Home » Don’t worsen security situation with revised RUGA – Nsukka elders tell Gov Mbah

Don’t worsen security situation with revised RUGA – Nsukka elders tell Gov Mbah


As tension continues to mount following the plans by the Enugu State Government to establish ranches in some parts of the state as a means to curtail clashes between Fulani herders and the indigenous communities in the state, a group known as Nsukka Zone Elders Forum (NEF), has advised the Governor of the State, Peter Mbah against taking steps that could worsen the security situation in the state.

The group, in a statement, condemned what it described as a revised effort to reintroduce the already suspended Rural Grazing Areas (RUGA) scheme of the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari, and called on the state government to be creative about solving the security challenges in the state rather than the present effort which, according to them, seeks to deprive the people while pacifying the migrant herders.

The statement was endorsed by Barr Okey Ambrose, (Uzo Uwani), Prof Denchris Onah, (Isi Uzo), Gen. Chris Eze (rtd), (Udenu), High Chief Cyril Ossai, (Igbo Eze North), Barr P.I.P. Ezugwu, (Igbo Eze South), Arapa Engr Joel Ezugwu, (Nsukka), Barr Sam Otoboeze, (Igbo Etiti), Barr Emeka Awkadigwe, (Uzo Uwani), Dr Felix Ugwu, (Igbo Eze South), Prof L.C. Ogenyi, (Isi Uzo), Chief Nnanwike Nwodo, (Igbo Etiti), Barr Peter Odo, (Nsukka), Chief Dr Frank Okenwa, (Udenu) and Chief Dr Matthias Omeh, (Igbo Eze North).

It would be recalled that tension has heightened in the state following information that indicated the plans by the state government to establish cattle ranches for Fulani herdsmen in some parts of Uzo-Uwani and Isi Uzo Local Government Areas.

Although the State Commissioner for Information, Aka Eze Aka, dispelled the rumours, he however admitted that the state government has plans to establish ranches in some parts of the state as a means of containing the incessant clashes between community people and migrant Fulani herders.

The Commissioner, in a statement he titled, “Ranching is not RUGA,” outlined the state government’s objectives in initiating the controversial programme.

“The intention of government is clear on the matter. Armed bandits and kidnappers in the name of herders have for long taken advantage of our forests and farmland to commit heinous crimes, abduction, rape and killings.

“The government of Enugu State has resolved to put a stop to these and introduce ranching, the most modern way of rearing cattles,” the Commissioner said in his statement.

But while accusing the state government of demonstrating insensitivity to the attacks and killings of the people by suspected Fulani herdsmen in the past, NEF said the selective pacifist approach to solving the killing by herdsmen of indigenes of the state demonstrates a lack of capacity by the government of the day.

“The only interpretation any right-thinking citizen of Enugu State will give to the ongoing disgraceful development is that the Enugu State Government is determined, for whatever reason, to take community land and gift the same to the same people who have been accused of masterminding the brutal killings of the people as compensation for the several years of visiting bloodletting and instilling fear on these communities,” the group said.

While arguing that the government’s strategy would promote the aggressor against their victims, the group argued that only a weak government or one that is not sensitive to the feelings of the people would reach such a conclusion.

“Having reviewed the developments, especially the government’s show of contempt for the sensibilities of the people and the prevailing security situation about the aborigines-herders relationship over the years, we are left with no choice but to conclude that the Enugu State Government is determined to worsen the security situations in the parts of the state so selectively chosen for these obnoxious programmes.

“If the Enugu State Government believes that the only solution to stemming the farmer-herder clashes is to take the land belonging to the people and donate same to those responsible for the clashes, the interpretations possible are that government is too weak to protect the people or that they are aligning with the oppressors to visit even more harm on the innocent,” NEF said in the statement.

NEF wondered why the Enugu State Government was bent on reintroducing the programme despite the national outcry that led to its suspension, months after it was mooted by the federal government nearly five years ago.

It called on all well-meaning Nigerians, particularly the Ohanaeze Ndigbo to prevail on Governor Peter Mbah to discard the programme in the interest of peace and justice.

NEF also reminded the state governor that the primary responsibility of the Government of Enugu State is to provide security for the people of the state, as a result of which effort should be made to avoid pacifying perceived perpetrators of crime in the drive to secure the people.

It also pointed out that while the government is vested with the powers to use and allocate land, such must be governed by overriding public interest, and wondered what the overriding public interest is in taking land from natives and allocating same for the commercial use of other people.

Drawing a corollary with what they claimed was happening in Ugwuoba, a cattle resettlement located in Oji River Local Government Area of the state, NEF said history has shown that creating such settlements has increased rather than stem crime rates in such areas.

“We also wish to remind Governor Peter Mbah of what is happening in Ugwuoba, Oji River Local Government Area, where the people have been exposed to criminality of all forms, ranging from robbery to drugs trade among others. We note that when a military governor of Enugu State, Colonel Robert Nnaemeka Akonobi created that settlement, he intended to solve the crises between the owners of the land and migrant herders.

“Ever since this was done, the people of the area have continued to witness heightened crime waves, leading to recent complaints and threats to security.

“The situation in Ugwuoba, we fear, will replicate in the Nsukka geo-cultural zone, if this present programme is allowed to be implemented,” the statement read.

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