The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, on Tuesday confirmed that ten out of the eleven herdsmen allegedly kidnapped over the weekend at Ogbene, Ochuche in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State, have been found and rescued.
Southeast Chairman of the Association, Alhaji Giddado Sadik who disclosed this in a chat with TNC correspondent, also said some of the over 300 cows taken were also recovered while others may have strayed in the forest.
The gunmen who kidnapped the herdsmen, had demanded 4 million naira and an AK-47 Gun as ransom for their release.
According to Alhaji Sadik, the suspects however, are yet to release the first victim they kidnapped, who is the owner of the cattle.
“What I can tell you is that ten of the kidnapped persons were found in Ochuche forest with some cows.
“We are yet to find the first person they kidnapped.
“Remember that around 1pm on Friday, they attacked the camp of the herders and took one person.
“They later called the victim’s family to demand N4 million and an AK-47 gun, failure of which, they threatened to kill the man after 5 hours.
“Later that night, they invaded the camp again and kidnapped 10 persons.
“It was yesterday that we saw the 10 persons and some of the cows but we haven’t seen the first man they kidnapped, for which they made demands,” he said.
The Southeast Miyetti Allah leader, however did not say whether the ransom was paid to the kidnappers.
Alhaji Sadik who attributed the issue to lack of communication between the communities and the cattle breeders, urged the government to close the communication gap for peace and harmony among the people.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra, Mr Arinzechukwu Awogu, has said no herdsman was kidnapped nor cows rustled in the area.
Awogu stated this in a statement issued in Awka and made available to newsmen.
He described as misleading, the statement credited to the Southeast Chairman, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Alhaji Sadik, that 11 herdsmen were kidnapped and over 300 cows rustled.
He explained that there was a misunderstanding between farmers in Okija, in Ihiala LGA, and the herdsmen, which made the herders to flee the area to safety.
Awogu stated that herders, who abandoned their cows to take refuge, later returned to recover them when calm returned to the area.
He added that he was personally involved in restoring normalcy in the area, in conjunction with the leadership of MACBAN.
He, therefore, wondered why a case of kidnap and rustling would be reported in the media.
Narrating what happened, he stated that some unidentified persons from Okija Community had issues with some herdsmen but this had nothing to do with Ogbaru LGA.
“It later spilled to Obene farm settlement on the Ogbaru side of the boundary, which made both farmers and herders in the farm settlement scamper to safety.
“I spoke with the chairman of MACBAN, with one Musa and a number of others, and I was physically present to help locate those that ran for safety.“And as at 11.30pm on Saturday, all the cows had rejoined with their herders.
“So, which 300 cows went missing?
“We should be patriotic Nigerians and stop creating tension when none exists.
“I think we owe a duty to our country to always project the truth and not sensationalise sensitive issues,” Awogu stated.