• FG vows to deal with perpetrators
Amby Uneze in Owerri
Imo State Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha, has met with the leaders of the Hausa community in the South-east zone over the deaths of Fulani herdsmen believed to have been killed by criminals, as he reassured them of their safety while appealing to them to remain calm and peaceful.
The meeting which took place yesterday at the Government House, Owerri, also saw the family members of the dead Fulani herdsmen in attendance, with the governor also informing that two of those who masterminded the killings had been arrested, assuring that they would be made to face the full wrath of the law.
Also, the federal government stepped into the incessant clashes between the herdsmen and farmers in some parts of the country, with a vow to deal decisively with perpetrators.
Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd) stated this at a one-day stakeholders’ meeting on Pastoralists-Sedentary Farmers’ conflict in Nigeria.
At the meeting with the Hausa community, Okorocha said those who carried out the killings “did not target the Fulani men only. They also killed two Igbo men whose corpses were also exhumed with the bodies of the Fulanis. Criminals carried out the killings and those arrested will be treated as criminals.
“You should not see the incident as a targeted attack on the Fulanis because evidence from the exhumed bodies indicate that two Igbos were in the number of the exhumed bodies. Two of the culprits have been apprehended and will be made to face the consequences of their action. There will be no hiding place for the rest of the hoodlums,” he said.
Okorocha who praised the Hausa community for not taking retaliatory action, urged them to join hands with the government in fighting the criminals to standstill. He reassured them that their safety was of paramount importance to the governors of the South-east zone.
His words: “I commiserate with all of you over the recent murder of five Fulani herdsmen within the Imo/Abia border. Few days ago, I was in Abia State to meet with the governor of that state who is my brother, and we have agreed to put resources together to ensure that such ugly incident does not happen again. We have decided to check the activities of criminals in the border areas.”
“The governor said that though he remains an Igbo man, but he was born and brought up in the North and empowered by the West and could not therefore afford to be a tribalised Nigerian, reiterating that every Nigerian can do business in any part of the country because the country is one.”
Also speaking at the meeting the Brigade Commander of 34 FAB Obinze, Owerri, Brigadier-General Kay Isiyaku, who came with the leaders of the Hausa community, commended the governor for the steps he had taken to ensure that the ugly development did not escalate beyond measure and urged the governor to sustain the peace already existing.
Earlier in his address, the leader of the Hausa community in the South-east zone, Alhaji Gidado Siddiki, also commended the governor for his peace initiatives and also asked that the governor should ensure steady peace between them the stressed their host communities, stressing that though they might have different cultural backgrounds, the fact remained that Nigerians are one.
Siddiki said the actions of the governor since the incident happened had helped a lot, adding that if not the governor’s early intervention the problem would have gone out of hand.
Meanwhile, Dambazau, while insisting that there was the need to resolve the persistent crisis between farmers and herders, he stressed that apart from the insurgents, there were other opportunistic criminal angles to the conflict.
“The rise of the social media and the internet has given scope to non-traditional media outlets which has seen interest groups frame stories surrounding the conflict in ways that have tend to undermine the corporate existence of Nigeria,” he said.
He stressed that clashes between herdsmen and farmers have grave implications for Nigeria’s internal security architecture, adding that the parley was to arrive at a common understanding of the problems underlying the conflict and to harness institutional memory of past policy interventions from the various stakeholders.
“There have been a number of committees and think-thank type investigations into the conflict in the past and it is the intention of the Ministry of Interior to gather these together and note which have been implemented, highlighting the effects and failures of each in order to arrive at narrative and doctrinal certainties,” he said.
The minister assured that subsequent and expanded meeting would be held soon to develop a sustainable and enduring solution to the conflict but warned that such engagement must be devoid of ethnic, religious or partisan agenda which often leads to rancour and sentimental difficulties.
Speaking earlier, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Bassey Okon Akpanyung, regretted that such conflicts have led to the untimely deaths of not just the actors but many innocent Nigerians.
“We have as a nation already lost many lives and we must find a solution to this conflict. It is of a needless nature and we think enough is enough,” he said.