HRH Igwe Emmanuel Oluchukwu Ugwu is the traditional ruler of Ibagwa Nike community, representative of Enugu State Traditional Rulers Council in the committee on inter-community peace between natives and herdsmen in the state, and director, African Affairs, Association of World Peace Volunteer Advocates. In this interview with Christopher Isiguzo and Patrick Egwu in Enugu, Ugwu speaks on the solution to the bloody clashes between herdsmen and indigenous communities, which intensified in recent times in many parts of the country. Excerpts:

What is behind the incessant bloody conflicts between herdsmen and native communities in the country?
What I believe is that every clan, tribe, has their own tribal landmark. The same way in business, we know the Igbo people with their own business landmark and we know that the Fulani have their own landmark and likewise the Kanuri, Gwari, etc. But the problem we have now all over the country is about the cattle rearers, the herdsmen and this has become a perturbing issue that has created disunity in relationships and even torn the country apart. As a traditional ruler, I have Fulani people in my community and they have lived with us for more than 20 years and we don’t have any quarrel or issue with them. But at the same time, the issue of destroying people’s property has always been there and when that is done, we invite them and the moment we are able to get the people who did such damage, they will be made to pay.

But I know that what brought up the present situation is the killings of innocent citizens by those behind the damages and people are now more irritated because of the situation and the Boko Haram issue in the North. So at times, you begin to ask if it is an extension of the insecurity in the North that is trying to come to the South-east and South-south through cattle rearing. But one thing I want people to understand is that it is not an issue we should handle without a sense of reasoning, of

But I know that what brought up the present situation is the killings of innocent citizens by those behind the damages and people are now more irritated because of the situation and the Boko Haram issue in the North. So at times, you begin to ask if it is an extension of the insecurity in the North that is trying to come to the South-east and South-south through cattle rearing. But one thing I want people to understand is that it is not an issue we should handle without a sense of reasoning, of oneness of the nation. People should go to the root of who the owners of the cows are.

What are these seemingly hidden owners?
I was happy to see in the news when the presidency was inviting cattle owners. I keep saying it; this is not supposed to be a national issue but a personal issue because the cattle owners are mere individuals and personal business. Because of the killings of innocent citizens in the country, it is now made to be a national issue because it’s all about life that one did not create and they want to take what they did not create. So we know that there are people who are the real owners of the cows and they are not the rearers. The owners of the cows are the big shots in this country: governors, generals, traditional rulers, top politicians, and business men. It is not even the poor people that they are accusing that are the owners of these cows.

If you look at them, you will see that they are even suffering. If you interact with these herdsmen, you will find out that they are suffering because they are more of bush people and reason alike. You know that the only difference between man and animal is that God deprived animals of language for communicating with man. When some people who are privileged to be humans, with the voice of communication, are always in the bush and communicating with animals, the animals hear their language and they hear that of the animals. So who are they? They are more of those animals too. When you begin to look at them and attack them as though they reason the same way like you. Of course, they think of how to save themselves. They have a way of forming a defence to protect their own lives.

It is not even the poor people that they are accusing that are the owners of these cows. If you look at them, you will see that they are even suffering. If you interact with these herdsmen, you will find out that they are suffering because they are more of bush people and reason alike. You know that the only difference between man and animal is that God deprived animals of language for communicating with man. When some people who are privileged to be humans, with the voice of communication, are always in the bush and communicating with animals, the animals hear their language and they hear that of the animals. So who are they? They are more of those animals too. When you begin to look at them and attack them as though they reason the same way like you. Of course, they think of how to save themselves. They have a way of forming a defence to protect their own lives.

If you look at them, you will see that they are even suffering. If you interact with these herdsmen, you will find out that they are suffering because they are more of bush people and reason alike. You know that the only difference between man and animal is that God deprived animals of language for communicating with man. When some people who are privileged to be humans, with the voice of communication, are always in the bush and communicating with animals, the animals hear their language and they hear that of the animals. So who are they? They are more of those animals too. When you begin to look at them and attack them as though they reason the same way like you. Of course, they think of how to save themselves. They have a way of forming a defence to protect their own lives.

If you look at them, you will see that they are even suffering. If you interact with these herdsmen, you will find out that they are suffering because they are more of bush people and reason alike. You know that the only difference between man and animal is that God deprived animals of language for communicating with man. When some people who are privileged to be humans, with the voice of communication, are always in the bush and communicating with animals, the animals hear their language and they hear that of the animals. So who are they? They are more of those animals too. When you begin to look at them and attack them as though they reason the same way like you. Of course, they think of how to save themselves. They have a way of forming a defence to protect their own lives.

