By Ralph Christopher
The Abia State Commissioner of Police, Mrs. Janet Agbede, has ordered the arrest and detention of the former chairman of Abia State Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze John Akaliro; another traditional ruler, Eze Sunday Ekebuisi and seven others over the recent clash between Fulani herdsmen and some farmers at Ozuitem in Bende Local Government Area of the state.
Early in January, a group of Fulani herdsmen pastured their cows on farmlands in Ozuitem and destroyed farms and cash crops worth millions of naira and allegedly threatened the farmers.
The affected farmers had through their representatives reported the matter to the chairman of Bende LGA, who later directed the Divisional Police Officer, (DPO), Bende Police Division, to investigate the matter.
Few weeks after the farmers and villagers lodged the report, there was another clash at Onuiyagha area in Bende LGA when some unknown persons clashed with herders over the destruction of their cash crops and some cows were killed.
Sources informed that penultimate Wednesday, the DPO of Bende LGA invited those who had earlier reported the destruction of their cash crops and farmlands by Fulani herdsmen to Umuahia.
The invitation was also extended to the two Frrst Class traditional rulers and President-Generals of some town unions, under the pretext that the Commissioner of Police wanted to broker peace between them.
When Eze Akaliro and another monarch, Ekebuisi and seven others got to the State Police Command headquarters,Umuahia, the Commissioner of Police, Mrs Janet Agbede, reportedly ordered their arrest and detention, accusing them of organizing the killing of cows at Onuiyagha.
The Commissioner was said to have vowed that the two monarchs and others who came along with them will be in detention till they pay for the cows.
She has refused all entreaties to release the monarchs on self recognition, according to reports.
According to a Community leader in Bende town, Chief Kalu Mba Uka; “It is unfortunate that our people including two First Class traditional rulers are being unjustly detained at state command, Umuahia, under the directive of the state commissioner of Police, for no other reason than cows which have been destroying their farms, were allegedly killed by unknown persons.
“It is only in this part of the country that a traditional ruler of Eze Akaliro’s standing will be detained by a CP because unknown persons killed some cows.
“Could CP Agbede have ordered the arrest and detention of a first class Emir or Oba because of cows?”
The community leader described the detention of the monarchs as a desecration of the traditional institution, injustice and intimidation against the people of Ozuitem.
He lamented that the people of Bende LGA have suffered from the destructive activities of Fulani herdsmen who destroy cash crops and farm lands and rape women and urged the government to order the herdsmen out of farmlands in the area.
When called through the telephone for her reaction, the Abia State Commissioner of Police, Mrs Janet Agbede, refused to respond to calls and text message placed on her mobile number, 08094448883, as it kept ringing without response.