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Fct residents flee community over fear of herdsmen invasion

SCORES of inhabitants of Pandagi, a village in Abaji Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), have run away following alleged threats by Fulani herdsmen to invade and attack the community anytime from now.

In the last few days, at least 300 villagers, mainly women and children, have fled following rumours of a planned reprisal by the herdsmen.

The Madaki of Pandagi, Alhaji Aliyu Ibrahim, told a Saturday Tribune correspondent, who visited the community on Friday, that the villagers had been having sleepless nights for days as a result of reports of possible herdsmen invasion.

He explained that trouble started about three years ago when a group of Fulani herdsmen invaded their farms with cattle and destroyed produce, especially cassava.

Alhaji Ibrahim said the villagers resisted them while the herdsmen ran away, leaving their cows behind.

“After they (the herdsmen) ran away, the vigilance group moved their cattle to Abaji Police Station. The Divisional Police Officer (DPO) then invited a Fulani chief who later discovered that the herders were from Minna, Niger State.

“So, after the issue had been resolved, they went to the police station to claim their cattle. But four days ago, two Tiv men in Agyana village working in a farm were suddenly surrounded by about 10 Fulani herdsmen, who collected their phones and asked if they were natives of Pandagi community. When these Fulani herdsmen discovered that they were Tivs, they returned their SIM cards and went away with the phones but passed the message across that they would invade Pandagi very soon.

“They ran home to inform us of the plan of the Fulani herdsmen to invade our village,” he explained.

When asked what the cause of the latest crisis was, Madaki said: “Nothing! They only told the two Tiv farmers that they would attack us because we moved their cattle to the police station three years ago.”

According to the monarch, the herders’ threat has created palpable fear as farmers have stayed away from their farms, while business activities in the community have been paralysed.

He added that the aged villagers had been relocated to safer areas.

The Madaki, however, disclosed that the police have deployed policemen in the village to maintain law and order and ensure the safety of the remaining inhabitants.

He thanked the chairman of Abaji Area Council and the police authorities for their prompt responses and urged them not to relent in their efforts to ensure permanent peace in the community.

Police authorities could not be reached last night for their reactions but an Abuja-based national newspaper quoted the FCT Police Commissioner, Bala Ciroma, as confirming the incident.

“In fact, the Area Commander and I spent a night alongside our men at the community and the situation has been put under control while we are appealing to the public to always help with useful information,” he was quoted as saying.

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