If you interact with these herdsmen, you will find out that they are suffering because they are more of bush people and reason alike. You know that the only difference between man and animal is that God deprived animals of language for communicating with man. When some people who are privileged to be humans, with the voice of communication, are always in the bush and communicating with animals, the animals hear their language and they hear that of the animals. So who are they? They are more of those animals too. When you begin to look at them and attack them as though they reason the same way like you. Of course, they think of how to save themselves. They have a way of forming a defence to protect their own lives.

If you look at them, you will see that they are even suffering. If you interact with these herdsmen, you will find out that they are suffering because they are more of bush people and reason alike. You know that the only difference between man and animal is that God deprived animals of language for communicating with man. When some people who are privileged to be humans, with the voice of communication, are always in the bush and communicating with animals, the animals hear their language and they hear that of the animals. So who are they? They are more of those animals too. When you begin to look at them and attack them as though they reason the same way like you. Of course, they think of how to save themselves. They have a way of forming a defence to protect their own lives.

The owners of these cows are in their various kingdoms enjoying themselves, whereas there are people who are in the bush suffering. The moment they lose one, two or three cows, they will report to the owners of the cows, you wouldn’t know them. In protection of what they have, they will come in counter attack.

So what is the way forward?
There are so many Igbo people I know that have these cows and Fulani people are the ones rearing the cows for them. They don’t even know their masters. The person they know is the middleman who says, “We have a cow, we want you to rear for somebody, this is the mode of payment or after five years take 10 per cent, depending on the proceeds you have gotten, and another person will take over.” I wouldn’t want people to understand this problem as a Fulani problem.

Let us look at it holistically and see that it is a private business and those owners of the businesses should know that their business is now hampering the businesses of other people. You cannot have 1, 000 cows and use them to destroy my 1, 000 hectares of farmland. When your own is flourishing, my own is dwindling, going down, it cannot work because it will aggravate a lot of issues. The owners of this business should be able to understand that their business is causing problems in the country and private business cannot be allowed to destroy our nation or the relationships between people in the country.

What should be the role of the traditional rulers and government, including the local, state and federal governments, in the effort to resolve the conflicts between herdsmen and host communities?
When you talk about communities, you talk about the traditional rulers and rural dwellers. If the traditional rulers can be given a space, the opportunity to carry out their duties as the chief security officers of their communities, this problem will stop. It is just that we don’t curb crime, when something happens in Nigeria we go after crime committers when they have committed the crime already. It takes more intelligence to be able to curb crime but Nigeria depends on when crime has been committed before they take action. What we need now is more intelligence gathering and I have written a proposal on Security Clearance Diversion Form, which will reveal who and who is living in your place. Now it is happening to us in Nigeria. At times, these things will even start with internal problems in the community. Somebody had once confronted me that he heard traditional rulers collect cows from the Fulani people and that’s why they are coming to kill people. Can anyone exchange life for cows? It’s not possible. At times those who are angry even go after the traditional rulers because they see Fulani people coming to my palace. You will now think they have given him money, so let’s go and chase them away. Many things are happening that I don’t want to go into now until our committee begins to work, then we will be able to bring out ideas that will save various communities. But the issue on the ground is that the communities and traditional rulers’ roles is “operation know your neighbour is very important”. Now in Enugu State, the governor has set up a committee with an order that cows should not be reared in the night again because most of the Fulani herdsmen said that those damaging people’s crops come from outside the state in the night. If that is true, then a joint committee has been set up. The

At times those who are angry even go after the traditional rulers because they see Fulani people coming to my palace. You will now think they have given him money, so let’s go and chase them away. Many things are happening that I don’t want to go into now until our committee begins to work, then we will be able to bring out ideas that will save various communities. But the issue on the ground is that the communities and traditional rulers’ roles is “operation know your neighbour is very important”. Now in Enugu State, the governor has set up a committee with an order that cows should not be reared in the night again because most of the Fulani herdsmen said that those damaging people’s crops come from outside the state in the night. If that is true, then a joint committee has been set up. The

You will now think they have given him money, so let’s go and chase them away. Many things are happening that I don’t want to go into now until our committee begins to work, then we will be able to bring out ideas that will save various communities. But the issue on the ground is that the communities and traditional rulers’ roles is “operation know your neighbour is very important”. Now in Enugu State, the governor has set up a committee with an order that cows should not be reared in the night again because most of the Fulani herdsmen said that those damaging people’s crops come from outside the state in the night. If that is true, then a joint committee has been set up. The Shuarabs, Metiallah and the Fulani people are coming together to be able to curb crime in the society before it erupts. It is commendable that the governor of Enugu State has initiated this professionally. If traditional rulers are allowed to take their place on board, without bias, without people trying to take laws into their hands, the problem will be solved.

