To tackle the rising insecurity of lives and properties posed by herdsmen in Delta state, the state government has commenced the establishment of a joint security task force.
The Secretary to the Delta State Government, SSG, Mr. Chiedu Ebie, yesterday said the state government would soon set up a joint security task force as part of its efforts to tackle the growing insecurity occasioned by the incessant kidnappings, killings and maiming of Deltans by armed suspected herdsmen.
This came as about one hundred farmers have fled their camp (residential area) in Ibusa, Oshimili Local Government Area of the state, following the invasion of their farms by suspected armed herdsmen, who attacked them.
Some fleeing farmers told Vanguard that armed herdsmen invaded their farms with their cattle and pounce on them, forcing them to run for their lives. Meanwhile, briefing newsmen in Asaba, Ebie said the state government was worried about the situation and expressed the state government determination to protect the lives and property of all Deltans as well as those residing in the state.
He said: “Government has resolved to establish a joint security task force which will be drawn from the existing security agencies (in collaboration with the respective vigilantes), but operating under an independent structure that will be backed by legislation.
“A bill to this effect will be laid before the state House of Assembly in the next few days. Our main concern is the rising trend of insecurity involving clashes between herders and their host communities.
“This matter has been under the focus of the state government since the inception of this administration and had informed the appointments and governance structure that has been created since then such as the creation of the office of Special Adviser (Peace Building and Conflict Resolution).
“This include the appointments of persons of Northern extraction and the formation of Vigilante Groups in various communities. At the same time, we have been very active in the use of intelligence and a recent outcome of this application is the demolition and relocation of the Abraka Market, which had turned into a meeting point and haven for criminally-minded persons.
“We have also been quite active in engaging with herders and their host communities to ensure mutual trust and peaceful co-existence through the offices of some of the political appointees.
“Against this background, the recent clashes are quite unfortunate, but let me reassure Deltans that the administration of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa is rising up to this challenge.
“Already, full compliments of our security outfit is investigating the incidents and I am aware that some arrests have been made as mentioned by the Commissioner of Police recently.”
The SSG who was flanked by the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu and Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Olisa Ifeajika, said, “Let me seize this opportunity to appreciate Deltans for their strong collaboration with the state government in coping with the exigencies associated with managing the COVID-19 pandemic since it made landfall in Delta State.
“The state government is well aware of the hardships and the dislocations that the pandemic has brought upon homes and businesses and have continued to reach out to the most vulnerable among us in order to help them this period.
“We will continue to work with other stakeholders including the Federal Government and the private sector to put measures in place to contain and manage the pandemic as best possible as we can.”
Herdsmen invade farms, chase farmers out of Ibusa forest Findings by Vanguard showed that many farmers and their families have left the affected camp in large numbers, since last weekend when kidnappers stormed Ogboli quarters, killed an instrumentalist and abducted about four other persons, who escaped while being whisked to their den inside the forest.
A woman, Mrs Comfort Obi and her children sighted by Vanguard, yesterday, said: “Fulani people are the ones pursuing us from our farms in the forest. The occupants are all running away from the camp where we reside as you speak to me.
We are escaping to Ibusa town to take refuge for now.” One of the residents, Azuka Nnoli, who expressed anger at the development, said, “This is dangerous. How can we be running from Fulani people in our land?
People who are engaged legitimately in farming in Ibusa homeland cannot farm because of the herdsmen. You can see that everybody is running, yet government and police are there watching, giving all manners of excuse every day.
“Go and see for yourself, the whole expanse of land, people are scared and running away because Fulani people have declared war on Ibusa people just like they did on Okpanam. All the people doing farm work in Ibusa have stopped going to farm because of Fulani people,” he added.