Muslim Fulani herdsmen are suspected to have been behind attacks on isolated farms in Nigeria’s Anambra State, that have left six dead and three dozen others injured.
On the 6 April 2019 the unidentified assailants attacked farm settlements in the Anambra West Local Government Area of Anambra State. Survivors of the raid report that around 5:40 in the morning the attackers set fire to farm houses and killed the men and raped the women whom they captured. Photographs from the attack show several of the men having had their throats slit or were beheaded.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, the Rt. Rev. Henry Okeke, Bishop of the Church of Nigeria’s Mbamili Diocese urged the Federal government to put an end to the attacks, but urged natives of the region not to seek revenge against the migrant herdsmen.
“This is a very unfortunate incident because these are core farmers. They are the food basket of Anambra State. Definitely, it is going to affect not only the economy of our state, but the country generally. It has been confirmed, I got the news this morning about the killings.”
“Now, following the incident, farmers have left their farmlands. The Fulani people are also on the run. So, it is an unfortunate situation. I want to say it clearly that the Federal Government has the key. They must not sit down and watch people being killed by the herdsmen and their farms being destroyed. But Fulani men have been around here for some years now, but the recent destruction of farms has brought about unhealthy situations,” the bishop told Nigerian newspapermen.
“The Federal Government actually has to do something,” the bishops said, asking them to “summon the leaders of the herdsmen and the rest of them. I think with that this fire can be quenched now. The government of Anambra State instructed farmers through their Igwes to allow herdsmen graze their cattle, but the word ‘allow’ must be interpreted because when you say allow, what do you mean? Is it to allow them to graze and destroy farms crops? Is it to allow them to continue to cause trouble? If you allow someone to stay in your land and do his business, there must be restrictions, there must be a border line, of course, you know that 99.9 per cent of Anambra West are farmers. They are farmers or do you expect farmers to fold their arms and watch the herdsmen kill them and destroy their farms?”
The hospitality extended to the Fulani was not a license for them to drive farmers off their land, he said. “Anambra West is a hospitable environment people who are so much accommodating. They have accommodated the herdsmen over the years, who have turned against them, killing and maiming their hosts, “ the bishop said.