Worried by the clash between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in Ugaga community in Yala Local Government Area which claimed one life and injured another, Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, has directed immediate deployment of all the security apparatus in the state to forestall breakdown of law and order in the area.
Ayade who disclosed this to journalists shortly after an emergency state Security Council meeting in Government House, Calabar, yesterday stated that the meeting was one of his proactive steps in stemming the security crisis in the area from escalating and to protect lives and property of the citizenry.
In his words, “We have already deployed the military, police and other security agencies to ensure that the situation is brought under control and as we speak, the area is calm and peaceful.”
The clash between the herdsmen and farmers came against the backdrop of the full implementation of the anti-open grazing bill recently passed into law by the Benue State government.
According to Ayade, “During our meeting, we did an analytical appraisal of the situation and we have come out with a very strong active points that must be implemented urgently.
“One of such measures is to immediately institute a mediation team comprising the security operatives, the fulani community, and my Special Adviser on non-indigene affairs as well as the leader of Hausa/ Fulani community in the state.”
The governor who admitted that the anti-grazing law of Benue State has put a lot of pressure on Cross River, particularly along border communities and towns, lamented that the state now bears the brunt of that law, adding that“ If the federal government does not come to lend its support to the state, what will happen is that they are leaving the farmers and the herdsmen to take on themselves.”
Ayade noted that as a result of the full implementation of the anti-open grazing law by the Benue State government, “there has been a mass exodus of Fulani herdsmen to Cross River.
This has become more exacerbated by the changes in climatic condition as the grasses up north is getting dryer and the impact is what resulted in the incident we recorded yesterday where there was a skirmish between the herdsmen and Ugaga community, leading to loss of life.
“If Cross River State does nothing, the continuous exodus of uncontrolled number of herdsmen into the state will result in more crisis. So, we must do something actively and fast too because it is causing anxiety, fear and worry and all through yesterday (Sunday night) all the calls and suggestions I got were that we should follow the direction of Benue State.”
According to Ayade, ‘We in Cross River have lived with the herdsmen peacefully over time but obviously, with the passage of the Anti-Open-Grazing law and its full implementation in Benue, it is having its effect on us. Currently, the situation is where the farmers feel a deep sense of loss with the continuous grazing on their economic crops while the herdsmen are desperately searching for pastures to sustain their cattle.”
Ayade urged the “federal government to summon the courage and tackle the issue “because if all the states pass a stiff law against grazing, then we are wiping out that trade and source of livelihood of some persons and if on the other hand, we also do nothing, and they continue to wipe out the crops, then you are also wiping out the source of living of another set of people.
“At this juncture, it is wise for us to call on the federal government to live up to its responsibilities by responding adequately to the plight of the people affected by the menace of herdsmen across the country.”
Commissioner of Police, Hafiz Inuwa who confirmed that one life was lost in the clash with one injured, disclosed that his men have been fully mobilised to the scene, adding that the security of the area was under control.