James Onyimba, traditional prime minister of Ugwuleshi in Awgu local government area of Enugu state, has narrated how two monarchs from the area spent 38 hours in police cell over slain cows.
Onyimba narrated the ordeal on Wednesday in Enugu while testifying before the panel of inquiry into the the suspected herdsmen killing of people and destruction of property in Nimbo community.
He gave the name of the traditional rulers as Paulinus Ikpo of Onoli Awgu and Alo Okeke of Umuhu village.
He said residents of the community were accused of killing four cows belonging to Adamu, a Fulani herdsman, whose cattle graze in the area.
The prime minister said sometime in March, the monarchs went to the police area command in Oji River to intercede for their subjects, but were thrown into cell.
“The owner of the cows reported the matter to the Area Command in Oji River and the police along with the cattle breeder insisted on the payment of N400, 000 as ransom,” he said.
“On the day our people were mandated to make the payment, the monarchs only went with N200, 000 as they were not able to raise the complete ransom.
“The then area commander insisted that the complete sum must be paid and detained them in the cell.”
Onyimba said when their subjects got wind of the information that their traditional rulers were in cell, they ran around to borrow to make up the money.
“It was not easy for our people to raise the remaining balance but before we could do, 38 hours had already lapsed,” he said.
He said the monarchs were subsequently released following the payment of the ransom.
Onyimba accused security operatives of being biased in handling issues between herdsmen and farmers in the state.
According to him, shortly after this incident, more than 10 acres of farmland were completely ravaged by cattle belonging to the herdsmen.
“When the matter was taken to the same police station, the owner of the cattle only agreed to pay N70,000 even when the destruction was valued over N2 million,” he said.
“The police eventually allowed him to get away without paying anything.”
Onyimba appealed to the government to set up security posts, especially in the communities at the boundaries of the state as most residents no longer go to farm because of fear.