Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City and James Sowole in Akure
Following the clash between Fulani herdsmen and local farmers which left one person dead last week in Edo State, the state government has urged both warring parties to maintain peace.
This came as Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, monday raised the alarm that Nigeria was heading towards precipice unless urgent steps are taken to check the trend.
The government warned the group to allow peace reign or face the wrath of the law, as it would neither ban grazing nor farming.
Speaking during a stakeholders’ meeting to find lasting solution to the lingering crisis between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in the state, the state Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, said if not properly managed, the crisis “could escalate beyond what we can manage quietly.”
He vowed that government would prosecute any rapist, kidnapper, rustler who steals people’s cows, adding that listening to all the stakeholders, including royal fathers, farmers, Fulani herdsmen among others, “everybody agreed that rape, robbery, destruction of farms, rustling of cattle are not acceptable.
“In every conflict, there must be an oppressor. Somebody might be blamed, but every conflict can be resolved if all the parties approach the solution with honest intentions, and whatever agreement is reached, we will try to implement it faithfully. That way, there will peace. There will be no war without a quarrel, but what matters is the capacity to resolve the quarrel and continue to live in peace.”
Meanwhile, disturbed by the incessant invasion of farmlands by Fulani herdsmen with its resultant effects on the socio-economic lives of the people, Mimiko has raised the alarm that Nigeria is heading towards precipice unless urgent steps are taken to check the trend.
The governor alerted Nigerians on the situation during an interview with journalists after he held a meeting with members of the state branch of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) in his office, Akure.
The meeting was against the backdrop of the alleged killing of the OPC Coordinator in Akure North Local Government Area, Ayodele Ige, by herdsmen who invaded the farm of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Olu Falae.
The deceased was one of the OPC members hired by Falae to guard against constant grazing on his farm, which had led to destruction of his crops severally.
While appealing to OPC members who said they would have engaged in reprisal but for the intervention of Falae and the governor, Mimiko, said government had put in place a lot of firefighting efforts in the last 48 hours to ensure that there was no retaliatory attack from the group.
“There’s no question about the fact that this is becoming a monster of sort. I’ve had cause to express my views on this and I think we all ignore this menace as a nation. I can see us moving towards a precipice and we must do something about the situation, it’s getting dangerous and the audacity is very disturbing.
“Apart from the challenges this act poses to food security, there’s hardly a farmer in the state who has not had different encounters with these herdsmen.
“It is sad that people are being killed over their own property, and this is a very big challenge for me. I think the way out is for the federal government to collaborate with some states governments in the North to set up big ranches with dams and other facilities, even schools for these herdsmen. If we don’t do this, it will get to a stage that people will begin to defend themselves,” Mimiko said
The governor, who said the matter should not be politicised in whatever manner, hinted that all stakeholders must come together and decide on how to find a lasting solution to the menace threatening the peace of the nation.