Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State and the National Chairman of Myetti Allah, Alhaji Bello Bodejo, have declared that attacks and killing of innocent Nigerian by herdsmen could cause war in the country.
Umahi and Bodejo warned that the matter needed prompt and diligent attention.
They said that specific attention should be given to herdsmen/farmers clashes in most states of the federation.
They spoke on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, at the Government House, Abakaliki, during an enlarged security meeting on the recent herdsmen/villagers clash in Enyanwu Igwe, Igbeagu community of Izzi Local Government Area, which left four persons dead with two in critical conditions.
Umahi, who described the incident in Enyanwu Igwe village as unprovoked killings, ordered herdsmen in the area to leave for the villagers to be calmed to avoid reprisal attack.
The governor said that he had engaged various measures to ensure that the aggrieved people remained calm, noting that they were warriors and could retaliate as against the wish of the government especially for the fact that the herdsmen had before now been peaceful.
He said: ”It is unprovoked killings, life is so sacred. You can’t kill people as if they are fowls. Izzi people are warriors; I physically held them not to go for retaliation. The herdsmen there in Izzi have to leave the place for now until I can calm everybody down.
“The way we are going, it can provoke national war and it will not help anybody. If there is reprisal attack, I will hold all the leaders responsible, I will charge all of you for any reprisal attack.
”The life of every Ebonyian is very dear to me. God forbid, I can’t stand where 73 people were killed like in Benue State. Some people may be fighting to die, but we fight to live, let’s use wisdom and handle the matter.
“This is a national problem; we don’t want our people to be continued to be killed. We must use wisdom to handle this problem. It is very easy to say I want all the herdsmen to leave Ebonyi but there are lots of implications,” he said.
He regretted that the agreement reached between the state government and herdsmen in the area for peaceful co-existence had been breached.
“We banned under-aged herders, we banned night grazing in the state. We have no grazing routes in Ebonyi, which means that nobody has the right to carry cattle by route to Ebonyi State and we agreed on that.
“We also agreed with the herdsmen that the first offender must be prosecuted. We said that no farmer should go to farm with a gun and no herdsmen should rear cattle with a gun or matchete, it is stick. We must abide by these rules,” he said..
The National Chairman of Myetti Allah (Bodejo) corroborated the governor that persistent killings could cause national chaos.
He said the state had been very accommodating to the herdsmen and warned that it should not be abused.
Bodejo said: “Ebonyi State is very peaceful and it is accommodating to our members, even more than some northern states and we condemn these killings in this state.
“There are minors and migrants who are causing these problems. There are also criminals moving as cattle herders who are causing these havocs.
“The Chairman of Myetti Allah of various states in the South East and the South are all here and we are not happy with what happened. We condemn these killings in totality.
“Nigeria is confronted with so many security challenges and one of them is the unfortunate farmer/herder conflict. If this conflict is not resolved, it has the potential of throwing this country into unnecessary chaos,” he said.