The women of Isu in Onicha Local Government Area of Ebonyi State on Wednesday stormed Abakaliki protesting the activities of herdsmen in the area.
Scores of women carried placards with different inscriptions such as “Fulanis have destroyed all our crops and polluted our rivers and ponds,’ ‘Fulanis have humiliated us.’
They alleged that one of the herdsmen raped a 70-year-old widow to coma.
According to the leader of the protesters, Florence Okoro, the herdsman sneaked into the old widow’s house while she was preparing her evening meal and raped her.
Ms. Okoro, who added that the hands and legs of the old widow were broken in the process, appealed to the state government and security agencies to come to their aid.
Addressing the women at the Fatilami Abubakar Park, Abakaliki, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Augustine Nwankwegu, condemned the rape of the woman and the destruction of the farmlands by the herdsmen.
Mr. Nwankwegu assured them that the government would take decisive action against the perpetrators of the crimes.
He told them that Governor David Umahi had directed that the culprit be fished out and made to face the full weight of the law.
He said Mr. Umahi had always emphasised the need for peaceful coexistence.
“Governor has heard this and asked me to look for a way to catch the man(rapist) so that he would be punished accordingly,” he said.
“We have gone to the police and they told us they were on the way to bring him(rapist) to Abakaliki.
“I’m promising you that by Monday, he would be arraigned in court. You will come and see him because what he has done is wrong. The governor supports live and let live,” the commissioner said.
On his part, the Chief of Staff, Government House, Emmanuel Okorie, frowned at the activities of the herdsmen in the area, promising that the right thing would be done to serve as a deterrent to others.
“It’s annoying that the Fulani herdsmen, instead of taking care of their cattle are touching you. What is expected to be done for you to be happy, our governor will do it”.
Reacting to the development, the head of Fulani herdsmen in the state, Ardo Bello, said upon interrogation the suspect denied raping the victim.
Mr. Bello said when the suspect was seen around the community, he was warned to steer clear of the area, which he did.
“The community members even killed one of his cows. He is a stranger in the state. The suspect is already in the police net and has denied ever raping the victim contrary to speculations or claims from the community members.”
Also, the Secretary of the Fulani herdsmen in the state, Alhaji Haladu, said he just got to know about the incident and denied the involvement of any herdsman in such crime.
“I just heard about the incident. Not at all will a herdsman commit such crime because of how we comport ourselves in the state.
“If we get the suspect we will tell him to use the Quran to swear and if he refuses it means he did it. Apart from being arrested by the police we know how we discipline our members.”