Magnus Eze (Enugu), Geoffrey Anyanwu (Awka), Okey Sampson (Aba), Jeff Amechi Agbodo (Onitsha), Felix Ikem (Nsukka), George Onyejiuwa (Owerri) and Obinna Odogwu (Abakaliki)
From Okposi in Ohaozara, Ebonyi State to Anam in Anambra West of Anambra State; Ugbawka in Nkanu East, Enugu State to Umuobasi-Ukwu, Ozuitem in Bende, Abia State and Obokofia, Ngor-Okpala in Imo State; the Igbo of Southeast are united against the proposed but suspended Ruga Settlement programme or anyother livestock development programme that will require them ceding their land to Fulani herdsmen.
Their position is understandable given what the various communities have passed through in the hands of rampaging herders, especially in the last five years.
Like people on conquest expedition, the herdsmen wherever they went, left in their trail gory tales of sorrow, tears and blood, they people of the region claimed. The situation has become so pathetic and precarious that even communities like Nenwe in Enugu State where the natives hitherto lived peacefully with the Fulani herdsmen said they can no longer tolerate or accommodate them.
Individuals, groups and the South East Governors’ Forum (SEGF) have categorically declared that there was no land in the region for the Ruga Settlement programme being promoted by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) as approved by the National Economic Council (NEC).
However, the governors of the region disclosed that the states were disposed to accommodating peaceful herders, but would no longer tolerate herds moving into their states by foot.
They denied in totality rumours that some state governments had already donated land for the Ruga Settlement programme.
A statement on their behalf by the Director General of SEGF, Prof. Simon Ortuanyna said that: “The fact remains that no South East Governor has donated any land or intends to donate any land for any of the two programmes for lack of enough land in the entire Southeast.”
They further emphasized that what the Federal Government and NEC approved was NLTP, stressing that it was not compulsory for all the states, but for any willing state which wants to participate in the NLTP.
For the Association of South East Town Unions (ASETU), there was a serious, deliberate and systematic agenda to bloodily Islamise, overrun, occupy and take over some sections of the country, particularly the Southeast and Igboland.
Rising from an emergency meeting in Enugu, last weekend, which was attended by its national executive committee, state executive committees, zonal and local government area coordinators of the body, the association, among other resolutions, agreed to engage all the local hunters’ unions in Igboland, to ensure the safety and security of the communities.
In doing this, they urged all communities to reinvigorate their vigilance groups and other traditional security outfits.
A communiqué by ASETU National President, Chief Emeka Diwe and National Secretary, Hon. Gideon Adikwuru alleged that part of the tactics was buying of large portions of land to create colonies (Zango) for Fulani herders, using Igbo people as surrogates.
According to the group, investigations had revealed the occupation of many parts of Igbo forests, alleging that up to 139 points were already identified where suspected burying of arms and ammunition had taken place.
Part of the communiqué stated: “We caution every Igbo community to be mindful of any proposal to buy large portions of land in their domain. We hereby call on all Igbo town union leaders to liaise with their traditional rulers to subject such proposals and offers to proper scrutiny as this would turn to gateways of surreptitiously entering into our communities to carry out nefarious activities.
“We also resolved to pursue a conscious and well-coordinated provision of “home-security” in all parts of Igboland, anchored on the original concept of town unionism in partnership with all traditional institutions.
“We call on all Igbo sons and daughters to be alert, vigilant and security conscious and to rise up in defence of themselves, their kith and kin and the Igbo nation with whatever form and formula available in the event of any unwarranted attack provided it is within the ambits of the law.
“We encourage each and every community in Igbo land to revive, enforce and maintain its local vigilante and youth organizations and partner with their various hunters unions and all local traditional institutions to take over the maintenance and provision of security in their domains. They should henceforth organize and group themselves to embark on regular bush combing exercises so as to identify as well as forestall any impending security threats. We charge every community to defend itself and its people.”
While reactions trailed the suspension of the programme, elder statesman, Chief Emmanuel Iwuayanwu has advised the Federal Government to listen to the people by discontinuing the Ruga Settlement programme.
Rejecting the proposal, he said, would be wrong, because as he puts it the “voice of the people is the voice of God”, even as he strongly disagreed that the perpetrators of the heinous killings were Nigerians.
“The whole of the Southwest cannot be stupid, South-south cannot be stupid, Southeast cannot be stupid, Middle Belt cannot be stupid even the Hausa are in trouble because they’re being killed too. I don’t believe these people are stupid. Of course, I’m very happy that the governors of the Southeast have stated it clear that they don’t want the settlement and if you come to Southeast; on whose lands would you settle them,” he queried.
