The governments of Benue and Nasarawa states have warned that traditional rulers, communities’ leaders and local government chairmen in areas where farmers/herdsmen crisis erupts will henceforth be sanctioned.
At a meeting in Lafia on Monday, Gov. Gabriel Suswam and Gov. Umaru Almakura said that the decision was part of the stopgap measures put in place to stem the rising wave of violence in the border communities of the two states.
Suswam told newsmen that they had agreed to set up ad-hoc committees that would be composed of traditional rulers, local government and community leaders in Guma, Gwer-West and Makurdi Local Government Areas of Benue; as well as Keana and Doma Local Government Areas of Nasarawa State.
He said that the ad-hoc committees would be responsible for surveillance of the areas, with the view to identifying criminals, who were fuelling the crises through dubious acts and pitching the people against themselves.
Suswam said that the report of the joint peace committee that was set up in 2011 would be presented to the two state governors in April.
He expressed the hope that the implementation of the report’s recommendations would bring a lasting solution to the crises.
He, nonetheless, blamed the incessant crises in the border communities on some criminal elements who connived to rustle cattle and rob people, stressing that cattle rustling would not be possible without the active connivance of a herdsman.
Susmam stressed that the lingering crisis was not between Nasarawa and Benue states, as it was being portrayed in certain quarters, adding, however, if not nipped in the bud, the crisis could further degenerate.
He, therefore, urged the chairmen of local government areas along the border to share intelligence on how to curtail the activities of criminals, reiterating that the government would henceforth hold them responsible for any breach of peace.
He also implored traditional rulers the area to exchange visits regularly so as to foster peace and unity amongst their subjects.
Also speaking, Almakura said that the Nasarawa State Government had taken some measures to tackle the incessant crises in the border communities of the two states.
He, nonetheless, stressed the need for the proper scrutiny of vigilante groups in the area, adding that the activities of some vigilantes had aggravated the crises.
Besides, Almakura said that his government was planning to establish security bases in all identified flashpoints, saying: “To that effect, the mobile police unit in Akwanga will be moved to Lafia.”
He also said that more roads in the rural areas, particularly those with difficult terrain, would be constructed to facilitate easy access for security operatives.