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Criminal herdsmen: South-East states raise forest guards

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By Anayo Okoli, Peter Okutu & Chinonso Alozie

ENUGU—FOLLOWING the decision of the South-East governors to set up forest guards to check the destructive and criminal activities of some herdsmen and their cattle, the state governments have commenced moves to actualise the objective.

Armed herdsmen

Currently, Enugu State is recruiting people from the local councils to constitute members of the guard.

Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has directed the 17 local council chairmen in liaison with relevant stakeholders in their communities to engage 100 able-bodied men from each council to constitute the guards.

Already, some communities are said to have submitted their nominees to their council chairmen for compilation.

In Imo, the state government said it had started using hunters.

Special Adviser on Security to Governor Emeka Ihedioha, Mr Raymond Nkemdirim said that for some time now, the hunters have become significant in the fight against crimes in the state, hence the decision to use them as forest guards.

Nkemdirim also denied the allegation by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, that the state government had donated land to the Federal Government for Ruga.

His words: “We already have a Hunter Welfare Association, HWA; we are trying to work with them. Already, we have been using them. In July, when the Police carried out a raid in Ohaji, it was a hunter who saw the suspicious den of the kidnappers that alerted the Police.

“Ever since, in fact, before even the South-East governors came up with that resolution, we have been benefiting from the hunters. What we just need to do is to formalise the existing structure.

“We are going to formalise it and it will become a strong structure that we will be using to address the issue of insecurity and herdsmen. The structure is already there and we are working with them already.”

Also read: Miyetti: South-East govs not giving in to blackmail over vigilance plan – Umahi

We‘ll key in soon—Abia

Abia State government is yet to put in place its own but it has indicated strong interest to have it to complement other security arrangements on the ground to secure the state more.

Chief Press Secretary to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, Mr Onyebuchi Ememanka said the government will constitute the forest guards in due course.

We don’t need forest guards—Anambra govt

However, the Anambra State Government said it has no need for forest guards as it already has strong security measures against criminals and activities of herdsmen.

According to the Commissioner for Information, Mr Don Adinuba, the state has not commenced moves to constitute a forest guard “probably because we don’t have security challenges like other states. We have a security arrangement that has been very effective. If other states had borrowed that from Anambra, their security challenges wouldn’t have been much.

“In dealing with herdsmen, we had a committee set up years ago to handle that matter and it has been effective. If the herders destroy farm crops, they will be penalised and if a member of a community kills a cow, he will be made to pay for it: it has been fair and just.”

We already have forest guards—Umahi

On its part, Ebonyi State government, yesterday, restated its commitment towards the protection of the lives and properties of her citizens.

Governor David Umahi, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Emma Uzor, said: “We already have forest guards in the place of Neighbour-hood Watch, and we have no business with Ruga.”


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