In this report, we have, therefore, reviewed the relationship between Southeast communities and the Fulani herdsmen in the recent past on state to state basis, bringing out recent incidents, as well as attempts to address the menace.
Enugu State seems to be the worst hit by the destructive activities of marauding herders in the Southeast. Communities such as Ndeaboh, Mpu, Oduma and Nenwe in Aninri Local Government Area; Amagunze, Nkerefi and Ugbawka in Nkanu East, as well as several others in Isiuzo, Igbo-Etti, Nsukka, Udenu, and Uzo-Uwani to mention but a few, have many bitter stories to tell.
On April 25, 2016, Fulani herdsmen invaded Nimbo, a boarder community in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of the State, killing 11 people and left over 100 others injured.
The people of Nimbo community and the neighbouring villages are predominantly farmers who engage in the cultivation of maize, cassava, pepper, garden egg, rice, among other farm products.
During the 2016 skirmish, seven villages in the community: Nimbo Ngwoko, Ugwuijoro, Ekwuru, Ebor, Enugu Nimbo, Umuome and Ugwuachara, were affected with houses, vehicles, property and a church staff quarters razed down.
The issue of destruction of crops and occupying farmlands by Fulani herdsmen has persisted overtime in the area.
In fact, the resurgence of herdsmen attacks in parts of Enugu State has brought sorrow to many homes. A senior lecturer at the Nnamdi Azikwe University, Awka, Anambra State and Administrative Secretary of Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State, Dr Nnamdi Ogueche, was allegedly killed in March, this year, by herders while returning from a peace meeting between his kinsmen and Fulani herders.
Ogueche was shot dead along Iwolo Road in Ezeagu on his way back from the meeting as a member of a team sent to assess the level of damage to the farm crops in his community, Adaba and Lokpa, by suspected herders.
The peace meeting was summoned by the then Special Adviser to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on security matters, Brig. Gen. Fred Eze (rtd).
There has been uneasy calm in many agrarian communities of Enugu State three years after the Nimbo massacre following so many other attacks in parts of the state, some of them resulted in deaths. In November last year, a man was allegedly killed by herdsmen in his farm at Ndeaboh in Aninri. Before then, they had also killed a Reverend Brother in Akegbe-Ugwu in Nkanu West Local Government Area.
Also, Imeagu Ugbwka Rice Production Cluster (MPCS) Ltd, comprising 10 cooperative societies has suffered serial destruction of its rice farm at Isigwe Ugbawka in Nkanu East council area of the state.
According to a report, when a government committee visited the area, “aside minor incidents of grazing of the rice farm by cattle, the major recorded incidents included are on 9th November 2017 when cattle grazed 2.7 hectares of rice farm estimated at 7 tons of paddy; in April 2018, herders added terror to the havoc caused by cattle to farm as a herder in possession of AK47 gun was arrested by combined team of police and community neighbourhood watch.
“Then on 28th August, 2018, herders’ cattle grazed another 1 hectare of one-month old rice plants at same farm.”
Sunday Sun was told that all the incidents were duly reported to the Security and Peace Committee in the state, but no demonstrable reprieve or due compensation were made, rather, herders seemed more emboldened and fierce in aggravated acts of destruction of farms and pollution of the proximate streams.
For the people of Agbada-Nenwe, their affliction in the hands of murderous herders got to a head recently, prompting them to display uncommon bravery as they rose in unison on June 29 and chased herdsmen and their cattle away from their community. That action which video went viral on the social media has continued to receive mixed reactions.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi had quickly convoked a town hall meeting involving all heads of security agencies in the state, relevant stakeholders and the community search of solutions.
Although the government and police had come out to dismiss the video as untrue, natives of the area who spoke to Sunday Sun confirmed the incident, saying that they were tired of herdsmen and would no longer have them in their area.
Government’s failure to prosecute those arrested, for instance, in the case of Nimbo killings had questioned its sincerity to addressing the menace of herdsmen in the state.
Notwithstanding, it had constituted the Enugu State Security and Peace Committee, to look into herdsmen/farmers’ issues and as much as possible curtail clashes among them.
The committee which started in September 2016 is mandated to ensure, “that there should be no night rearing of cattle, no night movement; that any cattle that destroys crop, the owner of the cattle will pay and any community that kills cattle, the community will pay for it.”
