South-East governors have announced a ban on herders moving around with AK-47 rifles and machetes in the region.
The Chairman, South-East Governors Forum, Dave Umahi, who made the announcement on Saturday while briefing reporters after the forum’s meeting in Enugu, also said they had sought a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari and security chiefs over the security issues in the zone.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the meeting was attended by governors of Ebonyi, Anambra, Imo and Enugu states as well as the Deputy Governor of Abia State.
Umahi said the meeting with Buhari and the security chiefs was necessary because it would help reduce tension in the zone.
The Ebonyi State Governor said the meeting agreed on joint air surveillance in the zone with the security agencies to flush bandits out of the region.
Umahi said, “We have banned herders who move around with AK-47 and machetes, and we want the security agencies to enforce the order.
” He added, “We also agreed that we have to put measures in place to restrain movement of herdsmen and their cattle from one state to another which is a source and point of conflict with the natives and farmers.
” The governors denied being the brains behind Operation Python Dance in the region in 2017.
Some members of the Indigenous People of Biafra allegedly lost their lives when they clashed with soldiers. IPOB had vowed to attack South-East governors and Igbo leaders outside the country, claiming they conspired with the Federal Government to kill their members during Operation Python Dance.
But the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has called on the Nigeria Police and other security agencies in the country to take urgent steps to disarm herdsmen operating in the South-East region as part of efforts to enforce the ban by the governors.
It said though the ban had been long awaited, in view of the killings and destructions of properties occasioned by the activities of the herders in the region, the decision of the governors was “better late than never”.
The spokesperson of the group, Prince Uche Achi-Okpaga, said, “Lives and property have been lost; it (ban) is better late than never.
This is much-awaited decision and Ohanaeze is strongly welcoming it.“We had co-existed peacefully with these herders, especially those that had co-existed in our locality, before the introduction of criminal elements into the system and it became something.
It is necessary that the police and all security agencies, including the military, should look inward and try to fish out the criminal elements and dispossess them of the weapons.”