By Vincent Ujumadu, Awka
Anambra State governor, Chief Willie Obiano yesterday declared herdsmen carrying guns as criminals and banned them from passing through the state.
Addressing a security meeting comprising security operatives, traditional rulers, youths and other stakeholders in the 181 communities in the state, Obiano said it was unwise to treat such herdsmen with levity because they are dangerous to society.
According to him, after the last census of herdsmen conducted in the state, there were 77 of them in 2020 and directed the state Commissioner of Police to conduct a fresh census, adding that once the exercise was concluded, the state would no longer tolerate itinerant herders in Anambra State.
He said: “By last year, there were 77 registered herdsmen in the state and I want the CP and the security committee to do a new census. The census will give us their names, phone numbers and their addresses and when we do that it will enable us to know when another herder strolls into the state.
“Any herdsman that carries AK 47 is an armed robber and we will not tolerate herdsmen carrying guns in Anambra. So anytime any of them is seen, he should be arrested because he is not a genuine herdsman.
“We should not allow itinerant herdsmen to come and cause trouble here. The itinerant herdsmen don’t know the terrain and the routes and so should not be allowed to stay here.
“In the past, herdsmen carried only a stick and, perhaps a knife for killing reptiles in the bush. But this recent development of carrying guns shows that there is something behind it. We will not tolerate the carrying of arms by herdsmen in Anambra.
He added that after the census, the real herdsmen should be properly documented and they should be attending our meetings in the state.
Obiano said his administration saw tomorrow when it established the herders/farmers committee as of 2015 when most states did not know that the problem would assume the present dimension, noting that it was the reason the state has not had major challenges between herders and farmers in the state.
The committee, he explained, is made up of the 14 communities where these herders go to all the times, with youth leaders, royal fathers and security operatives.
Obiano added: “In Anambra, I spent a fortune buying vehicles for the security agencies since I became governor, I have bought 562 vehicles for the security agencies and in the last two and half years, security vehicles have been taking fuel free of charge in designated filling stations where the state government pays.
“Before we took this decision, there could be a distress call and the police would say they did not have fuel in their vehicles. Today, every police vehicle you see on the road is fueled by the governor.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Abubarka Adamu, who was represented by the meeting by the Deputy Inspector general, DIG, in charge of the South East, Mr Joseph Egbunike reminded Igbo youths that freedom would not be achieved through violent means, adding that the emerging trend of killing policemen and burning stations would no longer be tolerated.
He identified drugs and cultism as the greatest threat to security and urged the stakeholders to assist the police in curbing the menace in their various communities.
He said:, “Drug and cultism are the greatest challenges we have in Nigeria today. When they take all these things (drugs), they do not know the value of life any longer. That is the problem we have, but it is the responsibility of everybody to ensure that this stops.
“Security is everyone’s business. Don’t rest because if you sleep because what happens in Sokoto may start happening here. Certain things should not be allowed to happen in Anambra as peace and security are the vehicles for any development.”
He said that the IG directed him to commend the enormous contributions of Governor Obiano to security agencies, adding that all his efforts in peacebuilding and development were worthy of emulation.