The pan-Igbo group, the Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), yesterday, called on the South East to enact the Anti-Open Grazing Law and provide necessary measures to protect lives and property in the zone.
Describing the security situation in Nigeria as “one of the worst” in its contemporary history, more than during the Nigeria-Biafra war, ADF, lamented “it does not seem that there is anyone in charge to whom the people can look up to for their protection.”
ADF spoke through its Coordinator, Legal Bureau, Max Ozoka, who said the collapse of security had led to regional outfits like Amotekun in the South West, Shege Ka Fasa by a coalition of northern groups, and vigilance groups by the Tivs in Benue, Junkuns in Taraba and in Edo.
In 2016, the ADF submitted a Draft Anti-Open Grazing Bill to Igbo-speaking states, but only Abia House of Assembly passed it, even though it was yet to be signed into law by the governor.
“Nigerians have the right to protect themselves (their men, women and children) and their ancestral lands from rampaging bandits. The most common identity of these criminals is that they hide under the movement of cattle.
Therefore, the first step in tackling the security challenges, is to control the free movement and grazing of cattle. We are not saying that nobody should rear cattle. All we are saying is that open grazing of cattle is bad for our security and bad for our economy and our survival,” Ozoka said.
The ADF, which has Prof. Uzodinma Nwala as president, said passing the Anti-OpenGrazing law remains critical in guaranteeing the security of the people of the South East.
The organisation noted that the region already had ancestral customary laws which prohibited the roaming of animals in communities and farms.
The Pan-Igbo body regretted that “the free roaming and grazing of cattle that lawlessly destroy the crops of helpless farmers is the major root cause of the problem. What is more, criminals from West African and other countries have taken advantage of this situation to invade our communities, wrecking all manner of havoc, killing, maiming, kidnapping our innocent citizens, raping our wives, sisters and daughters with reckless abandon and mindless impunity.
Our President, General Mohammad Buhari has himself publicly confessed that many of these criminals come from Libya.”