Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, has revealed that following the escalating attacks on farmers and other villagers by rampaging herdsmen, policemen have been deployed to escort farmers to their farms, especially at Abraka, Ethiope East Local Government Area, the most dangerous area in the state, where cattle men have a stronghold, popularly known as “Sambisa forest.’
Though he did not give details of the escort arrangement by the police, the governor called on the Federal Government to break its silence on the problem which herdsmen posed to the state and other parts of the country and come out with appropriate strategies to tackle the menace.
The governor, speaking at his quarterly briefing with reporters at Asaba, the state capital, recently, said the state government was taking steps to contain the cattle men, but without apposite federal guidelines, even the intervention by state governments would be inconsequential.
His words: “The operatives (policemen) are providing security there (Abraka) and currently escorting farmers to their farm lands. A unit of policemen with specially trained police force has also been deployed to Ossissa to deal with the issues there too. But as I did say, the federal government needs to speak up on this matter as this is very important if we are to have a way forward on this matter.”
He stated: “We are beginning to have a new form of crisis, not that it has not been there, it concerns the clashes between armed herdsmen and our communities and farmers. It has been a very problematic thing and not something restricted to Delta State, but it is very unfortunate that it is escalating not only in Delta, but across the country and we are trying to work out the best ways to deal with it.”
“I have been talking with the security agents and the Commissioner of Police, who has been very proactive and talking with my colleagues, many of them are challenged with this, with some of them having much worse challenges than we have here.
“And if we are diversifying into agriculture, we must find a solution to this. We have called on the federal government to find an appropriate policy, but the House of Assembly is trying to work on a law to deal with some of the issues that can reduce to the barest minimum the clashes between the armed herdsmen and the locals. But we do know that without a policy by the federal government, it would still be challenging so we are hoping that the federal government would be able to come out with appropriate policies on this.,” he said
On what his government was doing concerning the stronghold of herdsmen at Abraka community, Ethiope East local government area, popularly known as “Sambisa forest”, Governor Okowa asserted: “We are aware that there are challenges there, but I will not call it a Sambisa forest. The Commissioner of Police has also been in touch with the Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, South -South.”
“As I speak with you, in the past two weeks, a detachment of two units of mobile policemen which is about 126 policemen with some specially trained anti-terrorism policemen are already resident at Abraka though at a high cost to us, and they are looking at the best ways possible to get the herdsmen in that place to move out of the forest. It is something that has to be planned in such a manner that we do not have casualties.