- Residents live in palpable fear
- How growing insecurity affected education sector in Enugu community
- Number of pupils, students dwindled
- LG boss held security meeting to find a lasting solution
For the people of Opanda community, Uzo-Uwani local government area of Enugu state, life is gradually becoming inhabitable in the community.
Tucked about sixty kilometres away from the local government headquarters, Umulokpa, Opanda community has been living in perpetual fear and sheep without shepherd for close to five years now due largely to incessant attacks by the Fulani herdsmen.
However, when our reporter visited the community, many shops were closed and vacated due to soaring insecurity and alleged herdsmen attacks.
In any case, one of the community dwellers, Ajeka Friday told WITHIN NIGERIA that the remaining community dwellers are currently living in palpable fear.
“We are living in palpable fear. Everyday, we are being slaughtered like chicken. We have lost count of people that were killed here this month (July) and so it continues. Before less than two hours, you will see people with their luggage on truck relocating to other nearby community like Nsukka town.”
Asked if they have reported the situation to the traditional ruler, Ajeka stated that “we don’t have a traditional ruler here in Opanda. Our traditional ruler resides in Ukpabi. We have reported times without number the ugly incident to him but he has kept saying he will look into it. Yet every day, people are being slaughtered like goats.”
Explaining further, Mr. Ajeka said that ” I am a well known farmer here and also wood producer and seller. But this year, I couldn’t cultivate anything because of fear of herdsmen attacks.
“I can’t go inside bush to source for wood again because of insecurity. These herdsmen have literally pursued us out of the farm settlement. Apart from that, they have continued to kidnap travellers along our road, making it more difficult to stay here in Opanda.”
Another community dweller who gave her name as Mrs. Beatrice Idu told our reporter that she was planning to pack out of the community in the next two months.
” I was born and brought up here, though I am not from this community. I grew up to marry in this community. But, as I speak with you now, I am fed up with this place. I can’t continue like this. My family will relocate to our community, Aku in Igbo-Etiti local government area of Enugu state in the next two months after I have harvested my farm produce.”
Narrating further, she said, ” I have seen death in recent time here in Opanda. My father’s young sister was brutally murdered by Fulani herdsmen here about two months ago. We are terrified and traumatized. We can’t continue living in fear like this. We can’t”
Nevertheless, at Union Primary school, Opanda, there is virtually no significant number of pupils in the school.
A teacher who spoke to WITHIN NIGERIA under condition of anonymity for fear of victimization explained that majority of their pupils have relocated with their parents to other communities.
“Before now, we have so many pupils in this school. They were so much so that we had to divide the classes into A, B and C.
“But today, as you can see, they are not up to ten in each class. You can also see that our building is collapsing due to neglect.
“The number of our pupils are dwindling because their parents are relocating to other communities. Many of them are going home finally. The only people remaining in Opanda now are those who probably don’t know where to go to.”
However, when our reporter visited Community Primary school, Opanda, some section of the school block has pulled off.
The headteacher, Mrs. Eunice Okoye was no where to be found. But, one of the teachers who spoke under anonymity WITHIN NIGERIA narrated that she no longer stayed at Opanda due to insecurity in the community.
According to the teacher, ” many of our teachers have relocated to Nsukka town due to insecurity. They come here twice or once every week when they feel that there is relative security.”
Asked how the situation is affecting the education sector in the community, the teacher told our reporter that “as I speak with you now, our pupils can’t compete favourably with other pupils in other council areas like Nsukka and Igbo-Etiti. We come here twice a week because we are not safe staying in this community.
“Our community has a peculiar case of insecurity and our government seemed not to be so much interested in tackling the situation.”
At Welfare Secondary school, Opanda, there was no meaningful number of students in the school.
One of the teachers told our reporter that the situation is gradually getting out of hands.
“We are daily loosing our students to relocation of their parents to other communities. It has not been funny at all. We are living in palpable fear.”
Narrating further, he stated that ” five parents were murdered last two months in one night in this community. Some of them were from Aku community but have lived all their lives here. This instilled fear in many of the parents who parked their properties and ran away from the community.”
WITHIN NIGERIA gathered that the principal of the school was transfered to Uzo-Uwani Secondary School, Adani in the same local government area last month and the new principal couldn’t be reached by our reporter.
However, when our reporter visited the traditional ruler of Ukpabi community, HRH Igwe John Akor for his comment, he was not in his palace.
One of the community dwellers told WITHIN NIGERIA that he has travelled out of the community for over two weeks now.
All efforts to get the reaction of the Executive Chairman of Uzo-Uwani local government area, Hon. Celestine Chukwudi Nnadozie proved abortive as he was not picking his calls.
However, one of his media aides, Solomon Gwiyi explained that “the council boss held Sensitive Indoor Meeting which lasted for hours with Heads of security Agencies in the rural council which include DPOs of Umulokpa, Ukpabi-Nimbo and Adani.
“Military commander in the LGA, head of Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), head of Federal Road Safety Commission and head of Department of State Security Services (DSS), all in the LGA.
“The LG Chairman equally grilled members of the neighborhood watch in Ogboli development centre who were in attendance during the special security session which was held at the council secretariat in Umulokpa.
“Hon. Nnadozie however, charged them to rise to the occasion of securing the Ukpabi-Opanda-Adani road or face the consequences.”