Five suspected herdsmen linked with killings in Agadama, Avwon and Okugbe communities of Uwheru Kingdom in Ughelli North Local Government Area of the state have been arrested.
Delta State Police Command, Sunday, confirmed the arrest which is coming, as sources from Ughelli Central Hospital mortuary told Vanguard that autopsy on the eight locals who were killed during the attack, had been completed with the report indicating how the victims were killed.
Recall that the corpses of eight indigenes of the communities were exhumed and taken to Ughelli ‘A’ Division police station en route the Ughelli Central Hospital, following reported attacks on them in their farms by suspected herdsmen.
A staffer of the hospital’s morgue, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “The physical and medical examination was done on all the eight corpses by the pathologist who was specially sent to the hospital by the federal government to come and do the autopsy, following the alarm raised by Delta State government on the killings.
“He was drafted from the Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Asaba through the Federal Ministry of Health and it was confirmed that they all died from multiple gunshots from a rifle.”
Denying reports that the state governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, had paid N900,000 for an autopsy of the eight corpses, the source said: “Not a dime has been paid to the pathologist for the autopsy. He is not even after the money but needs the corpses to be removed from the mortuary because they have already started having an offensive odour in the mortuary environment.
“According to the autopsy report, the corpses were confirmed dead for close to a month without being embalmed. They were decomposing when they were brought in here to the mortuary on February 17. So, you can imagine the level of decomposition that has already gone on the corpses.
“On Saturday here, some persons that came to carry the remains of their father for burial were complaining that it seems the mortuary is not doing proper embalming of the corpses in their position, but we had to quickly tell them that it is not the corpses kept in our possession that are smelling but the ones exhumed from Uwheru.”
When our reporter contacted Sunday Iniovogoma, chairman of Agadama community, on why they were yet to take the remains of their loved ones for burial, he confirmed the completion of the autopsy, saying: “How are we going to carry them for burial when the government is yet to do anything over the matter?
“Is it to bury them that is the issue or to solve the matter of herdsmen that is on the ground?
”They have since completed the autopsy and it was confirmed to us that they died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds as was seen in the bodies. All the bodies are still in the mortuary and we left them there. We are yet to take them.”
On the arrest of the five suspects, a security source said the suspects who are from Patani council of the state, were found inside the Agadama bush where the herdsmen operate.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said upon their arrest inside the bush, they couldn’t give concrete information on their mission in the area and upon scrolling through their phones, the numbers of suspected Fulani herdsmen were found in them.
Confirming the arrest, Hafiz Inuwa, the state Commissioner of Police, while speaking with Vanguard, said investigations into the matter was still ongoing.
Though the CP did not confirm or debunk the claims that the autopsy report is ready, he said: “Investigations into the matter are still on. If the community claims the autopsy has been concluded, are they aware that we have arrested indigenous people that we suspect are passing out information to the herdsmen? They were transferred from Ughelli to the command headquarters.”
Meanwhile, Urhobo Progress Union, UPU, has asked President Muhammad Buhari to muster the moral, practical and constitutional will to stop the criminal activities of armed herdsmen in Urhobo land.
UPU President-General, Olorogun Moses Taiga, who made the call during a visit to Uwheru people over the killings, also read the riot act to all herdsmen in the area, stating that “the lethal attacks and killings of our people by herdsmen will no longer be tolerated. There shall be no room for foreign invaders in Urhobo land.
“The Urhobo nation will never, ever surrender or cede an inch of her territory to any stranger. These suspected killer herdsmen must be stopped. In all of these, it is our hope that none of our people has actually participated in the sale and disposal of Urhobo land to criminal non-natives.
”We urge all Urhobo Kingdoms and communities to take legal steps in revoking the sale and ownership of such land or property identified in their domains.
“We also call for a permanent presence of the military in Uwheru to prevent a recurrence of this sad situation. UPU also joins the call on Delta State government and state House of Assembly to revisit and enact an anti-grazing law.”