Herdsmen, farmers’ conflicts still on in Anambra State – Group

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Herdsmen

By Anayo Ezugwu

THE League of Anambra Professionals, LAP, has urged the Anambra State Government to end herdsmen/farmers conflict in the state. LAP said that conflicts were still occurring between herdsmen and farmers in Anambra State, although, in reduced numbers in recent times. It regretted that the conflicts have resulted in deaths between 2014 and 2019, but said there was no verifiable death so far in 2020.

In its fact-finding report over the conflicts in the state, LAP, which is a body of professional men and women from Anambra State, said that the state government needed to collaborate with private interests to establish grazing reserves or ranches in the state. It also urged the government on strict implementation of the state order against the movement of cattle except to agreed destination points in the state.

According to the group, Governor Willie Obiano should ban night movements by herdsmen between the hours from 7 pm to 6 am. It regretted that herdsmen graze their cattle very close to people’s homes posing threat to lives and properties through inevitable confrontations, a situation that places the people in the communities under severe stress and mental trauma, with palls of fear pervading their environment.

“Herdsmen graze cattle on farmlands, have chased people away from their farms, and do harvest people’s crops to feed their cattle. The herdsmen often move at night and very early mornings, making it difficult for people to detect their presence and prevent their activities on their farms. Different groups of herdsmen move through the communities, making it difficult to correctly identify and hold any accountable for damages to people’s farmlands.

“There are cases where the herdsmen allegedly entered people’s houses. An example is Hon. Nestor Nneamaka Okoro, a former Chairman of Orumba North Local Government, whose fence was pulled down and his house broken into by the herdsmen, who carted away some of his household properties after using his home as a base. The herdsmen activities are rife during the dry season. However Upland areas like Aguata, Orumba North and South practically experience the problem all year round, while the riverine areas, which are usually flooded during the rainy seasons experience the problem more during the months of November to March, which are the main migratory periods for the herdsmen,” it said.

But LAP commended the Anambra State government on its approach in managing the crisis. The report stated that the state government took a laudable step by setting up the Anambra State Cattle Menace Control Committee, CATCOM, to address the herdsmen/farmers conflict in the state and find lasting solutions to it. “The measures which focus on mitigating the impact of conflicts, include compensation for crops/cattle and to bereaved families in cases of death.

“The LAP fact finding team was informed that CATCOM has played a major role in reducing conflicts between herdsmen and farmers in the communities. A notable point of commendation by the farmers was the strategy of on-the-spot assessment of damages by the committee, which promotes promptness in determining culpability for damages. However, the unfortunate consensus among the farmers was that while CATCOM operates to restrain the farmers from self-help measures against the herdsmen, the latter do not respect agreed decisions by the committee as they generally fail to pay prescribed compensation, and when they do, they underpay the farmers on actual losses suffered.

“The result of this unfortunate prevailing situation is a state of evident helplessness pervading the communities, enveloping both the leaders (traditional rulers) and the people. A state of distrust also exists in some areas with accusations that some community leaders have been compromised with gifts by the herdsmen. There is also the general feeling that the security agencies such as the police, were partial to the herdsmen, thereby emboldening them to continue in their destructive ways.

An obvious likely conclusion from the current situation in the affected communities is that any seeming prevailing peace is tenuous with an undercurrent of tension that could erupt at any moment and consume properties, if not lives. This calls for urgent attention, especially with another dry season fast approaching with the attendant migratory moves back to the communities by the herdsmen.”

– Sept. 14, 2020 @ 16:35 GMT |

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