Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has announced a 90-day ban on all forms of cattle grazing in two communities in Ovia North-East local government area of the state, as an interim measure to forestall further killings and destruction of properties in the affected areas. The affected communities are Odighi, Odiguetue and environ.
The Governor also created a special taskforce to arrest on sight all herdsmen for vetting and enumeration.
He announced the ban on Sunday, during a meeting with members of Odighi, Owan and Odigwuetue communities at the palace of the Enogie of Odighi Community.
It would be recalled that one Pastor Pius was allegedly killed by suspected Fulani Herdsmen in his farm at Odighi community last week.
Angry family members of the deceased while protesting the killing, took his corpse in a casket to barricade the entrance into Dennis Osadebey Avenue-Government House in Benin.
According to Governor, the ban became necessary to stop further killings, adding that the duty of his administration is to protect lives and properties of the people of the State.
“We have set up a special taskforce made up of the Army, Police, State Security Service, hunters and vigilante groups to comb the bushes and dislodge squatter camps of killer herdsmen and ensure no grazing takes place in Odighi, Odiguetue communities and environs,” Obaseki said.
He added that within the next two weeks, the taskforce will go round the affected communities to get information that will help dislodge the criminals who pose as herdsmen in the forest.
According to him, “Before now, Fulani herdsmen were known for carrying sticks around to control their cattle” and lamented that “today some of them have become criminals.”
He said there is need to separate herdsmen from cattle rustlers who steal cattle, invade farms, rape and kill people, and assured that efforts are being made to identify the real herdsmen in the state.
Obaseki said his administration is set to scale up agricultural activities in Odighi Community which was once known as the food basket of the state, and pledged to fix the water system in the area and re-construct the old roads in the community to open up the area for development.
“We have taken the designs of the old roads in these areas and in two weeks’ time we will start the re-constructionof the roads. Tomorrow, government officials will be here to check the water system in the communities and fix it so that the people will have access to potable water.
A resident of Odighi Community, Uyiosa Okundia, said the people lived together peacefully with herdsmen until they started invading their farms with their cattle and eating their crops, killing their men and raping their women.
Ebohon Pius from Odigwuetue community said the only source of water in the community has been taken over by herdsmen as they now buy water and food to feed their family because they cannot farm anymore.
“We now have kidnappers, robbers and criminals in our communities who operate under the cover of herdsmen,” he said.