- Demand N10m ransom
By Anayo Okoli & Francis Igata
Tension is brewing in Owa community in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State where a Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Aniako Celestine, priest in charge of St. Joseph Catholic Church, Ukana, Udi Local Government Area was kidnapped by suspected Fulani herdsmen Saturday evening on his way from his home town, Ezeagu.
Vanguard reliably gathered that the herdsmen demanded a ransom of N10 million through his mobile number. This is even as activities of herdsmen in Ugwuleshi, Awgu Local Government Area of the state, last week, led to destruction of farmland and livestock worth millions of Naira and the detention of 76 members of the community, who were later granted bail by Umuahia Magistrate’s Court last Friday, following Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s intervention.
The herdsmen had also killed two sisters in Abbi, Uzo Uwani Local Government Area last month leaving 17 houses burnt. State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Ebere Amaraizu, confirmed the abduction of the priest, saying the command was on their trail. Meanwhile, following the release from prison custody of the 76 farmers from Ugwuleshi autonomous community in Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu State, after they were granted bail by Magistrate Court’s in Umuahia, Abia State capital, the traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Godwin Nwobi, and some other leaders from the area, during the weekend, commended the efforts of Governor Ugwuanyi in securing the release of the farmers.
While noting that the farmers arrived home safely to unite with their loved ones after they were granted bail, the people of the community through their traditional ruler, Igwe Nwobi and other political stakeholders, appealed to the Federal Government to find a lasting solution to the challenges being encountered between the nomadic Fulani/Hausa herdsmen and indigenous farmers in their community over the grazing of cattle on farmlands.
In another development, the Uchenna Madu-led Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, has warned soldiers to stop molesting and intimidating Ndigbo while protecting Fulani herdsmen who use their cattle to destroy farmlands and crops.
In a statement yesterday, the National Director of Information for the group, Mr. Samuel Edeson, alleged that the activities of the herdsmen were part of the alleged grand design to Islamise Nigeria.
He said: “MASSOB warns Nigerian Army to stop intimidating and killing the people of Biafra in the guise of protecting the Fulani herdsmen and their cattle. “MASSOB advise South-East governors to encourage community-based vigilante groups for proper and well-coordinated security of lives, properties and farmlands.”