At the moment, Nimbo community has categorically declared that they would no longer live with herders whom they called Fulani terrorists again, even as peace was gradually returning to the community.
“The herdsmen we have now are terrorists and we cannot live with them”, Nimbo traditional ruler, John Ikemefuna Akor, said, stressing that initially when herdsmen destroyed crops they paid compensation, but the new generation of herdsmen destroy farm plantation and instead of begging they would resort to killing.
A farmer in Uzo-Uwani, Mrs. Mary Akor said they were afraid to live with herdsmen again, because the herders have formed a habit they could not tolerate anymore as “they destroy our farms and rape our women for saying why do you destroy our crops.”
Chairman, Enugu State Town Union Presidents, Mr. Poly Eze, said: “I don’t think our people will ever support any form of ranching in the region because of the attacks recorded against the Fulani herdsmen in the past. They would rather the herdsmen establish ranches in the North instead of the Southeast. The governors in the zone have always said that there’s no land for ranches in the East. So, I don’t think the issue of ranches will be allowed in the region.”
Traditional ruler of Ihe N’Owere in Nsukka, Igwe George Asadu noted that the bitter memories of herdsmen attacks ignited the fear of Ruga in the region.
He said that they have their own breed of cow which some of their people rear as private business; adding that they do not destroy anybody’s farm or forcefully occupy people’s land in the course of rearing the cattle.
Mr. Paul Ene from Obinagu in Udi said the notorious activities of herdsmen in the Southeast have taken a new dimension.
“They should go because they have overstayed their welcome. They earned the bad names attributed to them. Have you ever heard that a Fulani woman was raped by our people? But their men go about raping other women at will,” he said.
In Ebonyi State, the traditional ruler of Amagu Ikwo community in Ikwo Local Government Area, Eze Dominic Alo has this to say about their relationship with herdsmen: “It is really strained as far as I am concerned. It is no longer as it used to be when they came in here, rearing their cattle while we purchased the meat. We who were born and bred here knew how it was. There was a cordial relationship between us and them. There wasn’t much crisis.”
The monarch blamed external influence for the now “strained relations” between the Fulani herdsmen and their host communities in Igboland.
Eze Alo said that he was “pleased with the news of the suspension of the Ruga programme. This is because it will bring peace. If it is not done, there will be steady crisis. In my area, I live in a very little encircled area that you don’t even have a space for private use talk more of one where cattle will be reared.”
The traditional ruler who agreed that Igbo people were also into cattle rearing business as the people breed “local cattle”, however, said emphatically that he would not support any form of ranching in any part of Southeast geopolitical zone.
Though Fulani herdsmen and their host communities in Ebonyi State have had frosty relationship in the past, chances are there that such strained relations have continued unreported in the media.
For example, on 12th March, 2018, three persons were killed and two others injured in Enyanwuigwe village, Igbeagu community in Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State when two suspected Fulani herdsmen invaded the community and unleashed terror on the residents.
Also damaged in the attack were property and economic trees worth several thousands of naira, residents claimed.
Widow of one of the deceased persons, Mrs Augustina Okemini, told our correspondent that her husband, Mr Okemini Nwachi, had gone to their nearby farmland to tie to the tether their native cow and was returning when he met his untimely death.
“A Fulani herdsman armed with cutlass attacked him with the machete; he cut him three times, cutting his two hands off and then cut him on the head before he fell down.
“We rushed him to Ndubia Hospital, but he died. I am a mother of eight and I want government to come to my aid. I have no other person except him; my husband was all I have. Our children are very tender”, she lamented in tears.
Another widow, Mrs Christiana Iyiele, whose husband, Mr Iyiele, was killed by the suspected Fulani herdsmen, also narrated her ordeal.
Sometime in the second week of May 2018, a 14-year-old girl, Favour (surname withheld) was allegedly raped by a suspected Fulani herdsman in Umuifi community, Anioma-Isu in Onicha Local Government Area of the state.
On May 2, last year too, panic gripped residents of Amaeze community in Echiele Development Centre in Ivo Local Government Area following the arrest of suspected Fulani herdsmen numbering eight with dangerous weapons at about 1:00a.m.
That came barely five days after a man in Amaonye community in the council area was found dead in the nearby bush in the area. He was said to have been beheaded by the assailants even as some vital body parts were reportedly cut off.