Now in Enugu State, the governor has set up a committee with an order that cows should not be reared in the night again because most of the Fulani herdsmen said that those damaging people’s crops come from outside the state in the night. If that is true, then a joint committee has been set up. The Shuarabs, Metiallah and the Fulani people are coming together to be able to curb crime in the society before it erupts. It is commendable that the governor of Enugu State has initiated this professionally. If traditional rulers are allowed to take their place on board, without bias, without people trying to take laws into their hands, the problem will be solved.

Somebody had once confronted me that he heard traditional rulers collect cows from the Fulani people and that’s why they are coming to kill people. Can anyone exchange life for cows? It’s not possible. At times those who are angry even go after the traditional rulers because they see Fulani people coming to my palace. You will now think they have given him money, so let’s go and chase them away. Many things are happening that I don’t want to go into now until our committee begins to work, then we will be able to bring out ideas that will save various communities. But the issue on the ground is that the communities and traditional rulers’ roles is “operation know your neighbour is very important”. Now in Enugu State, the governor has set up a committee with an order that cows should not be reared in the night again because most of the Fulani herdsmen said that those damaging people’s crops come from outside the state in the night. If that is true, then a joint committee has been set up. The

But the issue on the ground is that the communities and traditional rulers’ roles is “operation know your neighbour is very important”. Now in Enugu State, the governor has set up a committee with an order that cows should not be reared in the night again because most of the Fulani herdsmen said that those damaging people’s crops come from outside the state in the night. If that is true, then a joint committee has been set up. The Shuarabs, Metiallah and the Fulani people are coming together to be able to curb crime in the society before it erupts. It is commendable that the governor of Enugu State has initiated this professionally. If traditional rulers are allowed to take their place on board, without bias, without people trying to take laws into their hands, the problem will be solved.

Somebody had once confronted me that he heard traditional rulers collect cows from the Fulani people and that’s why they are coming to kill people. Can anyone exchange life for cows? It’s not possible. At times those who are angry even go after the traditional rulers because they see Fulani people coming to my palace. You will now think they have given him money, so let’s go and chase them away. Many things are happening that I don’t want to go into now until our committee begins to work, then we will be able to bring out ideas that will save various communities. But the issue on the ground is that the communities and traditional rulers’ roles is “operation know your neighbour is very important”. Now in Enugu State, the governor has set up a committee with an order that cows should not be reared in the night again because most of the Fulani herdsmen said that those damaging people’s crops come from outside the state in the night. If that is true, then a joint committee has been set up. The Shuarabs, Metiallah and the Fulani people are coming together to be able to curb crime in the society before it erupts. It is commendable that the governor of Enugu State has initiated this professionally. If traditional rulers are allowed to take their place on board, without bias, without people trying to take laws into their hands, the problem will be solved.

Somebody had once confronted me that he heard traditional rulers collect cows from the Fulani people and that’s why they are coming to kill people. Can anyone exchange life for cows? It’s not possible. At times those who are angry even go after the traditional rulers because they see Fulani people coming to my palace. You will now think they have given him money, so let’s go and chase them away. Many things are happening that I don’t want to go into now until our committee begins to work, then we will be able to bring out ideas that will save various communities. But the issue on the ground is that the communities and traditional rulers’ roles

But the issue on the ground is that the communities and traditional rulers’ roles is “operation know your neighbour is very important”. Now in Enugu State, the governor has set up a committee with an order that cows should not be reared in the night again because most of the Fulani herdsmen said that those damaging people’s crops come from outside the state in the night. If that is true, then a joint committee has been set up. The Shuarabs, Metiallah and the Fulani people are coming together to be able to curb crime in the society before it erupts. It is commendable that the governor of Enugu State has initiated this professionally. If traditional rulers are allowed to take their place on board, without bias, without people trying to take laws into their hands, the problem will be solved.

