A’Ibom set to tackle farmers/herders clashes

By Paulinus Nta, A’IBOM |

The continued clashes between farmers and herders in Akwa Ibom State dominated discussions during the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stakeholders’ meeting on Tuesday in Uyo.

Consequently, Akwa Ibom Governor Umo Eno has directed the state Commissioner for Internal Affairs, General Koko Essien (retd) to set up a Task Force to patrol the Airport Road, Uyo with a view to clamping down the anti-grazing law offenders.

Governor Eno,who gave the directive during PDP stakeholders meeting held at the Banquet Hall of Government House, Uyo urged the task force to carry out effective policing of the long stretch of the area.

This came against the background of reports by Mr. Uwem Ita Etuk, the former State PDP Chairman, complaining about the incessant clashes between the farmers and the herders in the state with resultant losses of cassava and other food and economic plants.

Etuk, a PDP stakeholder from Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area, said in terms of cassava production, he could be qualified to be one of the largest producers in the state.

Unfortunately, he alleged, herders have been leading cattle to ravage their farmlands, leading to heavy losses on their crops in commercial quantity.

If the face-offs between the farmers and herders, according to him, are not resolved, the ARISE agenda of Umo Eno administration could be truncated due to inability of farmers to produce sufficient foods to feed and sustain a larger population in the state.

He complained that some of the herders deliberately move their cattle into farms to ravage food crops to incur the wrath of the people, and concomitant clashes with farmers, resulting in food drought in the state.

From Obot Akara, Ikot Ekpene, Mkpat Enin, Nsit Ibom, Ibesikpo Asutan to the residential estate, Shelter Afrique, Uyo, among others, many farmers had lost their lives while farm produce worth millions of Naira were lost due to the clashes with resultant destruction of cassava by rampaging cattle, Telescope investigation has shown.

Recall that on September 15, 2021, the Akwa Ibom joined other Southern states in Nigeria in enacting Anti-Grazing Bill, which was earlier passed by the state House of Assembly, prohibiting open grazing of cattle in the state.

The new law, which prescribes a N10 million fine against offenders, prohibits open rearing of livestock and recommends establishment of ranches in the state to prevent the destruction of farms, crops, ponds, settlements, and properties caused by open rearing and grazing of livestock.

It is gathered that most of the cattle belong to either politicians or businessmen of Akwa Ibom extraction, who hire the herders for fees hence the reason they erect make-shift accommodation to live and watch over the cattle in the bush.

On rampant criminal activities along the airport road, a resident, who pleaded anonymity told this newspaper that the Airport Road spanning from Ifa group of villages, Ibiaku Ishiet to Victor Attah International Airport, Uyo and some of the environs are seen as flashpoints for kidnap activities.

According to the him, some hotels spotted within the area appear to be occupied by men of questionable identities in perpetrating nefarious activities.

It has been discovered that in recent times, most of the criminal and kidnap activities in Uyo are carried out around the axis and its suburbs while the victims are usually transported through the coastal shorelines to waiting speed boats in the Atlantic Ocean estuaries en route to their hideouts.

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