Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
The traditional ruler of Abavo Kingdom in Ika South Local Government Area of Delta State, HRM Obi Uche Irenuma II, has raised the alarm that Fulani herdsmen have practically taken over the kingdom as the have laid siege to his people’s farmland.
Obi Irenuma claimed that following the forceful occupation of their farmlands by the cattle nomads, Abavo people have been unable to gain access to their farms for about three months.
He said investigation showed that the herders were operating more than seven camps in Obianyima, Ekwuoma, Azuowa and Oyoko communities within the kingdom which shares boundaries with Agbor and some communities in Edo State.
As a result of the herders’ menace, residents of the area have abandoned their farms for fear of being kidnapped, raped, tortured or killed, the royal father said in a statement made available to journalists in Asaba at the weekend.
The community called on the federal, state and local government to urgently come to their aid in order to avert a total breakdown of law and order in the area as the armed herdsmen have been terrorising the local people without restraint.
The Abavo monarch called on the authorities to intervene to save the lives and economic means of survival of the people, saying: “A state of emergency should be urgently declared in Abavo in Ika South LGA following the terror that is being unleashed on the people by Fulani herdsmen.”
The statement alleged that: “For the past three months, farmers could not go to their farms. The herders have converted their yam as food for their cattle.”
Obi Irenuma announced the recent kidnap of two of his subjects along the Obianyima-Okpe Road, warning that tension has heightened in the community as a result of the unwholesome activities of the herdsmen.
He stated that yam barns in farms owned by his subjects had been destroyed by the marauding herdsmen, who allegedly cut tubers of yam to feed their cattle in addition to the destruction of other economic crops like cassava and plantains.
In an effort to arrest the worrisome situation and avert anarchy in the community, a meeting of stakeholders was held at his palace recently “where it was agreed that peace and order should reign between the herders and the host community.”
The traditional ruler said those who attended the stakeholders meeting included the police, DSS, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Non-indigenes, Alhaji Murkta; the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Security Matters, Ogbueshi Cassidy Iloba; the leader of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeder Association in Ika South and Ika North-East LGAs and the Ika South LGA Chairman, Hon Victor Okoh, where the herders pledged to be of good conduct.
The Abavo leader, however, lamented that contrary to the promises made at the said meeting, the Fulani herdsmen have been unrelenting in their nefarious activities and violence, which he noted was capable of causing security breach in the community, hence he decided to alert the authorities.
He stressed that Abavo is generally an agrarian community, and appealed to the Delta State Government, the state police command and other security agencies to intervene without delay to avert total breakdown of law and order in Abavo.