A rice farmer in Ondo State, Amaka Okafor, has shared her horrible experience with a killer herdsman, who cut off her hand when she tried to prevent his cows from grazing her crops.
Okafor, who was recently attacked in the Ayede Ogbese community in the Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo State, told Punch that the culprit is a free man yet to be arrested by the police while she is still hospitalised.
According to her, she had gone to her rice farm on a fateful day and when she sighted Fulani herdsmen coming into her farm, she warned them to desist from destroying her crops.
Okafor said she also reported to one of the leaders of the herdsmen in the community called Isa, who told her off.
She said the other herders, however, complied but the culprit, a 20-year-old herder refused. She said upon sighting him with his cows inside her farm, she challenged him as to why he would bring his cows to her farm to destroy all that was planted again.
She said the herder, whose name she doesn't know, got infuriated when she told him his nemesis would catch up with him in future and that God would judge him.
“He became angry and said: ‘What did you say?’ He said I was mad and he took out his cutlass to attack me, but I ran and he started chasing me and I began to shout. As I was running, l fell to the ground. He caught up with me and raised the cutlass to cut my neck but I blocked it with my hand. My wrist was almost cut off; I have a very deep cut on my wrist and my head.
“When he saw one of my workers running towards the direction, he commanded the cows and all of them ran away. It was my worker who assisted me to tie the wrist with my cloth and raised the alarm for the other workers to come and assist me to the hospital. They washed my face with water because the blood was too much. I later called the Divisional Crime Officer of the community to inform him of the development. When I got to the hospital, the doctor tried for me because the vein had been cut.”
Okafor said ever since she reported the incident to the police, nothing has been done up till now; as the culprit has yet to be arrested.
She said the leader of the Fulani in the state was informed and promised to confirm the situation, which he did but nothing had been done.
“The policemen in the community know the man and his father very well, but they’ve not invited or arrested them. I know the man very well but don’t know his name. I know him very well; the man is in his 20s. He and his family members live in this community.”
When asked if she ever had any altercation with any of the Fulani herdsmen in time past, Okafor said they were always friendly with her but claimed, “the family of the particular man, who attacked me, are the problem in the community. They don’t play or form relationships with anyone. They’re the ones who always attack people in the community.”
Okafor, a farmer with over seven hectares of land, said she invests about N1.5 million and N2 million in her business annually through loans and pays back after selling what was harvested.
She complained of how she is now indebted with no means of paying back despite having a mother and a child to feed.
She called for the intervention of the Nigerian government in the community as she claimed there are over 3,000,000 cows in the community, owned by herders who maim and kill innocent residents.
“I want serious attention from the government on this matter, especially in Ogbese. The Fulani attacks on us are too many. They will attack, rape and destroy our things. A few months ago, they raped one woman in this community and up till now, no one has been arrested. The Fulani are just too many here in Ogbese with over three million cows. I also want to appeal to the government to assist me. I’m a widow with a child and an aged mother, whom I’m taking care of. If you have an encounter with the Fulani, they will still come after the person; many people have cases with them. I need protection as well as financial assistance because as it is now, I have loans to repay; the herdsmen have destroyed my farm, how will I repay the loans? Now, I’m fed up. I think it’s time I quit; I want to leave Ondo State entirely. The debt will be too much for me to bear,” she said.