The Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, has warned Fulani herdsmen and local farmers in the state to maintain the peace or face the wrath of the law.
The governor said the state would neither ban grazing nor farming.
This was contained in a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Edo State Governor, Peter Okhiria, on Monday.
He quoted Oshiomhole as saying this at a stakeholders’ meeting, which was convened to find lasting solutions to the clashes between the herdsmen and farmers in the state.
The governor said if not properly managed, the crisis “can escalate beyond what we can manage quietly.”
He added, “Edo State Government will prosecute any rapist, any kidnapper, any rustler, who takes people’s cows. I think listening to all the stakeholders, whether royal fathers, farmers, Fulani herdsmen, everybody agreed that neither rape nor robbery, nor destruction of farms, nor rustling of cattle is acceptable.
“I think we are all committed to ensuring that we put an end to any of these practices so that all of us can continue to live together in peace, harmony and in security.
“In every conflict, you will find someone you can describe as the oppressor. Somebody might be blamed, but every conflict can be resolved if all the parties approach the solution with honest intentions and whatever agreement reached, we faithfully try to implement. That way, there will be peace.
“Like the migrant Fulani representative said, ‘you cannot decree a solution, but we can work towards a solution.’ And we have to use both carrot and stick approach.”
Oshiomhole said the state would set up about 19 committees, one committee in each of the 18 Local Government Areas of the state to resolve the recurring clashes.
He explained that the membership of the panel would include traditional rulers, farmers, community leaders, youth leaders and the representatives of the Fulani herdsmen.
Meanwhile, the Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, has declared that the incessant attacks on farmers by Fulani herdsmen in the South-West and some other parts of the country must be checked.
Mimiko feared that if the attacks of the herdsmen were not curtailed urgently, the development might lead the country to the precipice.
The governor called on President Muhammadu Buhari and other stakeholders to be more proactive about the attacks in order to stop them from degenerating to a serious crisis in the country.
Mimiko stated this on Monday after a meeting with the members of the Oodua Peoples Congress in his office in Akure, the state capital.
The Fulani herdsmen allegedly invaded the farm of a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae, last week and killed a guard, identified as Ayodele Ige, who was one of the leaders of the OPC in the state.
The herdsmen had earlier in September, 2015 invaded the farm, where they kidnapped Falae, a former finance minister, and only released him after three days after collecting a ransom.
The governor said he had met with the security agencies in the state over the issue, assuring the OPC members that the killers of the deceased would soon be fished out.
Mimiko added, “We are moving towards the precipice and the earlier we pull back… and it requires all the stakeholders from the President and all major stakeholders to come together on how to resolve this issue.
“These herdsmen must be cautioned, these wanton destruction, audacious incursions into other people’s territory cannot continue for too long.
“We have put in place a lot of fire-fighting efforts in the last 48 hours to ensure that there are no retaliatory attacks from the OPC. “
The Ondo State Coordinator of the OPC, Mr. Pius Ogunsanya, appealed to the government and the security agents to arrest and prosecute the killers of Ige.
He vowed that the group would avenge the killing of the OPC leader if the government failed to arrest the perpetrators of the heinous act.
“We are appealing to the governor to beg the Federal Government to find solution to the activities of these herdsmen. They must find the killers of our man; if they do not find him, we too may go after the herdsmen,” he stated.