By Jethro Ibileke/Benin
Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has warned that there would be no room for cattle herders to bear assault rifles and other dangerous weapons in the state.
The governor made the remark on Tuesday at the Palace of the Iyase of Udo, His Royal Highness, Patrick Igbinidu, when he led heads of security agencies in the state on a fact-finding visit to Udo, Ovia south-west local government area of the state.
Obaseki who stated that his administration will not politicise security issues in the state, noted that efforts are being taken to isolate and deal with the issues as they emerge, so as to provide lasting security to communities across the state.
“We are on a fact-finding tour around some parts of the state today to access the security situation particularly as it relates to farmers and herders’ conflicts in the state.
“As a government, we do not believe that we should politicise security. It is important that we get the facts right and understand what exactly is going on. We had reports about the crisis or impending crisis around this axis.
“We have also had all sorts of anxieties. Well, I will call them speculations on social media about herdsmen being pushed off from neighboring states into this area and the escalating crisis or impending crisis,” Obaseki said.
According to him, “We have had situations that have resulted in conflicts between herders and farmers. Our position is that we have to manage this crisis carefully. Like I said, we should not politicise the issues of herdsmen in our society.
“We do not accept the situation whereby anybody will be herding cattle with AK-47 rifles and other dangerous weapons. We also understand that there are bandits and criminals who pretend to be herders but undertake criminal activities such as kidnapping in the name and guise of being herdsmen.
“I have always argued that we should separate these people and deal with each one accordingly. Today, we are here to undertake assessments ourselves and to assure the people of Ovia South West of adequate security being provided by the government to protect the people.”
The governor disclosed that his government is doing everything possible to provide adequate security to protect the lives and property of the people, adding that the security structure of the state has been rigid and revamped.
“We will not also accept the situation where people want to use the current security challenges to destabilise our country. We have no other country. Every country has its own challenges but they look for ways to resolve these challenges.
“We have major security challenges in the country as well as the whole of the Sahara region. I think leadership in this country should be responsible and ensure that we focus on the specific crisis, some of which is not anybody’s doing.”
“Some of the crisis we have in the sub-continent today has to do with environmental changes. We should all come together and look for ways to confront these emerging security problems and not to begin to take it out of context because of cheap political gains to create crisis in the country,” he added.
Earlier, the Iyase of Udo, HRH Patrick Igbinidu, said that the security challenges in his community have been on for a very long time.
According to the Monarch, “Farmers always complain about the activities of the herdsmen. When I received such reports, I had to call both parties to resolve the issues immediately. We have been on it for a very long time.”
At a town hall meeting, Obaseki assured the people that his administration would protect residents in the state as he is governor for all.
He urged “the Fulani community to collaborate with the government and security agencies to fish out criminals.
He added that his administration will create an area where the cattle will go regularly to eat, as they must not go to peoples’ farms, noting that this will stop cattle from moving round the community including in farmlands.
The State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Philip Agbadu, assured of the readiness of his men in ensuring peace in the troubled areas in the state.
“I urge Fulani leaders to ensure that children are not allowed to follow the cattle for grazing as they may not be able to control them,” Agbadu said.
Earlier in his remarks, the leader of Fulani community in the area, Alhaji Muhammad Buhari, expressed appreciation to the governor for the fact-finding mission to the area.
Buhari noted that the Fulani community in the area are peace-loving people and has lived in the community for years and his people will always support peaceful atmosphere.