By Chesa Chesa
Senior journalists from Abia State have decried what they described as harassment and humiliation of the State’s traditional rulers and institution by the State Police Command.
The media professionals, under the aegis of Abia Media Forum (AMF), were particularly piqued by recent invitation to the Police headquarters in Abuja State of traditional rulers in communities where farmers confronted herdsmen who led their cattle to destroy farmlands.
A statement issued on behalf of the journalists by AMF chairman, Mr. Ben Okezie, condemned the reported double standards exhibited by the State Commissioner of Police, Janet Agbede, for not equally acting swiftly and appropriately when the community leaders officially reported the menace of the herders.
The AMF pointed out that such acts by the police hierarchy in Abia State compel the group to demand that Agbede be called to order or be redeployed from the State.
According to the statement, the communities had reported the herders grazing on and destroying their farms but rather than desist, the farm destruction was repeated and when the farmers confronted the herders, they allegedly pulled out AK47 rifles and threatened to shoot them.
In the ensuing clash, some cows were allegedly killed by the community, prompting Agbede to invite the royal fathers to the State Police headquarters in Umuahia.
The AMF said: “Our platform, the Abia Media Forum, takes exception to the Police’s treatment of the people and a First-Class traditional ruler, Eze John Akaniro, the traditional ruler of Umuobasiukwu Ozuitem, despite latter-day denials by the Police and the citizen involved.
“The people of Ozuitem first reported to the Nigerian Police Force the destruction of crops in their farmlands at Ogboko community by herders and their cows. When confronted, the herders pointed their AK 47 at the farmers..
“The Police did nothing about the report. The next time, the community reacted when a herd of cows invaded the farmlands. The Abia State Commissioner of Police then “invited” the traditional ruler and seven community leaders to the Police Command Headquarters in Umuahia.
“The Abia Media Forum condemns the apparent deployment of unbalanced scales by the State Police Command. They did nothing when the farmers reported damage to their crops but rose to their official height when the same farmers acted against the invading cows.
“We do not accept such apartheid in justice administration in our State. We are glad, nevertheless, that Commissioner of Police, Janet Agbede and Eze Akaniro denied earlier reports of detention of the traditional ruler and former chairman of the Abia State Council of Ndi Eze as well as seven citizens.
“Eze Akaniro in later accounts claimed that the Police only invited him to clarify the situation, asked him to state that they did not detain him, and set him free the same day.
“Next time we urge the Abia State Police Command to offer the same courtesy of going to the palace of revered traditional rulers in Abia State as they do in other geopolitical zones.”