Herdsmen: Bloodbath averted in Abia

* Muslim cleric urges quick action
From Steve Oko, (Umuahia) and Hafsat Adebayo (Bauchi)
What would have resulted in a major bloodbath between herdsmen and locals of three communities in Ibeku Umuahia, Abia State was on Sunday averted following the timely intervention of security operatives.
Tension mounted around the affected communities including Isiadu, and Mbom Ibeku as rumours of imminent invasion by herdsmen filtered in.
According to a community source, herdsmen had continued to destroy farms in the area with their cows which grazed openly on farm lands.
Pleas by the locals for the rampaging herdsmen to vacate their communities fell on deaf ears, hence their decision to confront them.
The source which claimed a farm in Mbom Community was allegedly set on fire by the herdsmen, said the herders had mobilised to invade the communities for daring to confront them.
As tension mounted, armed police men and soldiers were quickly deployed to the affected communities to avert the looming crisis.
Efforts to get police reaction did not yield any fruit as the Police Public Relations Officer ( PPRO) Geoffrey Ogbonna did not pick calls put to his cell phone.
The Commissioner of Police, Anthony Ogbizi also did not pick his calls as at the time of filing this report.
But when contacted, the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor, and a member of the state’s Farmers/ Herdsmen Peace Committee, Chief Ukpai Agwu Ukpai confirmed the incident.
He however said it had been brought under control as the military and police were immediately drafted to the area as soon as government got wind of the brewing tension.
Ukpai who said no casualty was reported appealed for calm as investigations into the matter had been launched.
He said the State Government in collaboration with the security agencies had initiated talks with the Myetti Allah, Hausa/ Fulani leadership in the state, and the traditional rulers and key stakeholders of the affected communities.
There have been pockets of clashes between herdsmen and farmers in parts of the state particularly Abia North over incessant destruction of crops by cows.
The State Government had earlier rejected the proposed establishment of cattle colony by the Federal Government saying that Abia does not have enough land for farming activities let alone for grazing.
Farmers/Herdsmen Clashes: Muslim cleric urges quick action
Meanwhile, a renowned Islamic scholar in the country, Sheikh Dahiru Usman Bauchi has called on the federal government to take immediate measures to avert the escalation of the lingering herdsmen/farmers clashes in some parts of the country.
The cleric, a fulani by tribe, made the call on Monday while addressing journalists in his residence in Bauchi.
Sheik Dahiru Bauchi who condemned the wanton killings of innocent lives and destruction of properties in the affected states, said Islam was not in support of such action.
The Islamic scholar who said law abiding Nigerian herdsmen should not be restricted in rearing their animals in any part of Nigeria, called on relevant authorities in the country to have a second look on the anti grazing law enacted by Benue state government for the sustenance of peace and unity of the country.
Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi who said under Islamic law, animals should be ranched by their owners, said in the event the owner could not achieve that, the authorities should provide grazing reserves for the animals which he said a�?have rights to be protected by humansa��.
He therefore called on the federal and states governments to provide grazing reserves, earth dams and cattle routes in order to prevent re-occurence of such incidence in any part of the country.

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