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- Olorogun (Dr.) Moses Taiga, UPU President General
Apex socio-cultural organization of the Urhobo Ethnic Nationality, Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) Worldwide has called on the Federal Government to take concrete steps at ensuring an immediate stop to the incessant and inhuman killings and maiming of Urhobo people in their homelands by blood thirsty Fulani Herdsmen, warning that continued inaction and seeming powerlessness of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is a deliberate call to anarchy.
In a statement by its President-General, Worldwide, Olorogun (Dr.) Moses Oghenerume Taiga, the UPU stated that the atrocities of the murderous bands of herdsmen can no longer be tolerated as the peace, unity, socio-economic growth, development and survival of Urhobo Land and her people are under serious threat.
“The killer herdsmen have established colonies and taken control of agricultural farmlands in many Urhobo Communities, such as Eku, Igun (both in Ethiope East LGA), Uwheru in Ughelli North Local Government Area, where, for many years, they have constituted themselves into lords, confiscating lands and insisting on levies before any form of farming or fishing is allowed.
“At Ovre-Abraka in Ethiope East LGA, over two thousand, well-armed nomads have seized control of the forest and farmlands for their cattle to graze on, destroying valuable crops in the process. In these communities, innocent citizens have been killed and maimed while working on their farms, and, or, for daring to prevent the recklessness of these herdsmen. Presently, social, agricultural and economic activities in places like Uwheru, Ovre- Abraka among others have been paralysed.
“The security situation is deteriorating. Our people have become refugees in their own ancestral homelands. Farming communities, like Port Avwon and Oguname in Uwheru have been sacked by herdsmen and now ghost places; rural life in many Uwheru communities is dying, or since dead.
“In other places, farmlands have been abandoned for fear of these herdsmen, resulting to food scarcity caused by decreasing crop yields and farm supplies. The highways are becoming death traps as the herdsmen not only block the roads, without a care for the safety of road users, but also engage in criminal activities.
“In spite of our abundant oil resources, Urhobo is yet to benefit as oil producing ethnic nationality. For majority of our people, the dominant source of livelihood, food and income is farming. However, if the menace remains unchecked, famine and hunger stare many families and communities in the face, as agricultural activities have been stalled by this retrogressive development.
The statement, which was signed by UPU National Publicity Secretary, Hon. Abel Oshevire, further noted: “It is more disheartening that not a single perpetrator of these evil atrocities has been apprehended by the security agencies, even in cases when the law enforcement personnel themselves are victims of the herdsmen activities, as witnessed few months ago at Ohoro Community, along the East-West Road. Who is shielding the perpetrators from arrest and prosecution? Why are the security agencies, on the face of it, not moving a finger to sweep the affected communities and rid the confiscated farmlands and grazing fields of these murderous herdsmen? “
The pan-Urhobo umbrella body warned that it can no longer condone a situation where rampaging, armed herdsmen unleash terror on innocent lives and communities, with impunity, destroying several properties, food and cash crops and spilling innocent blood on ancestral homelands and farmlands.
“We can no longer fold our hands and watch the sacrilegious defilement and maiming of our wives, mothers, daughters and sisters, who refuse the sexual advances of these herdsmen, who pounce on them as they worked their farmlands. For how long will we endure the trauma of burying our men, husbands, fathers, sons and brothers that are killed in attacks by these Fulani herdsmen, leaving many homes, children and family devastated and inconsolable?
“The Urhobo people are peace-loving and accommodating. However, our peace-loving nature should not be misconstrued as cowardice. Every Urhobo life matters. We have confidence in the present administration’s ability and that of the security agencies to resolve this dangerous threat to the unity, peace and corporate existence of our beloved country Nigeria.
“But, we are also not amused at the continued inaction and seeming powerless of the Federal Government. The lack of practical effort by the federal authorities, in itself, is a deliberate call to anarchy. It is increasingly becoming difficult to pacify our people, especially the youths from taking to self-help in solving this provocative issue. It is best imagined the situation should there be reprisal attacks by bereaved and aggrieved persons in affected communities.
“Indeed, the people are fast running out of patience. Our Traditional Rulers, the UPU, Leaders of Thought, Elders and others are having herculean task convincing the bereaved to be calm and await definite action by the Federal Government. How much more talk of calm and patience can the people bear?
“To this end, we urge the Federal Government, led by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari to take concrete steps at ensuring an immediate stop to the incessant and inhuman killings, maiming and terrorizing of Urhobo people in their homeland by armed cattle nomads.
“We also call on the security agencies to urgently put into action strategies and activities aimed at ridding our farmlands and communities of murderous herdsmen by disarming them of their sophisticated weaponry, arrest and prosecute the perpetrators and their sponsors, and protect the lives and properties of all Urhobo citizens and other Nigerians resident in Urhobo Land, and Delta State.”