By Chidi Nkwopara
OWERRI—MEMBERS of Imo State House of Assembly have raised alarm over the menace of herdsmen in Okigwe local government area of the state.
According to a motion on “urgent public importance,” brought before the House by the member representing Owerri Municipal, Mr. Lugard Osuji, farmers in the area were already counting their losses.
“The destruction of crops in people’s farms by cows, is a disturbing development and has already put residents in the affected areas, in fear”, Osuji said.
While saying that the issue was already being managed, the lawmaker urged the state government and all the security agencies operating in the state, to quickly wade into the matter with a view to nipping the problem in the bud.
Supporting the motion, the member for Obowo constituency, Mr. Kennedy Ibe, reasoned that the matter called for urgent attention, “to prevent a repeat of the Benue State experience in Imo State.
“It must be noted that the crisis that pitched herdsmen against their host communities in states like Taraba, Adamawa, Benue and Delta, among others, usually started like the incident in Okigwe”, Ibe said.
Speaking also, the member representing Ideato South constituency, Mr. Ikechukwu Amuka, expressed alarm over the influx of herdsmen and their cows into the state.
“Places like Akokwa in Ideato North and other communities in Ideato South, have also witnessed the menacing presence and activities of cattle rearers from the North. This has often led to confrontation between the herdsmen and the host communities”, Amuka said.
He called on the state government to meet with heads of the Hausa/Fulani settlers in the state, to resolve the brewing crisis.
When the Speaker, Chief Acho Ihim, called for a voice vote, it was unanimously adopted.
Meanwhile, the state Commissioner of Police, CP, Mr. Chris Ezike, has denied knowledge of any attack by herdsmen, in any part of the state.
“There is no such report from anybody, to the police. We held a stakeholders meeting in Okigwe, last month. The much we gathered then, was that herdsmen usually passed through the area during the rainy season”, Ezike said.
Continuing, the CP confirmed that “arrangements are on ground to closely monitor the herdsmen, with a view to properly identify them, know where they are coming from and where they are heading to”.
Mr. Ezike said that “for now, the Command is not aware that herdsmen are menacing any part of the state”.