Interview: My Ordeal with Herdsmen, and How they cut my Hand

Wuaherna Zeku, a female farmer speaks with JOHN CHARLES through an interpreter at the Festival Medical Centre, Apir, Makurdi, Benue State, on how she was ambushed by suspected fulani herdsmen who chopped off her hand on her farm

What is your name?

My name is Mrs Wuaherna Chekum.  I hail from Gboogyo village but now live in Udei in the Guma Local Government Area of Benue. I relocated from the interior village to the nearby Udei communityh because Fulani herdsmen attacked the community sometimes ago and we were displaced following the attack.

Where were you attacked?

I was attacked at Gboogyo village in the Guma Local Government Area, which is a border community between Benue and Nasarawa states.

How did it happen?

I left Udei to the interior village of Gboogyo on Friday last week, to inspect my melons and beniseed. At the time I got to the farm, nothing suggested that herdsmen were lurking around. So, I went round the melon farm, I went further to inspect the beniseed farm. It was when I got to the beniseed farm that I discovered that cows had strayed into the farm. I saw their footprints and other traces that they had destroyed the beniseed.

So what did you do?

I finished going round the farm and I decided to excrete when I heard the mooing of some cows. Before I could adjust myself to go back to the farm, suddenly I noticed some movements behind me as if someone was trying to grab me.   Immediately I turned to see who could be the person, the man gave me a deep cut on my forehead. I started bleeding severely and I lost control of myself and fell down.

When I regained consciousness, it seemed to me that my assailant was still up in front of me. Therefore, I tried to grab the person. But after I thought I had seized the person, I discovered that what I grabbed was the part of my hand that had been cut off. I could not get the cutlass but I held half of my hand.

Was there nobody around to help you?

It was when I held unto the part of my hand that was cut off that it occurred to me that I should shout for help. By then I had started running and screaming for help. All this while, blood was gushing out of the hand and I was in serious pain. However, I was trying to use the last strength in me to escape from the scene. I held tightly to the part of my hand that was cut off and I was running and screaming along the bush path but I discovered that the hand fell off from the one I used to hold it.

But it got to a point where I could no longer run. So, I fell down and I started calling people around for help, begging them to also assist me to search for the hand that had fallen off. Some persons came to find out who was crying.  I was down and crying but I could not hear the mooing of the cows again.

I heard the cows mooing everywhere in the farm but after the attack, I didn’t hear them again. When this happened, I lost my voice and couldn’t shout again.

Are you saying that there was no one around the farm that day?

I cannot really say, but before I was attacked, I saw cows eaten my beniseed.  My intention was to go and check other farms close to mine and inform the farmers that cows were around the area and that, they should come and see what the herdsmen and their cows had done to my farm.

Is it true that the herdsmen had relocated from those areas?

That is not true. Since the beginning of this year to this moment, the herdsmen have been moving around that area and so we couldn’t go back to live there again after we relocated from the village to Udei. If you remember, all the areas were invaded   sometimes 2018 and the communities were sacked. Something has to be done to stop this.

What do you want government to do about it?

(Sobbing)I am appealing to the Federal Government to address the problem of insecurity in the country so that farmers like us can go on with our farming activities. State government should also come to my aid because I have no money to treat myself and fix my hand. Also, the fear of Fulani herdsmen attacks is affecting us. Framers can no longer access their farms. I have seven children who are students. Catering for them with only one hand would be very difficult.

Where is your husband?

My husband went out to look for money for my treatment. But the problem is that he has no other job except farming, and since, 2018 we have been denied access to our farms. We used to sneak to the farm and do a little work before running back for fear of the herdsmen. Now just common instrument the hospital said it will use to check my temperature (thermometer). They asked me to pay N250.00.  I couldn’t afford it. The people here in the ward can bear me witnesses, I plead that  government should assist me in the treatment.

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