Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi has threatened to arrest herdsmen in the state who flout his directive of not wandering with their cattle around the state.
Umahi made the threat in Abakaliki on Saturday while inaugurating a committee to check disputes between communities and herdsmen, saying that he had given the last warning on the issue.
He said that the committee had enormous task because of incessant cases of cattle moving around in the state and destroying crops and others agricultural produce.
“Cattle must be in one location and the owners should search for food to feed them because our lands are occupied with agricultural ventures.
“I recently inspected areas we planted flowers and trees in the new city and beheld cattle all over the place.
“I asked my Aide De Camp (ADC) to ascertain if one leaf was eaten by the cattle because I would have ordered the arrest of the people rearing them.
“It will be difficult for us to feed ourselves when cattle move around and likewise to achieve our ‘one man, one hectare policy’,” he said.
The governor said that he was an advocate of Ebonyi people living peacefully with the Fulanis, some of whom had been in the state for over 70 years.
“The issue is not where the herdsmen come from because I will resist the cattle movement even if they are owned by Ebonyi indigenes.
“I will readily offer assistance to the herdsmen to enable them keep the cattle at a place because I will hate to see the cattle eating the rice that I laboured to cultivate.
“I borrowed N2 billion for the rice projects across the state and the Federal Government also invested funds which will break my heart if the cattle eat the produce.
“We can do without cattle but cannot do without food as it is proven that the dung from the cattle destroys the asphalt used to construct roads.
“The moment the dung drops on the road, it burns the asphalt due to its high-acidic nature and this is one of the major reasons for road failures across the country,” he said.
Umahi commended the commissioner of police in the state for her efforts in preventing escalation of the disputes and urged the committee to tour the 13 local government areas to ensure that the directive was obeyed.
Chairman of the committee, Mr Augustine Nwakwagu, thanked the governor for his efforts in ensuring peace between the herdsmen and communities in the state.
“We are lucky not to record serious cases of disputes between these categories of people as the committee’s inauguration is instructive to avert such grave occurrences,” he said.
On her part, the Commissioner of Police, Mrs Peace Ibekwe-Abdallah, thanked the governor for inaugurating the committee and pledged that they would work assiduously in ensuring that his directives were heeded.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the committee consists of heads of security agencies in the state, traditional rulers, local government areas caretaker committee chairmen, and other stakeholders.