Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi has directed security agencies in the state to begin immediate arrest and prosecution of Fulani herdsmen caught carrying guns and other dangerous weapons across the state.
The governor gave the directive at a stakeholders’ meeting aimed at dousing the tension triggered by the incessant herdsmen-farmers clash, which was attended by the representatives of farmers, Fulani herdsmen, security agencies and other stakeholders, at the House of Chiefs, Secretariat, Ibadan.
Ajimobi also directed the immediate registration of herdsmen and possibly their cattle to separate genuine pastoralists from criminal-minded herders, as well as the convocation of a monthly stakeholders’ meeting at the state and local government levels.
The governor said that a surveillance unit would be created under the Oyo State Joint Security Outfit, Operation Burst, to curtail the menace of cattle rustlers, murderous herdsmen and farmers who may take the laws into their own hands by poisoning cattle grazing on farmlands.
He called on residents to join hands with the government to secure the state by being vigilant and to always report any form of security breach to the appropriate security agencies instead of taking the law into their own hands.
The governor wondered why anybody would be carrying guns and other dangerous weapons all in the name of herding cattle, saying such a person should not be regarded as a herdsman but an armed robber.
He said, “”The flagship of our administration’s programmes and successes has been the maintenance of peace and security and we will not allow anybody to truncate this. Fulani people are good people; if not I will not allow my only son to marry a Fulani lady. We must separate criminals from the good people.
“Why will a herdsman be carrying gun? Henceforth, any herdsman found with guns should be arrested and prosecuted. Owners of cattle found grazing on farmlands and destroying crops should also be arrested and prosecuted, Any farmer that poison cattle should also be arrested and prosecuted.
“But, we must realise that some of these herdsmen come all the way from Niger Republic and Chad for grazing. Not all of these herdsmen are Nigerians.
“The people have their roles, while the government also have a role to play in finding lasting solutions to the menace. We must all participate in the security of our communities. Yes, it is the responsibility of government to guarantee the safety and security of the citizens, but we cannot do it alone.
“We must learn to live together in peace. A special surveillance unit will be created under the Operation Burst to curtail the excesses of those concerned and they will be adequately equipped and given necessary logistics.”
The governor who advocated ranching as a long-term solution to the crises, enjoined the stakeholders to deliberate on a mutually-beneficial solution in the interim, stressing that ranching was the best global practice.