As herdsmen attacks persist in Delta State, the state government has changed its policy of waiting for the Federal Government and federal security agencies to bring to book suspected herdsmen kidnappers and other criminals abducting and terrorising citizens of the state, invading and chasing farmers away from their farms.
Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Mr Chiedu Ebie, who confirmed the policy change in an interview with Vanguard, in Asaba, the state capital, said, “Desperate times require desperate measures and necessity is the mother of invention. You can say we are taking destinies into our hands, we are the ones that are feeling the heat, we are ones here and the ones suffering it.”
The state government has also cautioned traditional rulers and locals giving land to non-indigenes to do due diligence check on the persons so as not to create more problems for the state.
Penultimate Tuesday, it had announced plan to set up a state security outfit, “Operation Delta Hawk” to confront suspected criminal herdsmen and other hooligans operating in the state.
Meanwhile, unknown assailants have killed three persons, whose decomposing remains were discovered yesterday morning, at a notorious flash point between Ugbolu and Illah communities in Oshimili North Local Government Area of the state.
This came as Chairman, Oshimili North council, Mr Ndukwe Louis, warned that the council would come down heavily on defaulters who refuse to comply with the executive order, issued, last Wednesday, directing occupants of unauthorized camps in bushes in communities within the council to vacate them in seven days.
But some Fulani people in area on Monday protested the council’s executive order, saying they legitimately acquired the said lands and pay rent to the respective communities.
A source told newsmen that the decomposing bodies of the three victims could not be identified by the Divisional Police Officer of the area and some elders of Ugbolu community, who visited the scene.
On the killings in Oshimili, Director General, Young Nigerian Rights Organisation, Victor Ojei, told newsmen, “We can now see reasons why the chairman of the council gave marching orders for everyone occupying the bushes in any part of the council to evacuate with immediate effect or face the full wrath of the law.
“We certainly cannot fold our arms and watch our brethren have their lives cut short by evildoers. Truly, enough is enough”.
Spokesman of Ugbolu community, Ogbuechi Chibuzor Obiokolo, told Vanguard that the three unidentified decomposing bodies were seen in the area, as he called on Federal and State Governments to come their rescue.
Contacted, Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Delta State Command, Onome Onowakpoyeya, said, “I am yet to get official report on that.”
A top security officer confided in Vanguard that some Fulani persons have also been killed in reprisal attacks and there was need to manage the situation to avoid a full-blown crisis in the state.
Reacting to the protest by Fulani residents Oshimili North’s executive order, the council chairman warned that at the end of the ultimatum: “We are going to come down heavily on the defaulters, who refuse to vacate the bushes. We have communicated with our traditional rulers and security agencies.”
He explained that the order was necessitated by recent security challenges in the area, including high rate of kidnapping, killings, maiming among others, suspected to be perpetrated by elements , who have their hideouts in the bushes.
Meanwhile, clutching placards with various inscriptions, the Fulani protesters said they were not criminals , but law -abiding Nigerians, who have lived in the state from birth.
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, Mr Idris Abubakar, noted that the quit notice would boomerang, adding that it would cause more havoc than it intended to cure, if the leadership of the council goes ahead to forcefully evict them from the bushes at the end of the seven-day ultimatum.
Saying that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa could not have given approval to the executive order evicting them, Abubakar said the council chairman acted out of his own volition, urging the Federal and State Governments to come to their aid.
Delta suffering the heat, modifies strategy — SSG
Ebie, said, “If we continue to say we will not take any action, we are criticized for it. So now we are going to take action, because it is almost getting out of hand, the stories are becoming daily and so we can’t sit back when we see these things happening.
“We are just trying to rework the security architecture and it is in collaboration with the security agencies and we want to probably reposition our vigilante. Let me quickly explain something on the vigilante, you know the way the vigilante operate, they are not under one umbrella, so they sort of operate in splinter groups, because they are from different communities, not even at the local government level, in a council, you find out that vigilante exists independent of each other in the different communities.
“So one of the things we hope to achieve now is to be able to probably coordinate them, put them in proper perspective and get them leadership, school and train them up to a certain level; what to look out for and how to deal with the people because for a lot of time, they are not properly coordinated, that takes me back to intelligence,” he added.
On the revelation by the Commissioner of Police, Mr Hafiz Inuwa, that some traditional rulers were collecting money from Fulani people and giving them sanctuaries to build camps, he said it was true and the government had cautioned the monarchs.
His words: “I am sure part of the intelligence given to the CP was from the third tier of government, the council chairmen because I happened to be at the meeting when these issues came up.
“We are very much aware of it and it is common place and the thing also is have Fulanis and the non-indigenes been with us from time immemorial? The answer is yes.
“Traditionally, when people come in, it is the responsibility of the traditional rulers, you go there, you announce your arrival and they meet with them, then they give you land or whatever and it depends on whatever you want, then you are integrated into the community.”
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