From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
OVERWHELMED by the activities of herdsmen across Delta State, members of local security outfits in the state, yesterday, staged a massive protest that halted vehicular movement at the Asaba axis of the busy Benin-Onitsha Expressway.
Armed with placards of different inscriptions, the protesters gathered at the Summit Junction and barricaded both ends of the dualised road, forcing commuters to make a detour into Asaba metropolis to get to their destinations.
Most motorists, particularly heavy duty vehicles, were, however, stuck at the spot until the protesters dispatched at about 2.30pm after Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State was said to have sent emissaries to placate the aggrieved local security forces.
The protesters told newsmen that they decided to take to the highway in protest after their letters to government institutions on the unbearable activities of Fulani herdsmen were allegedly ignored.
Gathered under the auspices of Anioma Security Watch, Delta South Security Network and Urhobo Security Network, the protesters said government had failed in its primary responsibility of protecting lives by allowing herdsmen to be killing innocent and law abiding citizens.
In a protest letter signed by Jacob Godwin, Henry Onwuamalieze and Warri Eriques, the protesters alleged that government paid more attention to protection of oil facilities and installations at the expense of security of human lives.
Entitled ‘Insensitivity of government and the inevitable war against Fulani herdsmen’, the letter also faulted government’s action of drafting security agents during “election to cow perceived enemies and electorate to win such elections, but failed to address the deadly menace of Fulani herdsmen.”
“There have been several uncountable killings, robbery, kidnapping, sexual harassment, attacks and massive destruction of crops and farmland traced to the Fulani herdsmen, but the government is never interested to arrest this ugly trend, maybe, because it will not put money in their pocket or promote their political activities.
“We are tired of counting our losses, brutality, deprivation, emotional torture, pains, killings, weeping, hunger, lack and other sacrilegious acts served us by the trigger happy and above-the-law Fulani herdsmen.
“We have advised government in our previous letters to provide grazing reserved areas within the three senatorial districts of the state, just as it is done in Lagos and some other states to checkmate the excesses as well as retrieve the steps of Fulani herdsmen from further unleashing terror on our people,” the letter read in parts.
Reacting to the protest, Commissioner for Information in Delta State, Mr. Patrick Ukah, appealed for calm and patience on the part of the citizens of the state, saying the menace of herdsmen was a national security issue.
He appealed to the protesters to maintain peace in their various domains, noting that “because of the sensitive nature of the issue, it would not be wise to discuss the efforts of government in the public until they yield the desired results.
“It will appear as if the solution is slow, but it has to be a bit slow because of the sensitivity. If you do not handle it well and make a pronouncement outside, it is enough to blow the roof. As a government, we can only pacify and sue for dialogue.”