Many incidents of destruction of farm crops abound in Okposi, Uburu, Amasiri, Afikpo and parts of Ebonyi South. Sadly, much more than the foregoing was believably never reported due to the rural nature of the state.
Although residents of Ebonyi State received the news of the suspension of the Ruga Settlement programme with excitement, they, however, called for the total cancellation of the proposal.
Bishop of the Anglican diocese of Afikpo in the state, Rt. Rev. Paul Udogu, was one of the leaders who demanded for the outright cancellation of Ruga settlement programme. According to him, the recent suspension of the controversial programme simply meant that the government might resurrect it in the future.
He said: “We heard that the Federal Government has suspended that policy. But we know that when you suspend something today, you can come back to it tomorrow. But we want to say without mincing words, enough is enough for that policy. In this country, we don’t want it.”
A mechanic in the state capital, Mr Chukwuma Oke, told Sunday Sun that he was not comfortable with the influx of Fulani herdsmen into the state. He said that at the moment, herdsmen have camps in many parts of Abakaliki.
“Fulani herdsmen have camps were they settled in a number of places. Some of the areas where Fulani people camped are: back of Ochudo City, Ugwuachara, Enyibichiri, Etereufie, and others. They camped in the four corners of Abakaliki town. That’s all I know about them”, he said.
When Sunday Sun visited the Ochudo City where the new Government House is being built, at the back of it was a camp of the Fulani herdsmen. Their houses were made with straws and might be about 50 or more in number.
In terms of handling the issue, Governor David Umahi who doubles as the Chairman of South East Governor’s Forum has remained the darling of Miyetti Allah.
The grouped praised him to the high heavens at the recently held, South East security summit, urging other governors to emulate him. They said that the governor appointed some northerners Technical Assistants on herdsmen-farmers’ matters and also offered free education to their children.
In Anambra State, community leaders and farmers lamented the killings, rape, assault of men and women, and also the destruction of farm land/crops by the herdsmen’s cattle which allegedly graze on their farm lands, and were ready for war if accosted by the community.
The agrarian communities of Anambra West, Anambra East and Ayamelum local government areas of the state have been at the receiving end.
Recently, attackers suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, in the wee hours of a fateful weekend in March, stormed Anam in Anambra West Local Government Area, and killed six persons, with some of them beheaded.
A witness, Mr Orjiako Nnaluo (Ideh Anam) alleged that the herdsmen swooped on the farm settlements known as Agweopia Camp, Iyiogbu Camp and Iyinkolo, respectively around 5:40a.m and started killing people, burning houses and raped many women. About 30 persons received various degrees of injuries.
He said that the farmers were yet to recover from a previous attack which claimed three lives.
Another community that has borne the brunt over the years is Mmiata in Anambra West, to the point that their women recently protested and even held their traditional ruler, Igwe Sylvester Nnose, hostage for allegedly allowing herders into their domain.
President-General of Mmiata community, Prof Peter Okonkwo recounted their plight in the hands of herdsmen to Sunday Sun, thus: “For the past three years, they have been coming to our place; they alleged that they paid the traditional ruler to be in our community for seven years. Our women last year protested against their stay occasioned to maim, rape and destruction of our crops which is means of our livelihood and the women demanded that they should leave our community. But they refused to go out of our place until I wrote to their leader, but they refused to leave, we allowed them.
“So, this time again, they started destroying our crops and sacked our people in the farm, raped our women and kidnaped our people. We don’t farm for fun or as a hobby, we live on farming, I was trained in school from proceeds from farms and today I’m a professor and all we have today came from farming. So, when you damage our crops, it is not what you play around with. So, this time, they kidnapped one man, but he managed to escape, they raped some women in our farm statements”.
He disclosed that Mmiata women forced the monarch to swear to an oath never to collect money and bring herdsmen into the community again since the herders claimed that the Igwe brought them.
The community was under security siege following an allegation that they killed a herdsman, but their half-nude women resisted attempt by a joint team of military and police to effect arrests.
However, the traditional ruler denied the allegation of collecting money and inviting herdsmen into the community.
Our correspondent gathered that the herdsmen and their cattle have left the communities in Anambra East, West and Ayamelum due to the rainy season and may return during the dry season, but their hosts have warned them not to return again for peace to reign in the agrarian communities.
The President General of Umumbo community in Ayamelum Local Government of Area of the state, Mr. Anthony Nnamma said that between 2018 and this year, the Fulani cattle rearers have destroyed over 200 farms worth millions of naira without paying compensation as stipulated by the Cattle Menace Committee set up by Governor Willie Obiano to mediate between herdsmen and farmers/communities.
