By Sam Eyoboka
AGBARHO—CHRISTIAN leaders on the platform of Association of Niger Delta Bishops have said that monarchs in the region, who collect foreign currency and assign lands to Fulani herdsmen, were endangering the life of their subjects.
They asserted that the indiscreet action has to increasing emergence of Hausa-Fulani neighbourhoods in the region, indicating that the herdsmen have overpowered the natives in many communities they were allocated land, and causing uncontrollable crisis. In a seven-point communique issued after a meeting at Agbarho Ughelli North Local Government Area, Delta state, signed by the state chairman, Bishop Isaac Etidia, the clerics averred that the region was deliberately and steadily being threatened by the activities of Fulani herdsmen.
“There is a community in Uhweru, Ughelli North local government known for the production of groundnuts, but could not produce groundnuts, last year, because of activities of herdsmen, who were alleged to be raping young girls, and even pregnant women.”
They cited another instance of an emerging Fulani settlement at Agbarha Otor in Ughelli North, where nobody could enter for fear of herdsmen illegally occupying part of the town.
“Armed herdsmen usurping authority over the rightful owners of farmlands is unacceptable, we condemn it out rightly,” they said.
The communique added: “It is a grave threat to the peace and security of the South- South for traditional rulers to accept financial inducement in exchange for frequent unrest and devastation of farmlands in their areas.
Recalling that a pastor narrowly escaped alive when he went to preach in one of the settlements recently, the bishops grumbled about the growing activities of ritualists and cannibals in the state, saying Nigerians should be careful and prayerful about such unholy activities.
Furthermore, they condemned illegal collection of levies for stickers on commercial vehicles by persons purportedly acting for government, saying that a member of the association travelling from Lagos to Warri was driven to a Police Station because the driver failed to produce a newly introduced sticker that costs N15, 000.
According to the Bishops, “If some of these demands are illegal as we suspect, the government must wake up to its responsibility by arresting and prosecuting all those behind the racket forthwith.”