Herders/crop farmers clash: Senate condoles with Kogi communities, to convoke national summit

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The Senate has resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to help find lasting solution to the continuous herders and crop farmers clash across Nigeria.

The resolution followed a motion by Senator Isah Jibrin(Kogi East) at plenary on Wednesday

The senate said the ad hoc committee would work towards convoking a national summit that would involve all stakeholders.

The Senate also called on Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), to assist the affected communities with relief materials and other forms of support necessary for their rehabilitation.

Presenting the motion, Sen. Isah Jibrin, said there was an urgent need for rehabilitation of
Agojeju Odo, Ajokpachi Odo, Bagaji and Bagana communities in Omala Local Government Area of Kogi State, which were affected by herdsmen attacks.

Jibrin, who came under Order 41 and 51, said Omala Local Government Area, which covered about 1,667 km2 with a population of about 176,000 had been facing recurring attacks by gunmen.

The lawmaker said the attacks had led to killings and destruction of properties including farmlands, thereby rendering many homeless and with no means of livelihood.

According to him, one of the latest attacks occured on April 5 at Agojeju Odo, Ajokpachi Odo, Bagaji, and Bagana communities.

Jibrin said the attack led to the killing of 21 people, including women and children as well as wanton destruction of farm produce.

He added that the incident led to the exodus of over 30,000 homeless people to other parts of Kogi State.

The lawmaker said another attack happened on 30th April, where gunmen attacked Ajokpachi Odo community in Omala LGA, killing no fewer than three persons and rendering the entire community desolate.

He added that the incident led to the destruction of the health facility in the area, leaving injured residents with no medical care.

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He further said, records had shown that the attacks which has happened over time, had resulted in the killing of over 500 citizens.

He said the killing was in addition to wanton destruction of public and private properties worth hundreds of millions of Naira.

“After much persuasion, the displaced persons have resolved to return to their ancestral homes, but cannot afford shelters and have no means of sustenance.

“Furthermore, educational institutions have been destroyed, with many buildings and other facilities completely burnt down, thereby making it absolutely difficult for children of the affected communities to access educational facilities.

“The number of out-of-school children in the affected communities is disheartening and this poses a serious danger to the future of the children, the communities and the nation in general.

“Apart from destruction of schools, health centres are obviously non-existent to cater for the health needs of the affected communities, as the few existing ones have been lost to the hostilities,”he said

The lawmaker said, the development had led to high mortality rate in the affected communities.

“Markets, business centres, shops and various business outfits in the affected communities have been completely destroyed, throwing the people into an inevitable state of economic helplessness”he said.

Contributing, Sen. Diket Plang (Plateau Central) condemned the attacks, saying it was one too many.

He said there was an urgent need for the Federal Government to come to the aid of the affected communities to enable them return to their ancestral homes.

He said, it was not proper to allow Internally Displaced Persons(IDPs) to live in camps, adding that it would lead to moral decadence.

“This is farming season they should be helped to return to avoid food security problem”he said.

Sen. Victor Umeh(Anambra Central) expressed concern that government had not been able to deal decisively with the problem of herdsmen ravaging communities across Nigeria.

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He said, “herders should be told that what they are doing is business and those who do not want to confine their business to a place should be told they do not have the open latitude to invade people’s land kill them and go free.

“An action should be taken to ban migrant grazing.”

Umeh, who said ranching had been proposed over time, to put cattle in confined settlement, added that Nigeria should be planning towards coming up with lasting solution through the enactment of a legislation.

He called on the federal government to summon the political will to put a stop to the problem.

Sen. Adams Oshiomole(Edo North)
said the continued resolution by the Senate and observance of one minute silence in honour of the dead without corresponding results were not good enough to bring an end to the problem.

“Under your leadership Mr Senate President, we should set up an ad hoc committee, reflecting the six geo political zones, to call other stakeholders together for a lasting solution.

“This act must stop as farmers are unable to go to farm.

“These people are visible and is it that we lack the will to tackle this.

“There should be a holistic approach to it as our tears will not solve this problem; we need sustainable solution.

Sen. Sunday Karimi(Kogi West) said the the problem of farmers and herdsmen clash had become a recurring decimal that must be tackled.

“Last week two young men were shot by herdsmen in my senatorial district and they died.

“Also, two weeks ago an industrious woman in my senatorial district returned from farm to her shop where she does some petty business and she was kidnapped.

“Ransome was paid before she was released,”he said.

The lawmaker called for the convocation of a national summit to bring an end to the problem.

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Former President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said the problem had been long standing, leading to the loss of lives and property.

He said the problem was predominant in the North and later spread to every part of Nigeria.

“To me it is a security and economic issue.

“We should say it as it is because we are looking for solution.

“Some of the things I will say may not be pleasant to some people but I have to say it if we must find lasting solution to the problem,”he said.

The lawmaker said if open grazing must be banned, the federal government should support herdsmen to set up ranches.

According to him, unless that is done there might not be an amicable solution to the problem.

Lawan added that since grazing was the only trade the herdsmen were involved in, any solution that would be proffered, should be done to ensure a win-win situation.

“The livestock industry is worth N30 trillion and we cannot neglect it.

“While we deal with those who kill our people, the federal government should find a way to assist herders,”he said.

“Sen. Titus Zam (Benue North), called for an enabling law to tackle the problem.

He said, “all over the world, what guides human behaviour is enabling law.

“This issue has defied all security efforts.

“The only thing left is a law prohibiting open grazing.

“Once the law is not there everybody becomes free. So, open grazing prohibition law must be enacted.”

The President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, sent his condolences to Sen. Jibrin and the communities affected.

He thanked the lawmakers for their meaningful contribution, saying “it is a national menace.

“We should find an end to this menace because even herders lose their lives”he said.



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