Emegha speaks on Ebonyi law voiding grazing along tarred roads


By Victor Nwegede

Hon. Stanley Okoro Emegha, the Ebonyi  Commissioner for Internal Security, Border Peace and Conflict Resolution has called individuals rearing cattles and other animals to never violate the government rules on grazing as the violators of any law in the state cannot be spared from being punished.

Emegha gave this warning on Friday while clarifying journalists on the state government's stand to ensure fulani-herders and farmers clashes end in Ebonyi communities.

This is following the reaction from the South East Zonal President of Meyitti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, Ahlaji Gidado Siddiki saying he is not comfortable with the law stopping his members grazing cows on the tarred roads in any part of Ebonyi State. "I am not comfortable with the idea of not grazing on the road, must we fly?" he said.
Ahlaji Gidado Siddiki, MACBAN President, Southeast.

But the Commissioner has cleared that no violator of any law in the state shall go free.

According to him, the state government has said to control the security challenges, Fulani herders grazing in the state shall not graze along the tarred roads.

"As far as you are in Ebonyi State, and you have a questionable character, we can't  spare you. You have seen a traditional ruler arrested. You have seen a development centre coordinator arrested. You have also seen a town Union president arrested. It means the government of Ebonyi State has pattern. If you are constituting nuisance, you are causing public destruction. We will arrest and take you to an appropriate place", he said.

NATIONAL PANEL reports that the government has directed all local government Chairmen to liaise with the leaders of the Myetti Allah to produce identity cards for herders grazing within the premises of their areas.

The government equally directed the state Chief Judge to set up a special court for the trial of rape, cult cases, headsmen clashes in the State and these were contained in a communique raised at the end of an Enlarged security council meeting with zonal and state MACBAN leadership which banned Fulani herders from grazing inside the new Government house and schools in the State.

Communique adopted partly read: Among the issues we looked at, is the killing of members of Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association in Ebonyi state, the rape cases that were reported by community leaders, in some cases the Development Centre Coordinators and some council Chairmen in Ebonyi state, the destruction of our farmlands and the attacks on some communities by some persons suspected to be Myetti Allah.

“We arrived at this communique that henceforth, members of Myetti Allah and their leaders must take responsibilities of any destruction of farm, crops, properties including any attack on any community in Ebonyi state. Rape cases are not exempted from this. They must produce within seven days for arrest and prosecution of perpetrators of such dastardly acts from among their members.

“Community leaders and traditional rulers, Development Centre Coordinators, Local Government Council Chairmen, and our political office holders must take responsibilities and produce killer armed herdsmen for arrest and prosecution within seven days.

“Henceforth, herders must reside in the communities where they graze their cattle. The various communities are by this meeting empower to arrest and hand over to the police any under-aged cattle rearer grazing within their communities and the Chief herder who is a custodian of such under-aged person should be prosecuted by the police in accordance with the police by our law.

“All persons carrying arms on our concrete roads must be arrested and handed over to the police within seven days for prosecution by the community where such infractions occur”. 

In addition, the Commissioner said, if the President of MACBAN, South East, Ahlaji Gidado Siddiki who has been attending the meetings and was given all the opportunities to air his views including his members before the communique was drafted and adopted happened to counter any of the sections entailed he was body present and absent minded.

Emegha referring to Siddiki hinted: "Whatever thing he has said, he can't obey because he is not comfortable with the rule containing in our communique should be seen as an off camera and not welcomed. I don't think it is possible. It couldn't be coming from him because he knows fully well, there is no way you can't respect the law of the people for the interest of peace and unity as far as Nigeria is concerned. 

"There is what we call English law and native Law. Nigerian constitution is all about the English law but within our different communities,  in the local areas and at the state level like ours, there are still laws that keep them together for peaceful co-existence and morals to thrive, because, cultures of people are not the same. For such an exalted personality in considering the position he occupies cannot come out to tell pressmen that they are not ready to go by the a section of the rules. That means he was not with us in the meeting. He was body present and absent minded." 

Further, he noted: "For the obvious fact that, His Excellency Governor David Umahi understands that we are one Nigeria, and he has given everybody a space to be living peacefully. Here in Ebonyi State, we don't talk about non-indigenes, or that Fulani-herders will cease operating in Ebonyi, he doesn't want to hear such thing. He always advise them as our culture differs with theirs but we are people of the same country, we need to reason together to be living together peacefully.

"But you can't be allowed to graze on people's farms, destroying crops. This is not acceptable in our government because our culture abhors economic waste and violence. 

"The court is not inception and you can as well understand that from day one we had that meeting, court had not even gone on recess. And as such, you can't arrest them, even if the taskforce commences work immediately after that meeting, you can't arrest any of the erring herders and keep them more than necessary. Our government hands issues with human face, as such we just told them not to graze on the tarred road. We have to give them time to tide up by following the rules adopted. We had meetings with the state, zonal and LGA representatives and as such they need to relay the information down to their people by educating them more. It is not something that can be done a day or two days. After that meeting, we had about another meetings up to three to four times with them. We didn't say they shouldn't bring their cow into Ebonyi State again. All we say is to carry the cows through truck, come to the Hausa quarters here and offload. Do not trekk from Enugu of any nearby states with your cow grazing along the roads because it is obvious before you get here, your cows might have destroyed alot of farm crops and at the same time the tarred roads which can trigger conflict. We are not trying to maltreat herders, but let them learn how to get advanced and adaptive to the changes taking place every day for the interest of peace and unity with community they found themselves. 

"I believe the Meyitti Allah living in Ebonyi State cannot disobey our laws. Those going contrary to our rules are from Enugu, some are coming from Cross Rivers and other states.  The cattle breeders have been causing one problem or the other and by the time we carry investigation and we found out that they are Fulani-herders from another states. With the findings, I believe that the Executives and members of Meyitti Allah Cattle Breeders in Ebonyi State will not disobey the laws.  We know very well that the laws are neither against them nor against us, it will help us to live together peacefully as one Nigeria."

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