By Douglas Okoro
The Ebonyi Government on Saturday in Abakaliki condemned the movement of cattle by herdsmen on major roads in the state.
Gov. Dave Umahi, who spoke at a security meeting to review the activities of the Ebonyi State Committee on Fulani Herdsmen, said government was working on legislation to criminalise the act.
According to the governor, the law when enacted will make it a criminal offence for anybody to move herds of cattle along major roads in any part of the state.
The governor was represented by Dr Eric Kelechi-Igwe, the Deputy Governor.
“We will no longer tolerate the movement of cattle along our major roads, especially those ones that we have asphalted.
“We want to protect the lives of other road users including pedestrians and vehicular users.
“We advice that our Fulani herdsmen who rear their cattle in the state should use the cattle bush path-ways to move their flock to any location they want without bringing them to our major roads.
“We will arrest and prosecute anybody that is found violating the policy,’’ Umahi said.
He said that the state government would do everything within its powers to ensure that herdsmen and their host communities coexist peacefully and assured residents adequate protection of lives and property.
“The reason for the existence of modern government is to provide and guarantee security of lives and property of every citizen, and also to provide and maintain critical infrastructure.
“There must be love, peaceful and harmonious existence among members of the various culture, tribes and religions existing in the state.
“The whole essence of our gathering is to take stock and harp on those issues that will strengthen the peace existing between us as well as unite us,’’ he added.
Umahi directed local government chairmen to inaugurate the local government area committees on herdsmen.
He said that the committees would assist the state government in ensuring that there were no hitches from the activities of herdsmen and farmers.
“The local government area chairmen will go back to their domains and inaugurate local government committees on herdsmen, who will meet regularly to review activities of the herdsmen and farmers and report to the state committee.
“The initiative is to create robust synergy between the state and local governments to enable free information flow and urgent intervention in any event of infractions between farmers and herdsmen,’’ the governor said.
Earlier, the Committee Chairman, Mr Augustine Nwankwegu, said that the committee had worked hard in line with its mandate.
He said that the policy and initiative of the government in dealing with the herdsmen and farmers issues were responsible for zero conflicts in the state.
Nwankwegu who is also the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice urged herdsmen to avoid acts capable of bringing them into hostility with farmers in their host communities.
Others, who spoke included traditional rulers and representatives from the leadership of the Hausa/Fulani community in Ebonyi.
They urged the government to sustain the policy and pledged to maintain the existing harmonious and peaceful relationship between them.