Leaders of Hausa and Fulani herdsmen in Abia state have signed a peace accord with community leaders on Thursday in a bid to forestall violent clashes between herdsmen and their host communities and ensure a peaceful coexistence.
The accord was initiated by the Abia state government, the police, and leaders of various communities in the state.
It was signed at a Town Hall meeting organised by the state committee on herdsmen and farmers conflict resolution at the Police Officer’s Mess in Umuahia, the state capital.
Chairman of the committee and Commissioner of Police, Adeleye Oyebade, while addressing the inaugural meeting with leaders of Hausa/Fulani community, traditional rulers, town unions, women and youth groups, stated that the meeting became necessary because “the unity of this country is paramount and not negotiable.”
Oyebade explained that the Abia State Government set up the committee to avoid the kind of violent clashes herdsmen have been having in neighbouring states and called on all parties to proffer a solution that would lead to a peaceful coexistence.
He also disclosed that the committee has designed short, medium and long-term resolution and urged the traditional rulers to carry their people along in negotiating with herdsmen.
While reminding all the parties that the constitution of Nigeria provides for peaceful coexistence and freedom of movement, he stated that “just as the herdsmen have the right to migrate to any part of the country, the law does not allow the destruction of another’s property/farm.
The same way, communities should not kill the cows in reprisal but should take the proper channel of conflict resolution, including dialogue and reporting to security agencies.
He also charged the Divisional Police Officers, DPOs, in the affected local government areas to replicate the state committee with heads of security agencies.
“The issue of destroying of farms crops, killing of cows and poisoning of water which in most cases breed trouble is what we are trying to find a lasting solution to with the aim of avoiding unnecessary conflicts now or in the future,” the police chief stated.
Abia state Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, in his remark stated through his deputy Chief of Staff, Chief Ukpai Agwu Ukpai that the committee was set up to avoid any crisis between the farmers and herdsmen, adding that the Commissioner of Police was made the chairman because of his track record. He urged the parties to cooperate with the committee.