…warns against politicizing farmers, herders crisis
The Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has ordered Fulani herders in some parts of the State to fish-out criminals among them in the interest of peace.
He said this during a fact-finding tour to assess the security situation on Tuesday in Ovia South West Local Government Area of the State where he urged the Council authorities to re-inteoduce the weekly security meeting of Stakeholders from the area.
The Governor who traced the movement of nomadic herdsmen to climate change, appealed to Nigerians to seek ways to manage herders and farmer s conflicts rather than politicising the crisis.
“As a Government, we do not believe that we should politicise the farmers herders conflicts. We understand what exactly is going on.
“We have also had all sorts of anxieties and I what I call speculations about herdsmen and farmers conflicts in the social media and the escalating and impending crisis that our herdsmen been pushed up from neighbouring States into these areas as a criminals.
“But, we evidence of bandits and criminals who pretend to be herders that are involved in kidnappings and other crimes.
“Yes, we have had situations that had resulted in conflicts…Our position is that we have to manage this crisis. Like I said, we should not politicise the issue of herdsmen. We should all accept integration”, he said.
Responding, the leader of Fulani Community in the Local Government, Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, called for investigation into allege killings in the area in providing a data base for lawful herders as part of measures to check criminals in the locality.
Earlier, the His Royal Highness, Patrick Iginidu, the Iyase of N’ Udo, a former Chairman of Ovia North East Local Government Area, Mr. Joseph Amowie, briefed the Governor and the heads of security agencies in the State who were present at the meeting on the challenges of farmers and herders in the area and steps that have been taken to resolve the crisis.
On his part, the State Commissioner of Police in the State, Mr. Phillip Ogbadu, sued for peaceful co-existence among the locals with a caution on herders to streamline their operations towards stamping out human rights abuses and destruction of livelihoods including economic crops.
Speaking in behalf of the elders of traditional leaders of Ovia South West led by the Duke of Oke-Odighi, His Royal Highness, Osaretin Akenzua, former Commissioner in Edo State, Mr. Monday Osaigbovo, appealed to the Governor and the security agencies to flush-out suspected killer herdsmen in their farmland.
He also called for the eviction of the criminal elements laying siege in the forest, and profiling of herders who are into legitimate business.
Addressing the Stakeholders including market women and youths leaders at the area, Governor Godwin Obaseki, allayed their fear, and assured them that his administration is irrevocably commitment to securing lives and livelihoods.
The Governor further hinted that security agents will soon commence operation in the forests immediately, requested for useful information from the people to aid the arrest and prosecution of criminals in the area.
Governor Obaseki, appreciated the traditional rulers in the locality for setting up vigilante to secure the area and warned against the repeat of wanton killings of farmers that occurred in the locality few years ago.
He urged them to promote unity, repeating assertion that “politics must be separated from security, adding that he will not renege on his electoral promises to the people.
According to him, “unfortunately, we are here again. It is usually at this time of the year. We will not allow it to continue.
“Anytime, I get a phone call from you, I make sure that move immediately. I am happy that you have continued to maintain the peace.
“What I am doing now is to make sure that we separate the issue of security from politics.
“We will not accept the issue of criminality in our Communities. We have always lived with herdsmen who look for pasture. And those ones were known and had always acted responsibly because they owned those assets — Cattle. But the ones that we are seeing now clearly as if they are above the law.
“We know that many of them rustle cows and bring to this part so that they can fatten up and sell them.
“Anybody who would want to graze or rear a cattle here must be known to us. They must register with the Community so that there is somebody that we can hold responsible.
“We do not want what happened a few years ago to happen again where the anger spread”, he declared.