Residents of the Uturu community in the Isuikwuato Council Area of Abia State on Thursday blocked Okigwe – Uturu – Isuikwuato Road, protesting against the high rate of kidnapping of students and motorists in the area by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
It was gathered that between Monday and Wednesday, no fewer than 10 persons, mainly students were abducted along Okigwe -Uturu Road and one killed by criminals suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
On Wednesday, Abia State government confirmed an attack on a shuttle bus carrying students, in which the driver was reportedly shot dead.
On Monday, seven students of Abia State University (ABSU) were kidnapped along the same route.
There are reports that students of ABSU are being kidnapped virtually on a daily basis on that route and the situation has gone on for a long time without the security agencies doing anything about it. Security agencies have been accused of rather going after youths and labelling them members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), while suspected herdsmen continue to rain terror on the community.
But the residents of Uturu, who took to the road, protesting against incessant abductions and killing of students, called on the Imo and Abia state governments to take urgent actions to curb the menace.
Vanguard reports that the protest began along Uturu Road close to Marist Brothers Secondary School.
Protesters who spoke to the newspaper narrated how natives of Uturu and students of the Abia State University, located in the community, were abducted and made to pay millions of naira as ransom while others lost their lives to the hoodlums.
The protesters lamented that the situation is affecting the economy of their community and called for security agencies to redouble efforts to end the menace.
One of the protesters said, “The road has become a source of terror for motorists and passengers who are mostly students. Many people including the indigenes of Uturu community have been kidnapped and ransoms were paid while others lost their lives.
"There are more than six security checkpoints along the road, but people are still being kidnapped. The Imo state government and its Abia counterpart must urgently take action to end the kidnapping and killing of people on Okigwe – Uturu- Isuikwuato Road. We are no longer safe. Many people have been killed. No day passes without these hoodlums kidnapping motorists, who are mostly students.”
Abia State government had through a government special announcement, on Wednesday, condemned the recent attacks, promising to get to smoke out the terrorists.
The statement was signed by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Dr Eze Chikamnayo.
It read, "It has been informed of yet another incident of senseless kidnapping and unfortunate death of innocent citizens especially students around the ABSU-Uturu-Okigwe axis and Umunneochi-Ihube area occasioned by the criminal activities of mindless terrorists.
"We, as a government, are saddened by this ugly development around our boundaries with Imo State and are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that normalcy is quickly restored.
"However, we may not for operational reasons be able to go into further details at this time so as to safeguard the processes already put in place by our hard-working security agencies and government authorities."
He, however, appealed to the residents to remain calm and maintain peace.