BY CHIDI NKWOPARA
OWERRI— The members of Imo State House of Assembly have expressed concern over what they described as the growing menace of Hausa-Fulani herdsmen in the state.
Already, the Donatus Ozoemena-led ad-hoc committee has sent what it called “a clarion call” to the security agencies in the state, complaining about “the menace of Hausa-Fulani herdsmen in Imo State.”
The committee said: “We wish to bring to your notice the brewing tension in some of our communities, which require urgent and concerted effort to stem and avoid an imminent conflagration that will further compound the already charged national security situation.”
Ozoemena, who is the Deputy Speaker, enumerated series of unprovoked attacks on some communities in Owerri West, Ohaji/Egbema and Ngor Okpala local council areas by the nomadic herdsmen, which resulted in the destruction of crops, farmlands, raping of women and girls, as well as killing and maiming of the villagers.
Ozoemena said: “The herdsmen have so far failed to honour the invitation of the House Committee. For the communities, it has been a tale of woes, anguish, pains, humiliation, loss of economic mainstay and insecurity.”
While informing the security agencies that the communities live in fear in their homeland, the Deputy Speaker equally warned that the youths are getting restive and spoiling for war.
He said: “If nothing is done and urgently, there could be outbreak of hostilities and bloodshed. As a responsible House, we cannot sit by and watch the situation spiral out of control and our communities turned into a theatre of war.”
The Committee expressed concern that these herdsmen go about with sophisticated weapons like AK-47 rifles in clear contravention of the law on possession of firearms, stressing that this complaint should not be treated with levity.
The lawmakers said: “At a time when the nation is grappling with the challenges posed by the Boko Haram insurgents, we are worried that a band of terrorists may have infiltrated and hide under the guise of herdsmen to carry out their nefarious and vicious activities.
“We will not allow our communities to be turned into save havens for terrorists.”
The lawmakers warned that they “can no longer condone a situation where our wives and daughters are sexually assaulted and humiliated, our people are maimed, killed and condemned to starvation.”