The embittered youths decried the menacing activities and atrocities allegedly carried out by herdsmen in the area.
Hundreds of youths of Isuochi in the Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia State, Wednesday, took to the streets to protest against incessant kidnappings by suspected herdsmen in the area.
This comes barely 24 hours after the release of the Prelate of the Methodist Church Nigeria, His Eminence Samuel Uche and two other clerics, who were kidnapped in the community on Sunday.
Uche said a ransom of N100 million was paid to secure their release.
The irate youths who stormed the Umunneochi council headquarters at Nkwoagu Isuochi where they conveyed their grievances to the council chairman, carried placards with various inscriptions.
Decked in black attire and chanting war songs, the embittered youths decried the menacing activities and atrocities allegedly carried out by herdsmen in the area.
The inscriptions on the displayed placards include: "Enough is enough", " Garki cattle market must go", and "Army should open Ihube/Isuochi road".
Comrade Divine Uche, who led the youths of Umunneochi, reportedly told the council chairman that they would no longer tolerate the continued harassment, torture and kidnapping of their people for ransom, allegedly by herdsmen in the area.
While accusing security agents, especially the Nigerian Army of aiding the murderous group on the prowl in the area, the youths demanded the immediate relocation of Lokpanta regional cattle market which they alleged provides cover for the criminals instead of deterring them.
The youths also demanded that the military checkpoint at Lomara junction should be removed and the barricade by the soldiers blocking the Ihube/Isuochi Road cleared without delay so that motorists will be plying the route again.
According to them, the presence of the military checkpoint in the area has not stopped kidnappings and other criminal activities of the suspected herdsmen. They said rather, abductions for ransom go on with impunity under the nose of the security agents in the area.
The youths vowed that if after seven days their demands were not met, they might be forced to take the law into their hands to protect their people against criminal herders on the prowl in the area.
One of the demonstrators, Mrs Chetachi Obi-Nwoke, said that the locals now live in fear of herdsmen who have been terrorising the people.
She challenged security agencies to rise to the occasion to prevent angry youths from taking the law into their hands.
Responding, Chief of Staff to the Council Chairman, Mr Emmanuel Azubuike, who said his boss had gone to Umuahia for a security meeting with the governor, thanked the youths for their peaceful comportment and promised to convey their message to the chairman.
He noted with concern, the atrocities of alleged herdsmen in the area and the docility of security agencies.
He expressed sadness that the efforts of the council to open up the Ihube/Isuochi Road were being frustrated by the soldiers at Lomara military checkpoint, who insisted that the council must first complete a perimeter fence of their post there.
He said, "The council has done over 80% of the work but it is regretted that the soldiers have continued to frustrate our efforts to complete the project.
"Cement bought by the council for the work was even destroyed by rain due to the hostile attitude of the soldiers.”
Azubuike said "the council is already overwhelmed by the security challenges in the area”.
“We can only appeal to both the state and federal governments to come to our rescue," he added.