(By Iheanyi Ezinwo) -All over the country, Herders have been in the news because of their disregard for law and order in communities where they find themselves. Recently, the peoe of Eleme poured into the streets, protesting the destruction of their farms and raping of their women by Herders.
As the farming season takes off effectively accross Rivers State, Herders have been reportedly taking their cows to farms and destroying crops in Aluu and other communities. No farmer in Rivers State wants to see a herder and his cows in his farm. Meanwhile, those who have suffered losses are grumbling and bitter, and the earlier the lawless Herders are called to order the better for all.
In Ekiti state, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps arrested 16 cows that were grazing on peoples’ farms. In some other places, reports have it that the Herders destroy farms, kill and main farmers who challenge their crudity and impunity, and they are hardly sanctioned.
That is the reason why some states are outlawing open grazing and recommended ranching instead, in order to check the excesses of the Herders. In Bayelsa State, Herders who have refused to subscribe to ranching have been giving matching orders to leave the state or their wandering cows would be impounded.
In our opinion, this measure is apt, and can help check the ubiquitos conflicts between the farmers and the Herders. We are therefore calling on the Rivers State Government to take a second look at how the activities of Herders are threatening peaceful coexistence in the state, and come out with clear policies and measures that will check the provocative actions of Herders before the farmers begin to resort to self help.
Going forward, we want to recommend that the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria in each state be made to pay for losses incurred by farmers because of the activities of Herders, the same way the association always insist on compensation when their cow is killed.This measure will make people to be accountable for the actions, irrespective of where it happens and who is involved.
Cattle rearing is a private business. Therefore, those who are involved must conduct their business within the ambits of the law. If they are uncomfortable with the law in a place, nothing stops them from migrating elsewhere.We cannot allow people with strange ideologies and unknown intentions disregard the laws of the land and set our communities on fire.
Every herder in Rivers State must be warned to keep their cows away from farms, by all means.Those who remaoned intransigent are a threat to public peace, and must be called to order fast before it is too late. At the time of writing this piece, communities in Ebonyi state are counting their losses over the unprecedented destruction of lives and properties by Ak-47 weilding Herders.We must not wait for this to be replicated in Rivers State before responding to the crude impunity of the Herders in Rivers State.
A stitch in time, they say, saves nine