Bayelsa State Government has urged traditional rulers and security agencies to complement its efforts in implementing the state anti-grazing law to forestall the herders-farmers crisis in the state.
The Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo made the call at a meeting with first-class traditional rulers, Chairmen of Local Government Areas and some top security officers in Government House, Yenagoa at the weekend.
In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr Doubara Atasi, he said the call became imperative in view of worrisome intelligence at the state government’s disposal pertaining to increased espionage activities in most communities.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo maintained that the unconfirmed security reports also had it that there was a mass build-up of arms in various forests by people with sinister plans, who come into the state under the pretext of carrying out fishing, farming and other businesses.
He, therefore, stressed the need for people of the state, particularly the traditional rulers and youths to be vigilant as well as strengthen community policing across the state.
The Deputy Governor explained that the anti-grazing law was not made to witch-hunt anybody, but rather a proactive measure to avoid banditry and other security challenges facing most states in the country.
He added that the meeting was convened to discuss strategies to enable community leaders to monitor the movement and activities of strangers in the various communities in accordance with existing laws.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo also restated his advocacy for the government to ascribe a well-defined constitutional role and authority to traditional rulers to enable them to contribute more effectively towards community and national development.
His words, “I can tell you substantially that most of our communities are undergoing espionage. We have some intelligence, though not yet confirmed, that there is a mass build-up of arms in our various forests, which we are not knowledgeable of.
“I can assure you that some of these people who come into our communities in the name of fishing and farming, know our forests more than us and they are just waiting for the time to strike. That’s how it started in the South West and other places in this country.
“It is already here with us. So we should stop playing the ostrich by trying to cover the smoke with a basket. It is better to open up the smoke and deal with it. Therefore, all hands must be on deck to nip the herders/farmers problem in the bud
“So, this meeting is to enable us to set an agenda on how to do what is called ‘due diligence and person mapping’ for us to clearly know the people who come into our communities in accordance with the law.
“Henceforth there must be a way of profiling any person who is not an indigene that comes into our communities: where the person is from, how long he or she will stay and what the person will be doing during his or her period of stay.”
The meeting had in attendance, the Chairman, state House of Assembly Committee on Security, Colonel Benard Kenebai (Rtd), Chairman, State Traditional Rulers Council, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, the Commissioner of Police, Mr Mike Okoli, the State Director of Security, Local Government Chairmen, several first-class traditional rulers and Divisional Police Officers (DPOs).
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