Governor, David Umahi of Ebonyi State has again told Fulani herdsmen that movements of cattle from one place to another in the state would no longer be tolerated.
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A statement on Saturday by his Chief Press Secretary, Emma Anya, quoted him as saying: I frown very deeply about seeing cattle still going around in Ebonyi State. I gave a directive that no cattle should move around. Cattle should be in one location. Their owners should go and look for food for them .
"Yesterday (Thursday) when I went to the new city (Centenary City) where we just planted flowers and trees, I saw cattle all over the place. I asked my ADC to go and see if one leaf was eaten by any of the cattle, because, I would personally order the arrest of those people.
Let me warn and warn very seriously. I don't want to see cattle moving up and down in Ebonyi State."
The governor told the committee which has some Fulani herdsmen as members, that he feared that the cattle could pose a serious threat to his administration's agricultural programme.
He added, "You can see our land is almost occupied with agricultural activities. If the Federal Government is asking us to feed ourselves and cattle are moving up and down, how do we continue with that?.
"I have been an advocate that Fulani people that have been living with us for over 60 to 80 years can't be asked to go because they are our brothers and sisters. They have to live with us. But I warn that even if an Ebonyi man has a cow and the cow is moving up and down, I will resist it.
"So, is not a question of where you come from, it is a question of our policy in this state. How do we achieve our one-man, one-hectare agricultural programme If cows are still moving up and down."
Governor Umahi however said the government was ready to assist the herdsmen in whatever form to make them keep their cattle at designated places.
He added, "If there is assistance that government will offer to our brothers and sisters to keep their cattle in one place, I will do so freely. But I will be very angry to see a cow on the rice farms that we have laboured much. We borrowed N2 billion for rice plantation. It will break my heart to continue to receive calls that cattle are destroying our rice farms."
Appealing to communities not to chase away Fulani herdsmen away, the governor called on the cattle rustlers to keep their cattle wherever the communities give them.
" Let us co-exist; let us live together with love. We are one people. Nigeria cannot be a great nation, if we have ethnic problems and hatred for one another. We can freely exist any where we find ourselves," he advised.
The Augustine Nwakwegu-led committee on herdsmen also comprises some members of the state Executive Council, some traditional rulers council, the commissioner of police, and the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps.
.....By Philip Nweze, Ebonyi State