He said that the only money the herdsmen wanted to pay was N2,000 per plot of cassava land destroyed by their cattle.
Recounting their experience, President General of Umuenwelum Anam in Anambra West Local Government Area, Mr. Clement Chigbata, a lawyer, said that Fulani herdsmen had earlier destroyed their farm corps before leaving the community around February/March this year.
Also, his counterpart in Nzam community, Prince Victor Okolo said that the community would not want the Fulani herdsmen into their community again due to their escapades.
But South-East leader of the MACBAN and the Sarkin Fulani in Anambra State, Alhaji Gidado Siddiki said: “We are operating in so many communities in Anambra State, in fact, in all the communities. There is no community we are not operating in Anambra State expect the one that has no bush. Our relationship with most of the communities is cordial because we have something in place by the government of Anambra State. We have a committee that is coordinating the herders and landlords in Anambra State, so we operate all over the communities in Anambra State.
“The problems we have now is like Anambra East, Anambra West, Ayamelum local governments and sometimes within Ihiala side, for Ihiala they are not used to seeing cows, it is a strange thing to them because cows were not going there before. But in Aguleri, that is Anambra East, Anambra West and Ayamelum, there are so many problems, but at least the state government has always come to the rescue.”
Saddiki alleged that some persons who were neither farmers nor herders were bent of causing friction between farmers and herdsmen in Anambra East, West and Ayamelum areas.
On loss of lives, he said: “We have lost about 15 people. We lost six in Ayamelum, lost two in Anambra East and then we lost seven in Anambra West this year. The communities lost seven and they said five people in Anambra West.”
Traditional ruler of Ifite Ogwari in Ayamelum local government, Igwe Alphonsus Ofuebe and his colleague of Eziagulu Otu, Igwe Peter Ikegbuna, both said the herders would always flout any agreements reached with them.
“The agreement was that if they destroy anything, they will pay for it and if we kill their cow, we will pay for it. But they don’t pay for the crops and farmlands they have destroyed. Even if you ask them to pay N100, they will not pay, so that is the problem,” Igwe Ofuebe bemoaned.
National President, Anambra State Association of Town Unions (ASATU), Chief Alex Onukwue, who is also a member of the cattle menace committee said the situation would have been out of hand if the governor did not set up the committee.
Although ferocious attacks by Fulani herdsmen in some communities in the Southeast have not been noticed much in parts of Abia State of late, however, Aba and the adjoining villages have not been spared of their mayhem.
Their activities have been on the increase in the northern part of the state, especially in Bende Local Government Area where apart from destruction of farm crops, a life was reportedly lost there last year.
Not long ago, Fulani herdsmen were reported to have invaded Abala community, Obingwa Local Government; about 8 kilometres from Aba metropolis with over 200 cows. They were alleged to have attacked farmers, mostly women and destroyed their crops. The matter was later put under control by the police.
In fact, the people of Umuobasi-Ukwu, Ozuitem in Bende Local Government Area are yet to recover from the latest mayhem levied on them by Fulani herders.
As if that was not enough, a Fulani herder whose name was given as Salisu Garuba in about March this year, chopped off three fingers of a widow, Mrs. Esther Ibemmecha at Pepples Road, near Aba River (Waterside) in an attempt to kill her. The offence of the woman from Ohafia in Ohafia Local Government of the state was that she asked the herder to take his cattle away from her business premises.
These incidents and others have forced people in the area, particularly farmers, to see the herders as enemies who have come to destroy their source of livelihood other than partners in progress who they should do business with.
The State Commissioner of Police, Mr Ene Okon said there had not been any serious clashes between herdsmen and their host communities since he came to the state.
Okon claimed that the conflict resolution committee which he empanelled in every local government was handling any of such issues.
“Basically there are some local governments where we have noticeable herders and they are places like Bende, Umunneochi, Arochukwu, Isialangwa North and a part of Umuahia here. Besides these, we don’t have any serious settlement in any other place. One can say that there is no problem between these two groups in the state, yet, no matter how cordial a relationship is, sometimes, the cattle stray into farmer’s farm to destroy their crops, but because of the existing understanding that the owners of the cattle will be brought to pay for damage done by their cattle, it does not happen more often as before. So, it makes for settlement without causing breach of peace,” the police boss said.
