Fear engulfed Agu-Awka area of Awka, capital of Anambra State, yesterday, over alleged threats by Fulani herdsmen; to attack residents after one of them was declared missing in the area.
Already, residents, especially those at Odera Estate, have started evacuating their families.
In a swift reaction, yesterday, the State Police Command dismissed reports of any planned reprisal by herdsmen and urged the people go about their normal businesses, describing the reports as handiwork of mischief makers.
Regardless, it was gathered the people of the area started fleeing the area on Sunday, after herdsmen, numbering about 40, stormed the estate and threatened to come for war over one of them who was allegedly attacked by the vigilante in the estate on Saturday night and whom they have not seen since then.
A resident of the estate, who declined to be named said: “Trouble started Saturday when one of the cattle rearers had disagreement with the vigilante who tried to stop him from taking his cattle across the residential estate and he cut one of the vigilante on the hand with his matchet and a fight ensued and he, in turn, was wounded.
“On Sunday, about 40 Hausa cattle rearers stormed the estate, protesting that they were looking for their brother and that they would retaliate.
“It is already causing serious fear in the area and people are already fleeing their houses; for fear of attack.”
But, the state Police/Public Relations Officer, Haruna Mohammed (SP) of the Command countered in a statement.
“The publication is definitely a figment of the imagination of mischief makers.
“It was probably orchestrated by those elements who are not happy with the prevailing peace in the state, which the law enforcement agencies, in collaboration with well-meaning individuals, are working assiduously to maintain.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the state is enjoying a harmonious relationships between farmers and herdsmen who usually resolve any dispute amicably, through an existing channel laid down by the state government, which comprises law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders.
“The public is, therefore, urged to disregard this rumour and go about their lawful duties…”