•Police: Killers not Herdsmen
- BY OSELOKA NNAMDI in Awka
A middle-aged woman whose name was not immediately ascertained has been raped and murdered in her farmland by persons suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
The incident, which happened on Saturday in Nteje, Oyi local government area is said to have sparked off meetings in the community, as members, met in a bid to ascertain her identity.
A source in Nteje who spoke on condition of anonymity said the news went round the community on Saturday when the corpse of the victim was discovered.
The monarch of Nteje community, Igwe Rowland Odegbo who spoke to journalists confirmed the death, but said the diseased was not from his community.
He said the picture of the deceased has been taken round the community, and no one could identify her as one of their own.
“The incident happened in a land belonging to our neighbours, Umuleri. That was where she was found, so we suspect that she may be from Umuleri or even Aguleri. The matter has already been lodged at Otuocha police division,” Odegbo said.
Another source from the community insisted that the woman was from Nteje and had just completed the burial rites of her husband in February. The source said the woman whonhad gone to her farm was later discovered dead, and was also suspected to have been raped before being killed.
When contacted, the spokesperson of the Anambra State Police Command, Princess Nkeiru Nwode, denied that the incident had anything to do with herdsmen.
“I don’t know of the woman being murdered by Fulani herdsmen. There is nothing to show that Fulani herdsmen were involved in the killing. That matter is a sensitive issue and I would not want you to report what would set off the peace we have in the state,” she said.
Nwaode however stated that one person has been arrested in connection to the matter, and was still being held in their custody.
On whether the detained suspect was a Fulani herdsman, Nwode declined comment, saying that investigation was still on, and that it was too early to divulge vital information.
“I cannot tell you now if the suspect is Fulani or not because it is too early. We will let you people know about that at the appropriate time. You must know the issue is also sensitive and requires a lot of carefulness.”
Anambra has a standing policy of holding herdsmen responsible for any damage caused by their herds to farmers’ crop, or indigenous farmers paying for the death of cattle if found responsible, but what would be done in the event of a herdsman killing a farmer was still unknown.
Attempt to reach the Anambra State police commissioner, Mr Garba Umar who is a member of the committee on resolution of farmers, herdsmen crisis in the state on possible ways of resolving the issues if the deceased was found to have been murdered by herdsmen was not successful.