Awka – Anambra State Government has directed security agencies to treat any AK-47 wielding herdsman seen in the state as an armed robber.
The State Governor Willie Obiano gave the directive on Tuesday at a Special Stakeholders’ Security meeting held in Awka.
The meeting which is in response to the increasing insecurity in the state, had in attendance, heads of security agencies in the state, traditional rulers, Presidents-General, youth groups, the State Vigilante Service among others.
Addressing the meeting, Governor Obiano revealed that there is an ongoing census of Fulani herdsmen in the state in collaboration with their heads, stating that after that, all itinerant cattle herders will no longer be allowed to pass through the state.
He said the state already has a working arrangement through which it had successively resolved farmers/herders clash in the state, but regretted that the advent of the gun-carrying herders had caused much trouble in the state.
“We have found out that the people who don’t pay the compensation we introduced, are the itinerant herdsmen who do not know the arrangement we have on ground because they are passing by. So, after this census, we will no longer tolerate those itinerant ones to pass through our state. For those wielding guns, we will no longer tolerate them and I have directed the security agencies to pull them down whenever they are found because they are criminals and not herdsmen,” he said.
The governor also said he has directed the new Commissioner of Police in the state, to activate the special security arrangements that had helped flush out criminals in major flashpoints in the state including Upper Iweka, Okpoko, Nkpor, Obosi among others.
He tasked the traditional rulers to step up their game and ensure that they initiate measures to secure their people.
According to him, the youths are very important and must be integrated into the various internal security units of the community as they know most of the criminals and their hideouts.
The state helmsman assured that his government will continue to provide the necessary support to enable the police and other security oufits in the state to be at their best in the discharge of their duties, calling on traditional rulers to mobilize the support of wealthy citizens within their communities towards assist the local vigilante groups in their duties, stating that security must be seen as everyone’s business.
“Government alone cannot fund security effectively and that is why it is important for all to see this task as our collective responsibility. Those with money should support in providing infrastructure and equipment. Those with intel should not hesitate to avail the security agencies for prompt action,” he concluded.
In his remarks, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu appealed to people of Anambra State and the entire Southeast region, to be wary of the emerging trend of attack on Police personnel and formations in the zone.
IGP Adamu who spoke through the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Finance and Administration, Force Headquarters Abuja, DIG Joseph Egbunike harped on the need for stakeholders in the region to speak out in condemnation of the development and take urgent steps to address it, saying the region must learn from what is happening in other regions where insurgency has gone out of hand.
“People of the Southeast must rise against this ugly trend which is gradually creeping into the region. It is worrisome that the key stakeholders have remained indifferent to these incidents. The monster that is being bred, if not tamed immediately, may grow to overwhelm the zone, just like is seen presently with Boko Haram and other insurgent groups. If there are agitations, they should be discussed and solutions found and not the resort to killings and destruction of public property,” he emphasized
The Police boss however warned that the Force will not fold its hands and watch the killings of its personnel, stating that government will follow the perpetrators and fish them out.
IGP Adamu commended the state government for initiating the meeting, expressing the hope that the stakeholders invited will take the message down to their localities and ensure an end to the anomaly.
The Chairman of Southeast Traditional Rulers Council and Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe in his speech, observed that security of the state and that of the Southeast region is key to socio-economic development in the area, hence the need for the meeting.
Some community leaders including Igwe Christopher Okpala of Akwaeze Community, the President General of Nkpor, Chief Innocent Mbagha and a youth leader from Aguleri community, said the timing of the meeting was apt to nip the growing insecurity in the state, in the bud, promising to take the message down to their grassroots.
They, however, called on government to invest more in equipping the local vigilante groups as the most effective security system, and urged the Police hierarchy, to stop treating the issue of killer herdsmen with kid gloves.
In their opinion, the Federal government cannot allow gun-carrying herders to continue to ravage their communities, killing and raping women, while branding agitators terrorists.