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Enugu Farmers, Herdsmen Clash: Ugwuanyi Doles Out N8.5m

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Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi2The Enugu State Governor, Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, yesterday appealed for peaceful settlement of the fracas involving farmers in Ugwuelshi community of Awgu local government area and the Hausa/Fulani herdsmen resident in the community.

The crisis arose over alleged destruction of farm crops of the villagers by the herdsmen while rearing their cattle.

Ugwuanyin who engaged the villagers and other stakeholders in a town meeting yesterday at Ugwuleshi primary school field promised to compensate the farmers whose farm crops were destroyed with the sum of five million naira.

He also dished out the sum of three and a half million naira on the spot to the Awgu transitional chairman, Hon Stanley Okeke, for logistics aimed at securing the release of seventy six members of the community, who are being detained at a prison custody in Umuahia, the Abia State capital on allegations of illegal possession of firearms, an aftermath of their clash with the Hausa/Fulani herdsmen.

Governor Ugwuanyi while commending the Ugwuleshi community for the peaceful way they had conducted themselves since March 17, 2016 when their men and sons were taken to Umuahia, described the crisis as a security matter which had earlier occurred at Uzo Uwani and Nsukka council areas, among the villagers and visiting Hausa/Fulani herdsmen, but were resolved through the intervention of the state government.

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He, therefore, stated that “the present menace in Ugwuleshi community will by the special grace of God be settled, so that both parties will continue to live harmoniously.”

Ugwuanyi emphasized that he was personally moved to visit the community to appeal for calm because his administration was doing everything possible to ensure an that enabling environment of peace was maintained in Enugu, as a measure of attracting investors into the state.

The Enugu state commissioner of Police, CP Nwodibo Ekechukwu,who accompanied Governor Ugwuanyi in the visit, advised the community to avoid taking laws into their hand but report to security agencies at any point in time if they found a group of cattle rearers grazing on their farm crops.

He assured that the police must ensure that the perpetrators were dealt with accordingly and prosecuted in the law court, to serve as a deterrent to others.

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Earlier in his Speech, Hon Toby Okechukwu, the House of Reps Chairman, committee on works, called on the National Assembly to pass into law, a policy creating restricted grazing area for herdsmen in various parts of the country, as measure of curtailing the constant clashes among wandering Hausa/Fulani herdsmen and rural farmers in various parts of the country.

He identified the effects of climatic change resulting in desertification of various parts of Northern Nigeria and the Boko Haram threat in North East zone of the country as a factor compelling the Fulani/Hausa herdsmen to move further South with their cattle where there were abundant vegetation and that there was nothing anybody could do about it.

“Therefore, to forestall emerging crisis with rural farmers in various communities, specific grounds should be mapped out as grazing fields for the wandering Hausa/Fulani herdsmen”, he said.

Many stakeholders and political stakeholders of the community, among whom are the transitional chairman of Awgu council area, Hon Stanley Okeke, Hon Nelson Uduji, member representing Awgu South Constituency and Barrister Damian Ajah, commented on the efforts they had made to secure bail of the detained communities members, which were hampered by the Easter Holidays.

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The Traditional ruler of Ugwuleshi Community, Igwe Godwin Okosisi, on behalf of his cabinet commended Governor Ugwuanyi for making out time out of his busy schedule to come and identify with them in their pains.

He assured that the community will never take laws into their hands but tow the line of justice, in seeking for peaceful resolution of the crisis.

The Youth Leader of the community, Mr Ugochukwu Okeke, also spoke in the same direction. He stated in his address, “We are here because of Governor Ugwuanyi’s visit. We are law abiding citizens. We don’t want the problem to escalate.”

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