In recent times, tension had mounted between the Fulani cattle grazers who had waged a running battle with Umumbo farmers leading to fears of imminent attack coming on the heels of the mass slaughter of the residents of Nimbo, a neighbouring community across the border in Enugu State.
However, the Special Committee that the governor had set up to mediate between cattle grazers and the agrarian communities had brought its full weight to bear on the lingering dispute, leading to the decision to pay mutually agreed compensations for infractions committed by each party against the other.
Following the terms of agreement between both parties, the Fulani herdsmen paid the sum of N500,000 each for two Umumbo farmers that lost their lives in the clash with the herders and N150,000 for a casualty who sustained severe machete cuts. The Umobo farmers on their own part paid the sum of N500,000 each for two Fulani herdsmen that also died in the clash and another N4.5m for 97 cows that were slaughtered in the conflict.
Speaking at the exchange of compensations, Governor Obiano re-emphasized that the payment of compensations was one of the terms of peace agreed to by all the parties involved in the Special Committee on Cattle Menace which is made up of the leaders of the Fulani herdsmen, leaders the agrarian communities, the Nigerian Police and the government of Anambra State.
According to him, the compensations were not to be taken to represent the true value of the losses incurred by all the parties involved in the conflict but merely serve as symbols of a collective resolve by both parties to co-exist in peace and harmony going forward.
He commended the Committee for stamping its authority on the peace process and ensuring that the parties in dispute were sufficiently persuaded to work for peace, noting that through their prompt intervention, Anambra had remained insulated from the growing menace of Fulani herdsmen that is currently ravaging the country.
Governor Obiano further assured all Nigerians living in Anambra State that his administration would do everything possible to protect their lives and property in the state and urged the Fulani herdsmen to closely monitor the movements of their itinerant kinsmen passing through the state to ensure that they did not leave a trail of blood in their wake.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hosea Karma who chairs the Special Committee on the Menace of Cattle herders had explained that the compensations were traded to cushion the losses incurred by both parties and assured that investigations were still on to fish out the culprits on both sides and have them prosecuted.
Similarly, in their separate remarks, the traditional ruler of Umumbo community, Igwe Ikechukwu Chidubem and the Sarikin Fulani in the state, Alhaji Gidado Sadiq expressed their gratitude to the governor for what they described as his “excellent security management strategy,” which ensured that peace prevailed in the face of imminent conflict and gave their assurances that both communities would work for peace going forward.
Also speaking at the ceremony, the widow of one of the slain farmers in Umumbo, mrs. Eucharia Okafor, the greatest achievement of the initiative was the restoration of peace in Umumbo after a very long period of fear of imminent attack by the murderous herdsmen
Giving an insight into the achievements of the Committee since inception in February this year, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Secuirty, Mr. O’star Christopher revealed that the committee had amicably resolved such issues in 10 communities across Anambra State including Urum, Mkpunando, Eziagulu-Otu, Enugwu-Otu, Nando, Nteje, Ukwulu, Igbariam, Awba-Ofemili, Agulu-Ezechukwu and Ogboji where compensations were paid in various sums.
As a sign of the final resolution of the conflict and the restoration of peace, the leaders of the Fulani cattle grazers had a symbolic handshake with the Igwe of Umumbo to seal the armistice
BY JAMES EZE