Community leaders, farmers’ groups and other stakeholders in Edo State are weighing the option of securing legal backing for a well-equipped vigilante group to monitor the activities of herders across the over 2,400 communities in the state as part of solutions to the clashes between farmers and herders in the state.
The suggestion was made during a public hearing of stakeholders in Edo South Senatorial district, organised by the Technical Committee set up by Governor Godwin Obaseki to resolve the clashes.
A member of the Technical Committee and Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Hon. Monday Osaigbovo, said the purpose of the public hearing is to enable the state government get feedback from the people on the way forward in resolving the farmer-herders crisis in the state.
He said the clashes have continued to cause destruction of property and loss of lives in the state, adding that the governor set up the technical committee on farmer-herders crisis to proffer lasting solution to the issue.
Stakeholders at the public hearing include the Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Immigration, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), traditional rulers, civil society groups, government officials, Local Government Area (LGA) Chairmen from Edo Senatorial district, among others.
A representative of All farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Emmanuel Odigie, noted that to stop the crisis, there was a need for local vigilante groups to be established with legislative backing to monitor the activities of herders across the 2,400 communities in Edo State. He suggested that the herders must be profiled as well as their cows.
Chairman, Orhionmwon LGA, Hon. Sylvester Okoro, and his counterpart in Ovia North East LGA, Mr. Scott Ogbemudia, said the herders have wreaked havoc in their councils, leading to the loss of lives and property of their people.
Okoro said that apart from destruction of farm produce, the herders also kill, kidnap, and rape the people of the council, forcing farmers to stay away from farms, which is affecting agricultural production.
Chairman, Uhunmwonde LGA, Hon. Napoleon Agbama called on the security agencies to check the influx of herders into the community, while his Ikpoba-Okha counterpart, Mr Eric Osanyande said the council resorted to setting up a vigilante group to check the activities of herders.
Chairman, Ovia South West LGA, Comrade Destiny Enabulele urged traditional rulers to stay in their domain and assist their subjects and security agencies to check the activities of these herders in the community.