John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Inspector General of Police (IG), Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, has asked state governments to establish grazing reserves for herdsmen before enacting anti-grazing laws.
The IG spoke wednesday in Kaduna during the northern states stakeholdersâ€™ security summit.
Idris noted that if grazing reserves were created by the Benue State government before the enactment of its anti-grazing law, the situation in the state would have been mitigated.
He said clashes between herders and farmers did not start today, maintaining that the current administration has taken more measures to end the crisis more than any previous regime.
He also accused some state governments for arming their security outfits with pump action and AK47 rifles, saying such illegality would not be allowed to continue.
He disclosed that over 50 AK 47 rifles, 20 English made pistols, two 5MG rifles, over 1000 rounds of AK 47 rifles and other assorted pistols ammunition were recovered from criminals.
Idris said the recoveries raises serious alarm on the number of illegal arms and ammunition at the disposal of criminals and bandits.
â€œTo stop this trend, I have directed all commissioners of police in the state commands and their supervisory Assistant Inspectors General of police (AIGs) to ensure the mop up of illegally acquired arms and ammunition in the country.
â€œTwenty one-day ultimatum has been given to persons in possession of illegally acquired firearms. The Police do not have power to issue licence for the possession of Pump action guns and other lethal weapons under the firearms Act.
â€œAnybody that is holding pump action on the belief that he has a licence from the police is therefore committing a crime under the firearm Act,â€ the IG said
According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari has mandated him to adopt effective strategies to end the reoccurring clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
â€œHowever, it is my humble suggestion that to reduce the incidence of clashes between farmers and herders in Nigeria, state governments should endeavour to establish grazing ranches in their various states before enacting laws to prohibit open rearing and grazing.
â€œIt is when grazing ranches are established that herders can be arrested and punished for rearing and grazing on the open places.
â€œDoing so, I am of the opinion that it will make the law acceptable by all the parties concerned and other critical stakeholders in that all important sector.
â€œIt will do us good if we avoid the hasty formulation and implementation of such laws across the country in the interest of peace and unity.
â€œFor instance I have visited Benue and Nasarawa States and observed that the crisis trailing the Benue State prohibition of open rearing and grazing of livestock would have been mitigated, if the state had first established grazing ranches before prohibition of open grazing as provided in the state law established by the state assembly,â€ Idris said.
Also speaking on the killings in Zamfara State, the IG described the situation as a serious security issue which requires urgent steps to avoid further killings.
According to him, adequate steps were being taken to end the mass killings in the state, adding that an investigative panel headed by an AIG in-charge police intelligence had been set up to bring the killers to justice.
Also speaking at the occasion, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who was represented by his Senior Special Adviser on Political Matters, Senator Femi Ojudu, said the killings in Zamafara State were clear indication that the herdsmen-farmers conflict was not a religious or ethic issue.
He also restated the determination of the federal government to rescue the 110 schoolgirls abducted recently by Boko Haram in Dapchi, Yobe State, as well as the remaining of the Chibok girls.
The summit with the theme â€˜Nation building: Security challenges and the need for inclusive approach,â€™ was attended by traditional rulers in the North.