From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Ebonyi Governor, Dave Umahi, has declared that those opposed to the ban on open grazing as recently canvased by southern governors want the killings associated with herders/farmers clash to continue.
He made the declaration while speaking at the Presidential Ministerial Press Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, yesterday. He also alleged that foreign herders had infiltrated the country wreaking havoc on lives and property.
His statement was in response to comments by Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, that the governors had no power to ban open grazing in their states.
But Umahi said those who hold that view misunderstood the situation.
He said southern Nigeria lacked grazing routes, noting that allowing cows to move freely would mean trespassing on peoples lands and property, saying it was associated killings and crises from such trespassing that led to the setting up of the Eastern Security Network (ESN). He said while many northern states are ready for ranching, the idea was being sabotaged. He, however, called for the funding of cattle ranches through the Federation Account.
“Anyone that is saying that there should be no ban is on the other hand saying that this killings should continue and that is what gave birth to Eastern Security Network (ESN). Whether we support it as governors, or we don’t. The people tend to support it because of foreign herders pretending that they are rearing cattle, but killing our people. In my village a white man handling construction was kidnapped.”
Umahi also said the South-East geopolitical zone is against secession and that they do not want war, but want to belong to a Nigeria a peaceful Nigeria, where justice and equity prevail.
Umahi, who is also Chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum, also lamented the increasing insecurity in the South East, but noted that the peaceful agitation by IPOB and other groups in the east have been hijacked.
He said the agitation for a better region by MASOB, IPOB, and the Eastern Security Network (ESN) are offshoots of years of neglect by pervious governments and called on youths and others to aggregate their demands for onward transmission to the Federal Government by the governors of the South East.
“The situation in the South-East is a mixture of reality, fake news and war propaganda. Are there rightful agitations in the South-East. Yes. Has it turned violent? Yes. It’s been hijacked. In the South-East, we don’t want war, we don’t want to secede, we want to be a part of a fair Nigeria where justice, equity and freedom exist. I believe in dialogue, and that we can sit down to know and resolve our differences and strengthen our cooperation as a people.”