Less than three weeks after Eze Patrick Okechukwu passed out of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), death gave him a close kiss. Few days after he returned from Jigawa State, where he did his one year mandatory national service, armed herdsmen invaded his community, Nimbo in Uzo uwani LGA, Enugu State and chopped his body with a sword.
Over 20 people died in the gruesome attack, which left scores of victims bedridden with gunshot and machete wounds.
Eze, a graduate of Geology and Mining from the Enugu State University (ESUT) was in his father’s house when the assailants walked in. Seeing them with machetes and guns, he dashed out of the house but they went after him into the bush. His struggle to escape was halted by a shrub that cut his two legs and threw him on the ground. His attackers drew their swords in fury, cutting his hands, head, legs and left him for dead.
When Sunday Sun visited him at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Enugu, where he was referred for treatment, he lay in pains, wrapped in bandages all over his body. Looking frail and helpless, tears dropped from his eyes intermittently, as he nodded towards this reporter in greeting. He struggled to say a few words, biting his lips to suppress the pain from his aching wounds. With great difficulty, he said:
“It was a horrible experience. I saw the face of death. They cut me like wood and left when they thought I had died.” Efforts to engage him in further conversation were not fruitful as he quietly closed his eyes in pain.
His mother and other relatives, who had been waiting in anxiety at the hospital, recounted that the assailants were armed with sophisticated weapons.
“They almost killed my son. Only God saved him. He was chased into the bush where they overpowered him and descended on him with machetes on his head, hands, legs and back. It was at the same spot that they killed three persons, including a 70-year-old man. They thought my son was dead and left him. Later, my son was rescued and put in a wheelbarrow from the bush to the main road. He was rushed to Nsukka in a pool of blood,” she added.
It was gathered that the herdsmen spared women and children during the attack. One of the women that came face to face with the herdsmen told Sunday Sun that they ordered her back to her house, assuring her that they would not hurt women and children. She said the assailants numbered about 15, explaining that about five of them were herdsmen, while others looked robust.
A reliable source said the herdsmen went into the premises of St Marys Catholic Church, but when they saw that the people were mostly women, they vandalized the louvers and other itmes and left without touching the women.
A former councilor of Nimbo Ward 2 and his father were the first victims. The councilor and his old father were stabbed repeatedly with swords. The old man died on the spot but his son was rushed to the hospital, where he is responding to treatment.