FG goes tough with Arms bearing herdsmen

by on February 28, 2017

The Federal Govern­ment on Monday took serious steps to curb the menace of armed herdsmen who strike at will in various parts of the country, leaving behind trails of pain, anguish and blood.

It warned the marauders who parade themselves as Fu­lani herdsmen that they would no longer be allowed to move about freely with AK-47s and harass law-abiding Nigerians.

In the words of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Devel­opment, Chief Audu Ogbeh, “it is totally wrong for herdsmen to bear arms in Nigeria when their counterparts elsewhere do not carry any arms.”

Ogbeh, who spoke at a town hall meeting organised by the Federal Government in Umua­hia, Abia State, denied that the

rampaging herdsmen were sponsored or protected by the Federal Government.

The minister however apol­ogised to victims of herdsmen’s attacks in different parts of the country, declaring that “there is no justification for their barbaric activities which has brought un­told hardships on innocent Ni­gerians.”

Ogbeh responded to ques­tions by participants at the fo­rum who expressed anger over the docility of the government on the atrocities of Fulani herds­men in the country. They ac­cused the government of using the herdsmen to achieve a hid­den agenda.

The town hall meeting was attended by the Minister of In­formation, Lai Mohammed; his Trade and Investment counter­part, Okechukwu Enelama; the Minister for Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige and the Minister of State for Mines and Steel, Abubakar Bawa Bwari.

Ogbeh expressed concern over the threat posed by herds­men to agrarian communities in the country, stressing that the situation portends grave danger to Nigeria’s quest for food secu­rity.

The minister said that the government had set up a com­mittee headed by one Gen. Nze to monitor the movement of herdsmen and stop them from wreaking further havoc on their host communities, especially farmers.

According to him, the “Fed­eral Government is training 3,000 agro rangers’’ to protect farms against destruction by cows. “Herdsmen should not be allowed to carry AK-47 ri­fles in Nigeria because in oth­er countries they bear no arms. The Federal Government is training 3,000 agro rangers to help secure our farms.”

“We need rice to feed the people, not cows. We won’t al­low herdsmen to attack farmers again. I am a farmer, and I have been a victim, and I know how it pains,’’ he said.

The minister, who said that diversification of the economy remained the only viable option out of the current economic re­cession in the country, hinted that government had conclud­ed plans to establish modern co­coa plantations in Abia, Ondo, and Cross River States.

He said that 20 million tonnes of cocoa is targeted from the plantations per an­num, adding that improved co­coa seedlings that yield in two years would be used in the plan­tations.

Ogbeh noted with delight that Nigeria had been recog­nised as the seventh highest pro­ducer of rice in the world and called on the citizens to embrace agriculture instead of looking for white collar jobs.

He said the current admin­istration will set up 100 mills across the country to help in the processing local rice.

Similarly, Ogbe said that 200 palm oil mills would be a set up in oil-producing zones in the next two years to help in oil palm processing.

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