RAPHAEL EDE writes on the shocking story of an Enugu cow dealer who lost 30 cattle and a herder to gunmen
When some people are confronted with a tragedy or a disaster, what readily comes to their mind is to commit suicide or to die so that they will not live to bear with such unwholesome and unexpected happening.
The late foremost writer and author, Chinua Achebe in his epic novel, Things Fall Apart, painted Okonkwo as a man who saw bad days but outlived it to tell his tale of woes. According to Achebe, that particular year, rain refused to fall and Okonkwo borrowed some seed yams to augment the existing ones. It happened that rain did not come early and when it eventually came, it came in torrents that the few yams that survived the draught were washed away. Okonkwo who saw it as the worst and memorial year in his life, said that as he survived the year, he would thus survive every other year. “Since I survived that year, I’ll survive every other year,” Okonkwo declared.
That was exactly what Chief Peter Chukwuani Onyeabo, the highest cow dealer in Ugbawka, Nkanu East Local Government Area of Enugu State seemed to have said after gunmen invaded his compound on January 19, 2022 and shot dead 22 cows on the spot and wounded eight others that eventually died, making 30 cows.
That fateful day, around 5 pm, gunmen who came in a vehicle landed in his compound and started shooting sporadically. This caused great panic and pandemonium in the village and at the end of the day, many cows laid dead and others sustained injuries. The herder from the North who was attending to the cows was also shot dead.
Speaking to news men over the incident, Onyeabo said when he heard the gunshots, he wanted to go out to know what was going on but customers who came to buy cows from his ranch, held him back and said he should wait because they saw cows falling to the ground.
“I was with some of my customers when I heard gunshots. I wanted to go out but my wife and my customers told me not to go out. They shot 22 and eight died of bullet wounds afterwards,” Onyeabo narrated almost shedding tears.
He said that the incident has affected him financially and that he is now in financial straits because since that day, he has been using the surviving cows to replace the ones his customers bought but left in his care until they were ready to use them for burials. and other socio-cultural activities.
The cow dealer said that cow business was their family business which his fathers did and which he inherited from his own father. Onyeabo said when his father died, he had to leave his job in the Nigerian Ports Authority in Port Harcourt in order to continue with the family business of rearing and selling cows from the northern part of Nigeria which the locals call Efi Hausa, Hausa Cows or Fulani cows as against Efi Igbo or Igbo cows, that the local call cows in Igbo land.
The January 19 episode was not the only sordid experience he has had since he started the cow business many years ago. In 2013, cattle rustlers came and carted away 35 cows from his farm. At that time, he thought the world had come to an end but he still survived it. He is regretting that till this day, there had been no trace of the missing cows.
Though he has been in the cattle business for many years, he has never been to the North to buy cows except when his father took him to the North to introduce him to his customers. Since then, he has been buying his animals through waybill and what is more, he does not take his animals to the market but people come to his house in Ugbawka to buy them.
“My father took me to the North where he was buying cows. I don’t go to the market to sell the cows. People have been coming here to buy them from me. Some of them after paying me still keep their cows until they need them for the occasions and functions they bought them for,” Onyeabo explained.
He lamented that he had lost a lot because some of the cows sold for N350,000 to N700,000 each depending on the size.
“As you see me now, I am just hollow. I don’t know how I am going to survive with all those cows killed. The cows were sold for between N350,000 to N700,000 each. I lost thousands of naira to the incident. I am penniless now,” he laments.
Since the incident happened, many sympathisers have been coming to console him. Security men from the army, police and “DSS have all come here to know what happened.”
What pained him more than the animals killed was the northerner that tended to his animals, Mohammed Aralibe, who was popularly called Ogbodo because of the way the natives loved him. Mohammed had been with him for 20 years before he was gruesomely killed.
He said that he was not suspecting anybody or group for the tragedy that befell him because he did not have any quarrels with anybody and said that he did not know what happened to the carcasses of the slain animal.
Onyeabo also recalled how he owned sheep before but now he does not have any left. “I had 200 sheep but today, I don’t have any left. Thieves stole them.”
The cow dealer said that the incident has been brought to the knowledge of the state government and that the state government might do something. According to him, Igwe Emma Ugwu who is in charge of the security committee, will tell the governor what happened to see if the government can render any help to him.
The 62-year-old cow dealer said that some of his children had started showing interest in the cow business and will likely take over from him as he did from his forebears.
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