Umuahia – The Abia police command and other major stakeholders have agreed on some measures, including banning night cattle grazing, to check clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the state.
The measures were mutually agreed upon at a forum of the stakeholders, organised at the instance of the state police command.
The meeting, which took place at the Police Officers Mess in Umuahia on Monday, was attended by representatives of the police, state government, House of Assembly, Hausa/Fulani, farmers, traditional rulers and local communities, especially those with records of violent clashes.
In a 23-point communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, which was presided over by the Commissioner of Police, Mr Leye Oyebade, the representatives of the herdsmen, farmers and the local communities agreed to co-habit peacefully.
The forum resolved that biometric data of herdsmen coming into any area of the state must be captured and the herdsmen properly screened.
It also resolved that no herdsmen should harass or intimidate any farmer and vice versa.
They further resolved that on no account should any herdsman or anybody carry prohibited firearms or any “lethal” weapons without permit by relevant authorities.
The forum urged cattle owners to restrict their cattle from straying into farms.
It recommended periodic sensitisation of the local communities as well as cattle owners and herdsmen on the need to maintain peace and harmony in their areas.
It urged the community leaders and elders among the herdsmen to adequately monitor the movement and lifestyle of their young ones.
The forum warned that on no account should a farmer or herdsman resort to violence, no matter the level of provocation.
The forum also agreed that all the parties should explore all the available peaceful means, including the peace committees, in resolving any disputes.
The stakeholders made it mandatory for cattle owners to engage sufficient number of herdsmen to ensure effective control of the cattle during grazing.
They discouraged the use of minors as herdsmen.
They further resolved that while herdsmen should restrain their cattle from destroying farmlands, farmers should not deliberately poison any source of water for cattle or persons in the area.
The forum admonished the police and other security agencies in the state to be dispassionate and unbiased in their handling of issues bordering on herdsmen/farmers relationship.
It urged the house of assembly to come up with resolutions to adequately regulate the activities of herdsmen in relations to the farmers in their host communtites.
The forum resolved that traditional rulers and farmers should identify grazing areas, which should attract no payment from the herdsmen, as a temporary measure.
It was resolved that the forum should meet quarterly to review the situation and initiate new template to consolidate on successes recorded.
In an interview with newsman at the end of the meeting, the police commissioner said the forum would help his command to monitor the activities of the herdsmen.
“Today’s meeting was better in identifying new measures and routes to minimize conflict”, Oyebade said.
He charged the local government chairmen to map out specific routes for the herdsmen and their cattle during grazing.