisted that since their soldiers were injured we must produce the corpses of those we claimed were dead. We told them that herdsmen have taken over the place and we cannot enter. They said they will lead and the saw one boy who was shot since on Friday still breathing.
“They took him to hospital. He said he was going to farm when he was attacked and other were killed and they (herdsmen) took the bodies away. The one that was burnt beyond recognition, the family buried him. The Fulani herdsmen are there in the bush with the bodies of our people. They confronted the herdsmen and they said they will not release the bodies. And as I speak to you, they didn’t release the dead bodies as on Sunday.”
However, efforts to speak with the authorities of 222 Battalion of the Nigerian Army on the allegation against the military proved abortive.
I’m Not Aware Dead Bodies Were Exhumed – Police Commissioner
Meanwhile, the State Commissioner of Police, Inuwa told our correspondent that he was not aware that some dead bodies allegedly killed by herdsmen had been exhumed in the troubled community.
When asked if he was aware that some of the dead bodies had been exhumed and taken to Ughelli Central Hospital, the police commissioner said, “I don’t know about that and even if some dead bodies were brought, it’s subject to investigation. We’ll find out.
“The rescue team that went there on Saturday and Sunday in company of the PG, the police and members of the community all went round except one person that was seen with gunshots injuries, nobody was seen. If there was any other attack prior to that and was not reported to the police, we don’t know about it. if there is any other case it’s subject to investigation.”