Tension Mounts in Kogi East as Fulani Herdsmen Assert Control Over Omala Local Government

Palpable fear has engulfed the whole of Omala Local Government Area of Kogi State following the large scale influx of Fulani herdsmen into the area.

The herdsmen, in their thousands, have almost outnumbered the original inhabitants of the towns and villages. A visit by our reporters to Abejukolo, the Local Government headquarters revealed that they (the herdsmen) have occupied all the public places, including schools, mosques and markets.
Similar visits to other villages in the local government like Agbenema, Echa, Ogoh, Ibado, Icheke, Ajokpachi, Bagaji, Akpacha, Ogodu, Olla indicated that most of the indigenous people were moving out to Similar communities out of fear of attacks, as the herders are never known for peaceful coexistence.

Indigenes who on the condition of anonymity said they were apprehensive because of the sheer number of strange people who had besieged their villages in the last few days and had been challenging anyone to dare ask them to leave.
They also cited the example of villages like Bagana and Iyade where the indigenes had been sacked and their villages and farms forcefully occupied by Fulani herdsmen for over a year now. Another case is the recent attack on Agojeju-odo during which a number of indigenes were killed, including a prominent political leader in the area.

Investigations revealed that the invading Fulani herdsmen were encouraged by the recent olive branch extended to them by the recently appointed Caretaker Chairman of the local government who saw rapprochement as a way of ensuring peaceful coexistence between them and local farmers.

However, it was also discovered that the herdsmen who had hitherto approached the Chairman to be allowed to settle in the local government with a commitment to be law-abiding, took advantage of the gesture to invite their colleagues who had been attacking villages in Benue State to come into Omala Local Government. This has also created some mistrust between communities in the local government and their neighbours in Benue who fear that the herdsmen could launch attacks on them from their new base.

To lend credence to the fears being expressed by the local farmers, it has been alleged that the arms-bearing herdsmen now invade farms where they destroy crops at will without any repercussion As a result, the people have abandoned their farms and are now appealing to the authorities, especially the security agencies to ensure their safety and security.

Echoing the appeal for the authorities to take the Omala case serious, a prominent indigene of the local government, Dr James Odaudu challenged the security agencies to rise up to the occasion and secure the people and their properties.

According to Odaudu, the issue of incessant attacks by the herdsmen has been toyed with by the immediate past government of the state.

It is also being suspected that the influx into Omala Local Government Area is a precursor to a full-scale invasion of the whole Kogi East Senatorial District, as Omala LGA is at the boundary with both Nasarawa and Benue States.

Omala Local Government, and parts of Dekina Local government have been on the receiving end of attacks by Fulani herdsmen for some time, leading to the sacking of Bagana, a major commercial centre on the banks of River Benue, and Iyade, fully occupied by the herdsmen.

The Oganenigwu community in Dekina LGA has also had a fair share of attacks by the herdsmen.


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