By Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
Edo North traditional rulers have raised the alarm over incessant attacks by herdsmen in the area, urging the federal government to act urgently and decisively by deploying soldiers as backup to prone areas.
The traditional rulers said the call had become necessary as the Nigerian Police possessed inferior weapons to tackle the herdsmen which according to them resulted in the unchallenged attacks in the area.
Edo North is made up of six local government areas comprising Akoko-Edo, Owan West, Owan East, Etsako West, Etsako East and Etsako Central Local Government Councils.
Briefing journalists in Auchi, headquarters of Etsako West LGA on behalf of the traditional rulers, the Otaru of Auchi, HRH Alhaji Aliru Momoh, Ikelegbe III said their women had been raped, lamenting that the vigilante groups that had in the past dared the criminally minded herdsmen had been demoralised due to irregular payment of their stipends apparently as a result of drop in government finances.
According to him, “We have a situation of the menace of Fulani herdsmen that had been operating and disturbing our farmers all over this place, it is increasingly very disturbing.
“Before now, herdsmen have always been coming, they have their routes they pass to the south and other parts over the years. But now there have been issues of destruction of farmlands or people being taken as hostages, kidnapping all over the place. That is why we want government to do something. We are appealing to the federal government to ensure that soldiers are deployed to some of these areas because we now find that the police don’t have the armoury, they don’t have the strength to address or frontally attack these very serious and violent situation that we are into in this country. There have been serious kidnapping of people in this area and we want any support by government to dislodge these violent people.
“We have also noticed that the mobility of the vigilantes operating to address this issue is becoming seriously diminished they are no longer paying their stipends, before now, this state government had taken it upon itself to paying them stipends every month but because I believe due to the dwindling fortunes of the state, we have this problem lingering”.
The issue of vigilante is very important, they are not allowed to use heavy weapons and even at that they would want to dare the situation when it happens, but they don’ t get the backing of the police as it were it has happened in Auchi recently and we don’t want our state to be declared unsafe. But even at that the weapons these herdsmen are using is sophisticated that is why I said we need soldiers to come to the aid of our people.”
He said recently in Auchi, “when women were being raped and their farms destroyed, we decided to ask women not to go the to the farm again because we cannot afford to expose our women to such dastardly actions and experiences.
“What we then did was to give them N24,000 each to go and look for small business to at least keep them alive so we thought when these people were no longer seeing people in farms again, the women and others maybe they will seize coming to the farm but they now abandoned that and they are now coming to disturb people in their communities and kidnap them and extorting money from that. These people have become a threat not only in Edo north but all over the country”, the Otaru of Auchi stated.