It takes more intelligence to be able to curb crime but Nigeria depends on when crime has been committed before they take action. What we need now is more intelligence gathering and I have written a proposal on Security Clearance Diversion Form, which will reveal who and who is living in your place. Now it is happening to us in Nigeria. At times, these things will even start with internal problems in the community. Somebody had once confronted me that he heard traditional rulers collect cows from the Fulani people and that’s why they are coming to kill people. Can anyone exchange life for cows? It’s not possible. At times those who are angry even go after the traditional rulers because they see Fulani people coming to my palace. You will now think they have given him money, so let’s go and chase them away. Many things are happening that I don’t want to go into now until our committee begins to work, then we will be able to bring out ideas that will save various communities. But the issue on the ground is that the communities and traditional rulers’ roles

Can anyone exchange life for cows? It’s not possible. At times those who are angry even go after the traditional rulers because they see Fulani people coming to my palace. You will now think they have given him money, so let’s go and chase them away. Many things are happening that I don’t want to go into now until our committee begins to work, then we will be able to bring out ideas that will save various communities. But the issue on the ground is that the communities and traditional rulers’ roles is “operation know your neighbour is very important”. Now in Enugu State, the governor has set up a committee with an order that cows should not be reared in the night again because most of the Fulani herdsmen said that those damaging people’s crops come from outside the state in the night. If that is true, then a joint committee has been set up. The Shuarabs, Metiallah and the Fulani people are coming together to be able to curb crime in the society before it erupts. It is commendable that the governor of Enugu State has initiated this professionally. If traditional rulers are allowed to take their place on board, without bias, without people trying to take laws into their hands, the problem will be solved.

Many things are happening that I don’t want to go into now until our committee begins to work, then we will be able to bring out ideas that will save various communities. But the issue on the ground is that the communities and traditional rulers’ roles is “operation know your neighbour is very important”. Now in Enugu State, the governor has set up a committee with an order that cows should not be reared in the night again because most of the Fulani herdsmen said that those damaging people’s crops come from outside the state in the night. If that is true, then a joint committee has been set up. The Shuarabs, Metiallah and the Fulani people are coming together to be able to curb crime in the society before it erupts. It is commendable that the governor of Enugu State has initiated this professionally. If traditional rulers are allowed to take their place on board, without bias, without people trying to take laws into their hands, the problem will be solved.

It takes more intelligence to be able to curb crime but Nigeria depends on when crime has been committed before they take action. What we need now is more intelligence gathering and I have written a proposal on Security Clearance Diversion Form, which will reveal who and who is living in your place. Now it is happening to us in Nigeria. At times, these things will even start with internal problems in the community. Somebody had once confronted me that he heard traditional rulers collect cows from the Fulani people and that’s why they are coming to kill people. Can anyone exchange life for cows? It’s not possible. At times those who are angry even go after the traditional rulers because they see Fulani people coming to my palace. You will now think they have given him money, so let’s go and chase them away. Many things are happening that I don’t want to go into now until our committee begins to work, then we will be able to bring out ideas that will save various communities. But the issue on the ground is that the communities and traditional rulers’ roles is “operation know your neighbour is very important”. Now in Enugu State, the governor has set up a committee with an order that cows should not be reared in the night again because most of the Fulani herdsmen said that those damaging people’s crops come from outside the state in the night. If that is true, then a joint committee has been set up. The

Can anyone exchange life for cows? It’s not possible. At times those who are angry even go after the traditional rulers because they see Fulani people coming to my palace. You will now think they have given him money, so let’s go and chase them away. Many things are happening that I don’t want to go into now until our committee begins to work, then we will be able to bring out ideas that will save various communities. But the issue on the ground is that the communities and traditional rulers’ roles is “operation know your neighbour is very important”. Now in Enugu State, the governor has set up a committee with an order that cows should not be reared in the night again because most of the Fulani herdsmen said that those damaging people’s crops come from outside the state in the night. If that is true, then a joint committee has been set up. The

Now in Enugu State, the governor has set up a committee with an order that cows should not be reared in the night again because most of the Fulani herdsmen said that those damaging people’s crops come from outside the state in the night. If that is true, then a joint committee has been set up. The Shuarabs, Metiallah and the Fulani people are coming together to be able to curb crime in the society before it erupts. It is commendable that the governor of Enugu State has initiated this professionally. If traditional rulers are allowed to take their place on board, without bias, without people trying to take laws into their hands, the problem will be solved.

