Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, weekend insisted that no part of the state would be given for the establishment of cattle colony.
This came as Biafra Independent Movement, BIM, warned South East Governors against providing any land for the proposed Cattle Colony in any state of South East, saying it would amount to putting Ndigbo under herdsmen siege.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Emmanuel Uzor, the Governor initiated measures to maintain peace between farmers and herdsmen across the state by engaging traditional rulers and leaders of Miyetti Allah in the area for the purposes of sustaining peace among the two groups.
Uzor said the governor while addressing traditional rulers, presidents of town union and other stakeholders at the Akanu Ibiam International Conference Centre, Abakaliki used the occasion to reiterate his administration’s resolve to sustain peace in all parts of the state, which he believed was a panacea to achieving lasting development for the people of the state.
Part of the statement read: “The traditional rulers are not just custodians of culture and tradition but also part of peace building. They must ensure peace in their localities by first of all identifying the people living in their communities especially the herdsmen. No herdsman is allowed to graze their cattle on our lands and in an event of that, the herdsmen pay the double value of crops damaged and on repeat of such, the herdsmen will be forced to leave the community.
“The cows are dear to the herdsmen same way the crops are dear to the farmers, most especially our belief in sanctity of human life which has been wasted on some areas in the country.
“To ensure security and safety of our people and herdsmen who have lived peacefully with us all these years without problem and to ensure there is no infiltration of killer herdsmen from neighbouring states and countries, traditional rulers are to collate data on herdsmen operating in their communities across the state for easy identification and maintenance of peace. The data should include herdsmen’s names, location and contact phone numbers of their leaders.
“Traditional rulers should hold constant meetings with the herdsmen so that they can identify those from Niger Republic and other areas that foment trouble.
“Governor Umahi is a member of the Presidential Committee headed by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo to reconcile and ensure peace between the farmers and herdsmen across the country and he is doing everything within the armbit of the law to ensure peace in his own state as charity begins at home.”
Meanwhile, BIM has vowed to resist any attempt by any South-East governor to provide land for cattle colony.
BIM made its position known in a statement titled, “Biafra Independent Movement Says No to Cattle Colony in South-East and Any Biafra Land,” issued by its Anambra North Coordinator, Chief Vincent Iloh.
The group said: “Providing land for the Nigerian Federal Government proposed ‘Cattle Colony’ will be tantamount to putting Biafrans under herdsmen siege and perpetual enslavement of Biafra people of Igbo land. The herdsmen have been terrorising the people of South East and other states of Nigeria, when they have no place called their own in such states. One will then imagine what they will do when lands are provided for them for establishing Cattle Colony. Only God will save the people of the state where they will be occupying.
“Giving them Cattle Colony will amount to giving them take off point for unleashing more terror on Nigerians. We are waiting for the South East governor that will provide land for the proposed cattle colony; we will make such governor realise that he did not elect himself. We will resist such a governor with our lives. We will not keep quiet, while the lives of our people are put into jeopardy. No South East Governor will have his way in providing such land for killing our people and putting them in perpetual fear over their lives.”
Governor Rochas Okorocha, said, yesterday that it would be wrong for anybody to link the Fulanis to the killings by herdsmen in the country.
Okorocha defended the Fulanis, when members of Sacred Order of Cherubim and Seraphim led by its Supreme Head, the Prelate His Eminence Solomon Alao, visited him at the Government House, Owerri, as stated in a release by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Sam Onwuemeodo.
On whether the Imo State Government has created a cattle colony, proposed by the Federal Government, Okorocha, said there was a cattle market in the state and not a cattle colony, stating that the state government encouraged indigenes to go into cattle business because it was lucrative and that government would continue to support them with provision of ranches.
The governor also said it was absolutely wrong to associate the Fulanis with the killer-herdsmen, explaining that the herdsmen who kill should be treated as criminals, and should not be used to stigmatise the Fulanis, whose men and women had largely contributed to nation-building.
“The fact remains that no one in this country has the right to take another person’s life in whatever disguise. For herdsmen to kill anybody is not right and that must be condemned,” he stated.