*Decry killing of 36 persons in Ethiope, Delta State
* Move to reposition NOA
By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA- The House of Representatives Thursday asked security agencies to criminalize open grazing due to its concomitant threat to citizens’ lives, property and food production, pending when laws were enacted to promote such practices.
The resolution followed the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon. Ben Rollands Igbakpa, member representing Ethiope East/Ethiope Federal Constituency of Delta State at Thursday plenary.
Igbakpa told the House that 36 persons including four Lecturers were killed between 2014 and 2018 in his constituency as a result of the open grazing.
He also stated that his constituents who were predominantly agrarian and well known for production of all stable food driven from cassava and yam had been subjected to frustration as they felt insecure in their farms.
The lawmaker also said that Delta State University is also situated in Abraka in Ethiope East Local Government Area and provides enabling environment for many Lecturers to engage in farming on part time basis.
“In this year 2019, a total of eight persons have been gruesomely murdered for daring to insist that the herdsmen should not graze on their farms of which, not a single prosecution of the culprits to serve as a deterrent have been recorded.
“On Saturday, 12th July, 2019, the entire Local Government Area of Ethiope East woke up into mourning and grief as their farm lands of over 100 hectares being cultivated with cassava, yam, maize and plantain was brought down to ruin by these dare devil herdsmen, bearing arms and threatening to deal with anybody who come around to challenge them, with a claim that they own Abuja even as they operate in Delta State.
“It is worthy of note that Ovie Village in Delta and Ewosi village which is a border town to Edo and Delta State have been forcefully abandoned by the communities to herdsmen to enable them carry out their activities for fear of the indigenes’ lives due to incessant killings of its people and destruction of their crops. The continued nomadic activities into the communities of Abraka, Eku and environs for grazing are a total call for anarchy which cannot be tolerated,” he said.
Adopting the motion, the House urged the security agencies including Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police, Department of State Security and Nigerian Civil Defence and Security Corps (NSCDC) to as a matter of urgency midwife a meeting of stakeholders in Ethiope Federal Constituency and leaders of the herdsmen with the view to douse the tension and find a lasting solutions to the recurring security issue.
Similarly, the House also mandated its Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethnic and Values to conduct a hearing on the challenges facing the National Orientation Agency with a view to charting a way forward to enable the Agency fulfill its statutory mandate.
The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon. Olajide Olatubosun (APC-Oyo) who frowned at the failure of the agency to effectively discharge its statutory functions over the past 20 years of democratic dispensation.
“The Mass Mobilization for Self-Reliance, Social Justice and Economic Recovery (MAMSER), as the forerunner of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), even under a military dictatorship, effectively inspired Nigerians to attain appreciable level of awareness and constructive encasement in national issues on consistent basis with attendant citizenry training and awareness campaigns along with abiding jingles and signature tones.
“The House is aware that most of the current national controversies that are adversely affecting our democratic growth and national development stem from ethno-religious sentiments that are fuelled by pathetic deficit of public discuss and policy contestations which have now assumed disturbing dimension on regular basis.
“The House observes that strategic awareness and enlightenment campaigns on government policies by the Agency in line with its foremost objectives to ensure that Federal Government programmes and policies are better understood by the public and mobilize favourable opinions for such programmes and policies amongst others, will serve as platform for discouraging the current wave of agitations among Nigerians.
“The Agency by its statutory mandate is not supposed to be a government propaganda machinery, but rather a veritable platform for collective engagement and dialogue that will give meaning to the political objectives enunciated in section 15(4) of the 1999 Constitution that the state shall foster a feeling of belonging and involvement among the various people of the Federation, to the end that loyalty to the nation shall override sectional loyalties,” Hon. Olatunbosun noted.
The motion, when subjected to a voice vote, got overwhelming support.