It takes more intelligence to be able to curb crime but Nigeria depends on when crime has been committed before they take action. What we need now is more intelligence gathering and I have written a proposal on Security Clearance Diversion Form, which will reveal who and who is living in your place. Now it is happening to us in Nigeria. At times, these things will even start with internal problems in the community. Somebody had once confronted me that he heard traditional rulers collect cows from the Fulani people and that’s why they are coming to kill people. Can anyone exchange life for cows? It’s not possible. At times those who are angry even go after the traditional rulers because they see Fulani people coming to my palace. You will now think they have given him money, so let’s go and chase them away. Many things are happening that I don’t want to go into now until our committee begins to work, then we will be able to bring out ideas that will save various communities. But the issue on the ground is that the communities and traditional rulers’ roles is “operation know your neighbour is very important”. Now in Enugu State, the governor has set up a committee with an order that cows should not be reared in the night again because most of the Fulani herdsmen said that those damaging people’s crops come from outside the state in the night. If that is true, then a joint committee has been set up. The

You will now think they have given him money, so let’s go and chase them away. Many things are happening that I don’t want to go into now until our committee begins to work, then we will be able to bring out ideas that will save various communities. But the issue on the ground is that the communities and traditional rulers’ roles is “operation know your neighbour is very important”. Now in Enugu State, the governor has set up a committee with an order that cows should not be reared in the night again because most of the Fulani herdsmen said that those damaging people’s crops come from outside the state in the night. If that is true, then a joint committee has been set up. The Shuarabs, Metiallah and the Fulani people are coming together to be able to curb crime in the society before it erupts. It is commendable that the governor of Enugu State has initiated this professionally. If traditional rulers are allowed to take their place on board, without bias, without people trying to take laws into their hands, the problem will be solved.

Can anyone exchange life for cows? It’s not possible. At times those who are angry even go after the traditional rulers because they see Fulani people coming to my palace. You will now think they have given him money, so let’s go and chase them away. Many things are happening that I don’t want to go into now until our committee begins to work, then we will be able to bring out ideas that will save various communities. But the issue on the ground is that the communities and traditional rulers’ roles is “operation know your neighbour is very important”. Now in Enugu State, the governor has set up a committee with an order that cows should not be reared in the night again because most of the Fulani herdsmen said that those damaging people’s crops come from outside the state in the night. If that is true, then a joint committee has been set up. The

Now in Enugu State, the governor has set up a committee with an order that cows should not be reared in the night again because most of the Fulani herdsmen said that those damaging people’s crops come from outside the state in the night. If that is true, then a joint committee has been set up. The Shuarabs, Metiallah and the Fulani people are coming together to be able to curb crime in the society before it erupts. It is commendable that the governor of Enugu State has initiated this professionally. If traditional rulers are allowed to take their place on board, without bias, without people trying to take laws into their hands, the problem will be solved.

Do you support the idea of creating grazing reserves across the country for the herdsmen?
I don’t know why the federal government should wade into a project that does not belong to them. For whom are they establishing the grazing reserves? Is it for Nigerian agriculture? If Nigerians are the owners of those cows as a country farm and you want to get a grazing reserve because of the general interest, then they have every power to acquire lands. That’s why I said that the owners of the cows are notable people. All I know is that notable individuals are the owners of the business. I am not even against getting a grazing reserve, but if Alhaji Adamu has 1, 000 cows and approaches me as the Igwe of Ibagwa and says, “I want to have 1, 000 hectares of land where I will be able to graze or farm.” I will enter into an MoU with Adamu. It is a business and not a government business. But if I say, “Adamu, I don’t want, I don’t have such land,” then it is not supposed to be a national issue to the federal government. People who are the owners of the business should go and negotiate their business but if government is now the one negotiating for them, then they are the one financing the project.

What is your take on the issue of neighbourhood watch in different communities?
The neighbourhood watch is community policing; using those who know the crime committers to curb the crime. When the governor called us on that, we were all happy that for the first time a governor is thinking in this direction. The beauty of community policing is that it is according to the law of the federation. It’s a welcome idea. For instance, in my own place when this problem started I called the Fulani men and told them the danger now because of the killings. They said, please, we will remain peaceful. We had to change pattern by setting up a committee, which involves the youths of the Fulani people. We have a committee whose duty is to visit the Fulani whenever their people damage anything and bring those who damaged those things. So the neighbourhood issue is excellent. What you need to do is to build a bridge of trust, and not approach matter in a way that it will disrupt the peace of the country.