Four feared dead in community, herdsmen clash in Cross River
• Kogi set for biometric database of Fulani
• CAN youth wing urges Lalong to sign anti-grazing bill
• Abia plans to check menace via dedicated telephone lines, legislation
Four persons were reportedly killed on Tuesday in a clash between suspected herdsmen and residents of Ito community in Odukpani Local Council of Cross River State. Police spokesperson in the state, Irene Ugbo, however downplayed the severity of the conflict. She did not confirm if it actually involved Fulani herdsmen.
“We have heard about it. Right now, we have sent men there. The area is calm. It is not a bad situation. There are men on ground to make sure nothing happens,” she said.
A source in Ito alleged that the herdsmen and their cattle invaded the community, saying: “We resisted them and they opened fire on us. We did not sustain any casualty. We chased them away. Four of them were brought down. Some of them later came back with some armed military men and tried to rescue their cattle that were scattered everywhere in the community. Our women and children took refuge in neigbouring Ono Ito community.”
However, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Christian Ita, stated that a bill designed to control the activities of herdsmen is currently before the state House of Assembly and would soon be passed into law.The incident comes about five years after the state government in a gesture of sympathy received Fulani herdsmen following clashes with people in Benue State.
Governor Ben Ayade had, following the incident, ordered the immediate deployment of security operatives to the area.He blamed the anti-grazing law in Benue State, saying it had put pressure on communities along its border, and called for the assistance of the Federal Government.
“There has been a mass exodus of Fulani herdsmen to Cross River. This has been exacerbated by changes in climatic condition. Grass in the North is getting dryer. The impact is what resulted in the incident yesterday between the herdsmen and Ugaga community, leading to loss of lives.
“We have lived with the herdsmen peacefully over time. But the passage of the anti-open grazing law and its full implementation in Benue State is having effect on us. The farmers feel a deep sense of loss with the continuous grazing on their economic crops while the herdsmen are desperately searching for pasture to sustain their cattle.”
Yesterday, the Abia State Commissioner for information, John Okiyi Kalu, disclosed that the state would soon have dedicated telephone lines for use by persons or communities threatened by cattlemen. Also, in Kogi State, the government says it has proposed a biometric database to identify the genuine Fulani in the state.
Special Adviser to Governor Yahaya Bello on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Abubakar Ohere, who stated this at a meeting of Kogi State Council of Chiefs, said: “This will help in identifying the genuine Fulani in Kogi State. Strangers and miscreants who enter communities under the guise that they are Fulani and later go ahead to threaten peace and security would be exposed.”
Ohere also urged administrators in the 21 local councils of the state and traditional rulers to integrate the Fulani in their communities.
In another development, the National President of Youth Wing of Christian Association of Nigeria (YOWICAN), Daniel Kadzai, in a statement urged Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, to urgently sign into law the anti-open grazing bill.
Kadzai, who insisted that the association would not sit back and watch herdsmen murder innocent persons, said: “Your duty as governor is to protect your people against intimidation, harassment and killings by any group or individuals.” He said there must be no going back on the anti-grazing law.
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