The Abia State government has accused herders of kidnapping citizens of the state. John Okiyi Kalu, the state commissioner for information, made the allegation in a statement on Monday.
He said the state government also condemned the destruction of farmlands by cows grazing openly.
This came as the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, yesterday, warned herdsmen to obey the order of South East governors on open grazing or relocate elsewhere.
The Abia State commissioner said Okezie Ikpeazu, the state governor, has directed security operatives to investigate the destruction of farmlands and the kidnapping cases in Abia north senatorial district.
He asked residents to go about their daily activities because the state government is responding to the situation.
“Abia State Government wishes to condemn in its entirety the recent destruction of farmlands by cows grazing openly in violation of extant laws of the state and Nigeria,” he said.
“It also condemns, without reservations, the activities of criminal herdsmen suspected to have masterminded recent brazen kidnap of innocent citizens around Abia North Senatorial Zone of the state.
“Consequently, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has directed security agents in the state to bring to justice all those involved in the criminal activities.
“Government also frowns seriously at the wanton destruction of cows by yet to be identified individuals whose aim is to exacerbate already existing tensions.
“Government has fully activated all relevant components of the state security architecture to ensure the safety of lives and property of law abiding citizens, residents and visitors to the state.
“We therefore call on the people to go about their legitimate businesses without fear as government is on top of the situation and will spare nothing in protecting Abians.”
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) had issued a 14-day ultimatum to south-east governors to enforce the anti-grazing law.
IPOB also lauded the courage of the governors for heeding the call of the people to ban open grazing in the region.
Recall that governor of Ebonyi State and Chairman, South-East Governors’ Forum, David Umahi, on Monday, said governors in the zone had insisted on the ban on open grazing and movement of cows by foot into the zone.
Media and Publicity Secretary of the group, Emma Powerful, who gave the warning in a statement, said when the two-week ultimatum given by the group on open grazing expires, IPOB would move in to deal with any herder flouting the law.
While warning herdsmen in Biafra land, irrespective of tribe, to restrict themselves to the law of the land or relocate to regions where open grazing is allowed, he reminded them that the era of occupying forests and grazing on people’s farms was gone.
The statement read: “We the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, ably led by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, received with delight the news of a statement credited to the Chairman of South East Governors’ Forum, Dave Umahi, to the effect that open grazing has been banned in all states of the zone.
“IPOB wishes to acknowledge the wisdom of the governors to respect the people’s will for the first time. If the governors had not been seized by useless fear and trepidation over the Fulani before now, our region wouldn’t have been in this mess.
“We, therefore, want to aver, and assure the governors that our gallant Eastern Security Network, ESN, will ensure strict enforcement of the ban which is also in line with a subsisting but neglected judicial pronouncement in 1969.
“At the expiration of the two-week ultimatum already issued by our Leader for open grazing to end in Biafra land, IPOB and ESN will move in to deal with any herder flouting the law.
“Since the law enforcement agents are too weak or have wittingly failed to enforce the ban, we can no longer afford to sit idly and watch the wanton destruction of lives and crops of our people. ESN will do the needful. We shall no longer allow law breakers to have a field day after inflicting physical and economic harm on innocent victims.
“The 12 northern Muslim states already have their Hisbah police enforcing their Sharia law, yet they claim Nigeria is one.
”Alcoholic beverages worth millions of Naira belonging to Biafrans doing their legitimate business in those states have been callously destroyed by these overzealous elements and nothing happened.
“Yet some wicked mortals masquerading as herders are daily openly grazing their cattle on our farms, kidnapping our folks for ransom, killing and raping our mothers and sisters. The security agents not only show blind eye to these unimaginable criminality but sometimes provide cover for the perpetrators.
“We, therefore, wish to remind all herders in Biafra land that the era of occupying our forests and grazing on our farms is gone.
”They have to vacate our forests and relocate to cities where other human beings live. Wandering about with cows can no longer be tolerated on Biafra soil.
”Anyone interested in cattle rearing will either build a ranch as it obtains in civilized societies or leave Biafra land. Do not say you are not warned!
“We advise all herdsmen in Biafra land, irrespective of tribe, to restrict themselves to the law of the land or relocate to regions where open grazing is allowed. Our patience will elapse after the expiration date of the 14-day ultimatum by our leader.”