Help! Fulani Herdsmen take over Delta community, charge farmers levy to enter farms, Okowa cries out, as AIG Zone ‘5’ keeps mum on herdsmen menace in Edo/Delta

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Governor Okowa welcomes AIG Zone 5,Rasheed Akintunde to his office.

bY Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba

The worrisome issue of frequent attacks on farmers in numerous
communities in Delta State by Fulani herdsmen may have taken a new
dimension as the herdsmen have reportedly taken over some communities
and demanding toll from farmers wishing to have access to their farms.

Three communities out of the seven in a particular clan in the Urhobo
speaking area of the state have been turned into an occupied territory
of sorts by the herdsmen who would only allow people go to their farms
after paying levies to the Fulani herdsmen.

Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, raised the alarm and alerted
the Nigeria Police authorities to the disturbing development in his
state on Friday, when the when the Assistant Inspector General (AIG)
in charge of Zone ‘5’, Mr Rasheed Akintunde, called on him at the
Government House Asaba.

The AIG in charge of Zone ‘5’, comprising, Edo Delta and Bayelsa
states, said he was in the state on familiarisation tour of police
formations in the state as well as hold sessions with officer and men
of the police force.

Akintunde, who had earlier paid a courtesy visit to the Asagba of
Asaba, also had and interactive session with representatives of
different groups, including associations of farmers and herdsmen, the
Police and Community Relations Committee (PCRC) and other groups.

Nevertheless, an apparently upset Okowa urged the police authorities
to take drastic and urgent steps to tackle the menace of the herdsmen
in many parts of the state before the situation gets totally out of
hand and anarchy sets in.

The governor, who disclosed that some communities in his state have
been under siege from the nomadic Fulanis for years, warned that the
situation could deteriorate into full-blown crisis if the security
agencies failed to curb illegal activities of herdsmen in parts of the
state.

Dr Okowa told the AIG, “There is a particular community in Delta
State, at a point in time we discussed it at Security Council meeting.
And, just yesterday (Thursday) while I was in Ughelli North for my
regular Town Hall meeting, the people raised a very serious issue
about the Uwheru community. It is a very pathetic situation, because
the president-general of the community spoke on the fact that out of
their seven communities, three of them are actually occupied by the
herdsmen and the farmers are told that they must pay the herdsmen
before they can enter their farms.

“That is very disturbing because it is strange for indigenes to pay
money before they can enter their farms, and I believe something has
to be done before it evolves into a crisis situation.

“This has been going on for several years but it has gotten worse of
recent. So, AIG, this situation has to be addressed immediately as
security issue.”

The governor told the zonal police chief that his administration was
concerned about the security of life and property of every person and
their communities in Delta State, saying that the onus was on the
police and other security agencies strive to protect the different
communities in the state.

However, Okowa commended the working rapport between the different
security agencies in the state, saying it has engendered a relatively
peaceful atmosphere that has been attracting diverse investors to the
state.

According to the governor, “As a people, we know that the more
peaceful we are the more investors will come into the state. And, in
the course of this year, we will witness a lot of groundbreaking
ceremony as investors are coming to the state in their large numbers.

“We are doing a lot to provide infrastructure, we are doing a lot to
engage our youths; the more youths we engage, the less idle minds we
will have in the state.

“Delta State is largely peaceful (because) we take matters of security
serious. There is a lot of collaboration between different security
agencies in Delta State. We also have State Advisory and Peace
Building Council which is made up of experienced men and women of
impeccable character (who also) help to maintain peace in the state.”

Efforts by newsmen to get AIG Akintunde’s reaction to the pervasive
and worsening problem of herdsmen in Delta Edo and Bayelsa states were
unsuccessful as the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr
Andrew Aniamaka, shielded the AIG from newsmen who pressed forward to
interview him.

The Zone ‘5’ AIG also turned down request for interview by state
Government Press Crew and reporters, with the PPRO saying Mr Akintunde
would speak with newsmen at the police headquarters, a promise that
was eventually not kept.

However, addressing officers and men at the Delta State Police Command
Headquarters, Asaba the zonal police chief urged them to adhere to
adhere to the rules and regulations guiding the profession, saying
they could only achieve the desired success if they conduct themselves
well, and officers worked in harmony with the rank and file.

Akintunde, who said they could not afford to run away from challenges
“which are always everywhere”, also advised the officers and men to
identify dependable allies in the various communities they are
deployed in order to carry out an effective community policing.

The Delta State Police Commissioner, Mr Muhammad Mustafa, had earlier
identified dearth of manpower, shortage of adequate accommodation as
well as poor logistics base, which includes arms and ammunition, as
some of the challenges facing the command.

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