By Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
As opposition mounts over the proposed plan to establish grazing reserves in every state of the federation, a socio-political and cultural organisation, Igbo Improvement Union (IIU/Oganiru Ndigbo), at the weekend, urged the federal government to exclude the entire Igbo land from the project.
The group made the call at the end of its two-day conference held in Umuahia during which it deliberated on national issues and how they affect the lives of Ndigbo and their socio-economic affairs.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the conference, the IIU explained why it would not want Igboland to be included in the national grazing reserves, citing erosion menace and the devastating effect of indiscriminate grazing on farmlands in Igbo land by Fulani cattle.
“Our land can no longer sustain the disastrous effects of Fulani herdsmen and their cattle on our ecology,” the IIU said.
The group pointed out that the entire Igbo land was already grappling with ecological problem of erosion, which according to it has already claimed over 20 per cent of the total landmass of Igbo land as a result of over grazing and indiscriminate excavation activities by contractors.
The IIU warned against any move to compound already bad situation as further assault on the land would result to total devastation of the region with its attendant consequences on food production and standard of living.
It therefore called on the governments of Igbo- speaking states to, as a matter of urgency, regulate the activities of the land excavators and bring offenders to book.
On the clash between herdsmen and the farmers of Ugwuleshi community in Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu State, IIU called on the federal government to set up a probe panel to identify the soldiers who invaded the community and rounded up 76 farmers who were brought to Umuahia and dumped in prison.
It further demanded prosecution of the herdsmen and their military collaborators “for their harassment, intimidation and invasion of hapless villagers,” adding that herdsmen have been allowed for too long to act with impunity.
The Igbo group vehemently condemned the manner the herdsmen had been allowed to do whatever they liked without security agencies calling them to order, noting that “the silence of the authorities is most provocative”.