On 30 January, at least two persons were killed in a bloody fight between Fulani herdsmen and members of Ohoro community in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State. The two victims were said to have died of machete wounds.
There were reports that two other members of the community were shot dead by soldiers deployed in the area to restore peace; but the Media Coordinator of the military Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta, Lt Col Timothy Antigha said: “There was no such thing”.
Local sources said trouble started when the herdsmen’s cows strayed into farmlands belonging to the community, and damaged crops. Angered by the trespass and damage, the farmers confronted the nomads. One source said the nomads suddenly attacked two of the farmers with daggers, killing them on the spot.
As news of the incident spread, youths in the community mobilized and went after the killers, in a bid to avenge the killing of their kinsmen; but they were unable to find the fleeing nomads. The youth then turned their anger against all Hausa-Fulani in the community, and sent many of them fleeing the area.
The near breakdown of law and order caused a major traffic gridlock along the Delta-Bayelsa stretch of the East-West Road. Reports of the incident also raised tensions as far as the state capital, Asaba, and other towns with Fulani residents.
This incident, coming at a time when many southerners are already fleeing deadly attacks by Islamist militants in the predominantly Hausa-Fulani far north of the country, could aggravate ethnic and religious relations in the Niger Delta.
However, the JTF said it had taken measures to restore peace in the Ohoro community and other towns in the area. Col Antigha said: “JTF is at the scene. Efforts are being made to calm down nerves with a view to commencing investigations”.