At least 50 villagers including women and children were, between Monday evening and Tuesday morning, murdered by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Egedege, Obegu and Amazu in Ishielu LGA of Ebonyi state and Umuhu community in Isi-Uzo LGA of neighbouring Enugu state.
Many others received various degrees of injuries caused by AK-47 rifles and machetes. Vehicles and motorcycles were burnt. The attackers, it was further gathered, also looted some property from the area.
A priest of the Methodist Church was said to be among those killed in the attack.
Eyewitness said the herders came into the area in large numbers at about 6:30 to 7pm yesterday and mounted roadblocks, invaded houses in the two communities and killed several villagers.
According to him, corpses of about 50 victims had so far been deposited in a private morgue in the neighbouring Eha Amufu town in Enugu state, while more corpses were still being retrieved from bushes in the affected villages.
The incident was a reprisal because there was a time a Fulani man was reportedly killed there. Last week, the Igbo villagers noticed that the Fulani began to leave the village.
Police public relations officer for the state command DSP Loveth Odah confirmed the incident.
Odah said a team of police officers led by the deputy commissioner of police in charge of operations was dispatched by commissioner of police, Aliyu Garba, to visit the community for on-the-spot assessment.
Meanwhile, Ebonyi governor David Umahi, who visited the scene of the massacre by suspected Fulani herdsmen, has condemned the incident as bestial and capable of sparking a war.
The governor put the number of those confirmed dead at 15, while alluding to possible reprisal following the killing of two herdsmen sometime last year.
He called on the security agencies to immediately fish out the perpetrators, adding that such act was capable of triggering another civil war.
Umahi said: “I remember that about a year ago, we had incident of killing of two herdsmen within this same location and immediately the security agencies, the local government Chairman and the community leaders all came together to condemn the attack and the killing and we immediately asked the security agencies to fish out the people that did that and they did fish them out and as we talk, they are standing trial in Ebonyi State and the community and security agencies appeased the herdsmen and made peace with them.
“And so, it is very shocking that overnight, all the herdsmen in Ishielu local government vacated Ishielu local government, which means that the local herdsmen in Ishielu are part of the conspiracy of killing of our people. They vacated despite all efforts my government, the governors of southeast and security agencies have been making to give them full protection not only in the state but in the entire South-East.
“We feel so sad that this kind of thing should happen in Ebonyi State, we feel so worried for our country Nigeria and we are short of words.
“Good enough, we have some traces of the sponsors; we have the traces of those who came here. I will not disclose it but I am going to escalate the identities of the people to the highest authorities and we wait to see what they will do but we condemn this attack; it is not only happening in Ebonyi State and this country if it is allowed to go this way, it is capable of generating very serious civil war in Nigeria.
“I want to demand from the security chiefs to fish out these people because they are well known; they should fish them out let them face the wrath of the law. It has happened in so many places and they were not fished out and that’s why this kind of thing is happening. I want to appeal to these communities to rest assured that we will get them. We have their identities; we have their connections, we have the contact. Please stay calm, don’t take laws into your hands, two wrongs can never make a right so that you give us the opportunity to fish them out.”