By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Henceforth, herdsmen found grazing their cattle outside the designated site at the Bayelsa Palms area, around Elebele, Yenagoa, would be arrested and prosecuted, the state government said on Friday.
This is coming after a reported apprehension and relocation of a group of herdsmen from the Ijaw National Academy in Kaiama, Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of the State to the designated grazing site.
The state government had recently come up with a decision to restrict all cows in the state to a designated area to avoid a breach of the peace, especially clashes between the herders and farmers.
Sounding a note of warning, in a statement in Yenagoa, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security Matters, Chief Boma Spero-Jack, stated that despite directives to this effect, a number of herdsmen had refused to relocate to the grazing area.
He restated the government’s position, stressing that the decision to create a grazing site was purely for security reasons to avoid a possible breakdown of law and order.
He reassured the people of the state that government would stop at nothing to protect the lives and properties of the citizens, as well as protect the overall interest of the Ijaw nation.
“ We call for the cooperation of every Bayelsan, as the government is doing its utmost best to avert any likely breakdown of law and order.
“ Government urges all to be vigilant and not be deceived into believing that the leadership of the state is ceding valuable land of the state to herdsmen.
“ Such unfounded stories are the handiwork of mischief makers, who are more interested in themselves and the political gains they want to make and clearly not about the interest of Bayelsa State and the Ijaw Nation”, Spero-Jack said.
Meanwhile, the Niger Delta Youths Coalition (NDYC), has condemned the reported killings in Ohali-Elu town in Rivers State allegedly perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen.
The youth group urged Ms Ankio Briggs, an Ijaw activist, who had earlier mobilised from his home state in Rivers to lead a protest in Bayelsa against the allotment of a space for the herdsmen, to hurriedly lead a similar rally against the attacks in her state.
A statement yesterday signed by its spokesman, Matthew Fobiri, said it should now be clear to Ms Briggs that the decision of the Bayelsa state government to restrict the herdsmen to the palms area in the state was to avoid the kind of killings which took place in Ohali-Elu in Rivers State.
“In the light of the terrible fate that has befallen the Rivers community with many deaths recorded in just one attack, Ankio Briggs owes Bayelsa an apology for kicking against a proactive measure put in place to check any form of security breach that may lead to loss of lives as was the case in Rivers”, the group said.