Okowa: Fulani Herdsmen Levy Farmers in Delta Communities to Enter Farms

  • AIG Zone 5 mum about menace in Edo, Delta

By Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba

The worrisome issue of frequent attacks on farmers in numerous communities in Delta State by Fulani herdsmen may have taken a new dimension as the herdsmen have reportedly taken over some communities and are demanding toll from farmers wishing to enter their farms. Delta State Governor, Dr.Ifeanyi Okowa, raised the alarm and alerted the Nigeria Police authorities to the disturbing development in his state yesterday, when the when the Assistant Inspector General (AIG) in charge of Zone ‘5’, Mr. Rasheed Akintunde, called on him at the Government House Asaba.

He said three communities out of the seven in a particular clan in the Urhobo speaking area of the state have been turned into an occupied territory of sorts by the herdsmen who would only allow people go to their farms after paying levies to the Fulani herdsmen. An apparently upset Okowa urged the police authorities to take drastic and urgent steps to tackle the menace of the herdsmen in many parts of the state before the situation gets totally out of hand and anarchy sets in. The governor, who disclosed that some communities in his state have been under siege from the nomadic Fulanis for years, warned that the situation could deteriorate into full-blown crisis if the security agencies failed to curb illegal activities of herdsmen in parts of the state. Okowa told the AIG: “There is a particular community in Delta State, at a point in time we discussed it at Security Council meeting.

And, just yesterday (Thursday) while I was in Ughelli North for my regular Town Hall meeting, the people raised a very serious issue about the Uwheru community. It is a very pathetic situation, because the presidentgeneral of the community spoke on the fact that out of their seven communities, three of them are actually occupied by the herdsmen and the farmers are told that they must pay the herdsmen before they can enter their farms. “That is very disturbing because it is strange for indigenes to pay money before they can enter their farms, and I believe something has to be done before it evolves into a crisis situation. “This has been going on for several years but it has gotten worse of recent. So, AIG, this situation has to be addressed immediately as security issue.” The governor told the zonal police chief that his administration was concerned about the security of life and property of every person and their communities in Delta State, saying that the onus was on the police and other security agencies strive to protect the different communities in the state.

However, Okowa commended the working rapport between the different security agencies in the state, saying it has engendered a relatively peaceful atmosphere that has been attracting diverse investors to the state. According to the governor, “As a people, we know that the more peaceful we are the more investors will come into the state. And, in the course of this year, we will witness a lot of groundbreaking ceremony as investors are coming to the state in their large numbers. “We are doing a lot to provide infrastructure, we are doing a lot to engage our youths; the more youths we engage, the less idle minds we will have in the state. “Delta State is largely peaceful (because) we take matters of security seriously. There is a lot of collaboration between different security agencies in Delta State.

We also have State Advisory and Peace Building Council which is made up of experienced men and women of impeccable character (who also) help to maintain peace in the state.” Efforts by newsmen to get AIG Akintunde’s reaction to the pervasive and worsening problem of herdsmen in Delta Edo and Bayelsa states were unsuccessful as the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Andrew Aniamaka, shielded the AIG from newsmen who pressed forward to interview him. The Zone ‘5’ AIG also turned down request for interview by state Government Press Crew and reporters, with the PPRO saying Mr. Akintunde would speak with newsmen at the police headquarters, a promise that was eventually not kept.

However, addressing officers and men at the Delta State Police Command Headquarters, Asaba the zonal police chief urged them to adhere to adhere to the rules and regulations guiding the profession, saying they could only achieve the desired success if they conduct themselves well, and officers worked in harmony with the rank and file. Akintunde, who said they could not afford to run away from challenges “which are always everywhere”, also advised the officers and men to identify dependable allies in the various communities they are deployed in order to carry out an effective community policing. The Delta State Police Commissioner, Mr. Muhammad Mustafa, had earlier identified dearth of manpower, shortage of adequate accommodation as well as poor logistics base, which includes arms and ammunition, as some of the challenges facing the command.

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