By Ovie Okpare
Urhobo leaders under the auspices of Urhobo Renaissance Society (URS) on Friday called on the Federal Government of President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly tame the spate of killings, rape and maiming by armed-wielding herdsmen in Urhoboland especially in Uwheru Kingdom in Delta State.
They lamented that the unabated attacks and killings of their kinsmen by herdsmen believed to be mostly foreigners from Chad, Mali, Niger and other African countries without proactive intervention of government is emboldening the hoodlums in their criminal trade.
Urhobo Renaissance Society (URS), a body of renowned academia, businessmen and Urhobo professionals, spoke on Friday during a visit to the graveyard of slain victims of last month herdsmen repeated attacks in Agadama community where the victims were given mass burial on Thursday.
National Chairman of URS, Professor Hope Eghagha, who led a delegation of prominent Urhobo sons and daughters including renowned law professor, Chief (Prof) Joseph Abugu, Prof (Mrs) Rose Aziza, Prof Sunny Awhefeada and Chief Joseph Okoro, had earlier visited the palace of Odion R’ Ode (Ovie) Of Uwheru Kingdom before proceeding to the community town hall and graveyard to pay their last respect to the deceased.
Prof Eghagha, speaking while presenting relief materials to the people of the affected communities, said URS is working with the apex socio-cultural umbrella of Urhobo Nation, Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) to ensure that the killings of Urhobo indigenes by herdsmen is urgently addressed.
He stated that URS is touched by the gruesome killings and condemned a situation where members of the communities who are predominantly farmers are now scared to visit their farms over fears of being killed, raped or attacked by herdsmen.
Eghagha, a professor of English Language at University of Lagos (UNILAG) and former commissioner for Education in Delta, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to protect Urhobo people from further attacks and invasion by herdsmen.
He stressed that Urhobo Nation will not cede any portion of their land through any guise to foreigners or local invaders.
The former commissioner called on the international community to intervene in the helpless situation of Uwheru Kingdom by directing the Nigerian government to ensure that Urhobo people are protected from herdsmen’ attacks.
He also appealed to heads of security agencies in the country to diligently investigate and prosecute its men who are alleged to have taken sides with the marauding herdsmen in the attacks against the people of Uwheru Kingdom.
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According to him, “We are here to commiserate with our kith and kin who were attacked by strangers in their land, and during this last attacks ten people lost their lives. The President-General of the community spoke earlier on saying over 80 persons have lost their lives.
“Sometimes, their wives are raped and killed. You know what it means for your wife to be raped in your presence. People were slaughtered and burnt. This is unacceptable by any standard. By the laws of the land, you cannot bear arms except you are licensed. The people here are defenceless.
“So, we are calling on the federal government to perform its duties and obligation to Urhobo people specifically towards the people of Uwheru Kingdom by ensuring that security forces protect them. I emphasize; protect them (Uwheru people). The narrative out there is that some of the security forces took sides with the invaders. That is very unfortunate.
“It’s our view that such persons in our security forces who took sides against our people should be invited and interrogated. Where it’s established that such murderers took sides against our people due sanctions should be invoked against them.”