Recently, the Obokofia Egbema community in Ohaji/ Egbema council area of Imo state was invaded by herdsmen, who shot sporadically into the air apparently to scare away the villagers.
The herdsmen were as at press time, occupying part of the community’s forest and have refused to vacate it even as the Ssate government has appealed for calm.
It is the same scenario at Okpala community, Ngor, Obike, Amala; all in Ngor – Okpala council area where herdsmen have been occupying a large portion of the community’s land situated at Power Line for close to five years. Their presence has practically affected food production in the area.
A native of the area, Bon Alanwoke, disclosed that initially the community had allowed them to stay there after the herdsmen pleaded that they would only stay for just months to allow their cattle rest before they could continue their journey.
“But surprisingly, they have stayed put in the last five years and we have complained to the various security agencies to ask them to leave our land because of the damage their cattle have done to the farms around that area,” he said.
Alanwoke added that they have been harassing hapless women of the community. The situation was not different in Amala community in Ngor – Okpala council where the youths of the community had to forcefully chase away the herdsmen whom they alleged had been harassing their women in the farms.
A community leader, Amaliri Chijioke, said that their women had gone to farm only to discover that herdsmen were now camping in an adjourning forest with their cattle and family members.
He said: “Our previous experience with them wasn’t a good one because in 2014, the Fulani herdsmen who also camped in our forest here without the knowledge of the community caused us a lot of problem as most of our women could no longer go to the farm unaccompanied because of the unprovoked attacks by the herdsmen. Their cattle damaged our farms and when you confront them, they will attack you “.
The traditional ruler of Alatia Amala Community, Eze Osinachi Bennette Uduhirinwa said the vast land in the area made it easy for the herders to usually sneak into the forest and camp there.
The community, according to the monarch, would not have bothered if the herdsmen restricted their cattle to the forest, but they would knowingly lead their cattle to graze on the cassava farms.
“Early this year the herdsmen and their cattle invaded the vicarage of the Anglican Church in the community and destroyed the entire crops planted there. This particular behaviour of the herdsmen resulted in a clash between them and youths of the community. But it took the intervention of the entire elders of the community to calm down the angry youths. Even when they have left the community, but from time to time, you discover that cattle have destroyed crops and after doing that they will disappear into the bush,” he lamented.
However, some people believe that anti-open grazing law was the solution to the destruction of crops by herdsmen.
The Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) has been in the vanguard for such law, which it has submitted a draft bill on the subject to the five Southeast states houses of assembly.
Also, former Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), in Imo State, Chief George Nkworji, blamed the herdsmen menace in the state on the 8th State Assembly for not enacting the law.
“In my humble opinion, it is only an inept legislature with an equally inept leadership that will still fail to take proactive actions to protect its citizens from failing victims to herdsmen terrorism after knowing what happened in other places,” Nkworji said.
Meanwhile, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Igbo Bu Igbo Foundation (IBI) have expressed their support for ranching.
The groups, however, sounded it very clear, that they would not allow any ancestral land of the Igbo to be given to any Fulani persons for ranching.
Spokesman of IPOB, Emma Powerful, stated: “IPOB is a peaceful movement and must remain so, but cannot allow anybody to trample on us by forcing our people to release their ancestral land to them. We are aware that cattle business remains personal business in Nigeria and cannot change today. We advise Federal Government of Nigeria and those behind this evil plan to retrace their steps before it spills over, claims more innocent lives and becomes uncontrollable.”
On whether the Igbo were involved in cattle rearing; IBI said it had been there over there the years, but not through herding.
Chancellor of IBI, Dr. Law Mefor disclosed that some Igbo investors were already giving serious attention to investing in the area, while urging Ndigbo not to succumb to the cheap blackmail of Ruga.
Calling for the commercial breeding of Igbo native cow called Adama, Mefor said: “Ndigbo have to get into commercial breeding of Efi Igbo – breeding of Adama cows. It’s native to Alaigbo. The market is there. If you check the fact that there is no week there are no burials and other forms of ceremonies across Igbo land you will agree with me that there is a huge market for Adama cows in Igbo land if they are available in every local government.
“So, involvement of Ndigbo in cattle rearing and cattle business has actually become inevitable. It will create employment for the teeming Igbo unemployed youths. It will provide substitutes to the cows we see today for which our people are being killed and our women raped without consequences.”
He also advised Southeast state governments to set up funds to be accessed by individuals who want to go into cattle rearing and cattle business. “Many youths will jump at it and two to five years, Adama cows will be everywhere and cheap,” he said.