By Anayo Okoli & Peter Okutu
ABAKALIKI—THE lawmaker representing Ivo State Constituency at the Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Hon. Oliver Osi, yesterday condemned the attack on one of his constituents and farmer, Mr Daniel Ngwoke following a clash between herdsmen and the farmer at Akaeze in Ivo Local Government Area of the state.
He further called on his people to defend themselves in line with the laws of the land as no amount of cow can be compared with the sacredness of human life.
The incident, Vanguard gathered caused hue and cry in the victim’s community as the state government immediately set up a 10-man committee to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the clash and report accordingly.
In a telephone conversation with Vanguard, the lawmaker, who expressed shock at the recent development in his constituency regretted that despite the peace treaty and long-term cooperation that had existed between Ivo people and the herdsmen, the herdsmen had the guts to attack a peaceful farmer in the area.
He called on security agencies to be proactive in combating crimes in the state.
“The attack meted out on the peaceful farmers of Ivo Local Government Area of the state came as a shock to me because, so many measures had been put in place to ensure cooperation and peace between us and the herdsmen. It is like there is something in them that instigates them to cause violence, killings and destruction.
“How can a reasonable person bring in cow into someone’s farmland where he or she have invested lots of money anticipating that the yield would be used to feed his family and boost the economy; and then it would be destroyed by cattle? We are against cattle colony and open grazing in Ebonyi State.
“We cannot allow such act of violence and destruction of property and farm produce to continue in Ivo local government area of the state and perpetrators go scot-free.
“These people should be prosecuted in line with the laws of the land. How can you come into somebody’s land and impose yourself on him or her? I want to call on my people to defend themselves against such impunity in line with the law but also not take the law into their hands. Security agents are behaving as if they are being overwhelmed by the development. They have to live up to the expectation of the people.”
Stay away, Umahi tells herdsmen
Meanwhile, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State yesterday at the EXCO chambers of the Government House, Abakaliki banned herdsmen from entering Ivo Local Government Area, until the completion of the investigation into the recent herdsmen and farmer clashes in the state.
“I am banning herdsmen from entering Ivo Local Government Area until this investigation is completed. I want my security men to carry out my instruction.
“No herdsman should enter the place. No cattle should enter Ivo council area again until this investigation is completed. At the end of the day when the report comes out, my prayer is that they would be alive. This is because whoever that is the first aggressor will go to prison in this state. I will send the person to prison no matter who the person is.
“The National President of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association and his secretary told me something; they said no herdsman was supposed to come from Enugu State to Ebonyi State, without first getting approval from the Ardo of wherever he is coming from.
“The Ardo in charge of where he is coming from must first write a letter to the Ardo of where he is going to in Ebonyi. And the Ardo here must approve his coming. The village head must also agree that the herdsman should come. If the two of them say no, then the herdsman cannot come” he said.
Abia assembly wants herdsmen to pay compensation
In a related development, the Abia State House of Assembly has directed herdsmen to pay compensation to the people of Avonkwu Amaforo Ibeku community of Umuahia North Council of the state for the destruction of their farm land and crops valued at over N5 million.
The Assembly also expressed its readiness to pass the anti-grazing bill before it to stop the destructive activities of the herdsmen.
The resolution of the house followed a “Save Our Soul” petition received from the community, lamenting massive destruction of their crops and farmland by the herdsmen.
On the strength of the petition, the Assembly mandated its committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources to investigate the petition.
The chairman of the committee, Hon. Theophilus Ugboaja, while submitting the report of the committee to the House on Tuesday, explained that members of the committee visited the community to have first-hand information and assessment of the complaint.
He informed the House that his committee discovered from the members of the community that the herdsmen have for several years, occupied the Okata Forest in the community, from where they operated with their cows. According to the report, the community informed the committee that the herdsmen have eight groups occupying the forest, with each group controlling over 60 cows, which accounts for the massive destruction they suffer in the hands of the herders.
According to the report, the community said the activities of the herdsmen had always forced them to harvest their crops prematurely and evaluated the value of the crops damaged during the latest invasion to the tune of N5 million.
After considering the report, the House in its resolution directed the herdsmen to pay compensation to the community based on what the two parties would agree on and also directed herdsmen and their cows to immediately vacate Okata Forest.
The House also directed the Abia State Forest Guards with the collaboration of security agencies to ensure that they vacate the forest, and mandated the Abia State Commissioner of Police to ensure full compliance of the resolution.