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June 21, 2024

IWA to FG:‘Disarm Violent Herdsmen Wreaking Havoc in Agrarian Communities Across Southeast’ 

Igbo women have urgently called for the disarmament of violent herdsmen who are wreaking havoc in agrarian communities across the Southeast, expressing fear that farmers can no longer safely tend to their fields due to attacks and criminal activities by the herders.

Speaking under the Igbo Women Assembly (IWA), the women also demanded the removal of numerous military checkpoints in the Southeast, arguing that these checkpoints stifle the region’s economy and lead to the humiliation and molestation of youths.

During a press conference held in Umuahia, Abia State, over the weekend, IWA National President Lolo Nneka Chimezie appealed to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to rescue rural Igbo farmers who have ceased farming activities due to unprovoked attacks by criminal herdsmen.

Lolo Nneka lamented that no arrests have been made following the recent brutal killings of farmers, including two brothers in Enugu State, allegedly by herders. She asserted that since there is no cattle rustling in the Southeast, herders should not be permitted to carry weapons.

“The excuse by the former President that he permitted herdsmen to bear arms because of cattle rustlers is lame and should not apply in South East as there has not been any incident of cattle rustling in the zone,” she said.

“We have land but we cannot go to farm again because of herdsmen. We now depend on the North to feed. We say no to this.”

The women urged Southeast governors to enact and strictly enforce anti-grazing laws to curb the activities of herders. They also advocated for herdsmen to purchase land for ranching, rather than using their cows to destroy crops and cause economic hardship.

“Igbo people are all over the country doing their businesses. We buy our shops and build them. The same way, cattle rearing is a big business. Herdsmen should be made to buy lands for ranches and stop using their cows to inflict sorrows and economic hardship on us.

“You cannot use your cow to destroy my crops and later sell it to me. It doesn’t make sense.”

The women condemned what they called the “militarization of the Southeast” and called on President Tinubu to withdraw military personnel from the roads and return them to their barracks, suggesting the use of police mobile forces instead. 

They argued that the police are better trained to deal with civilians and called for a reduction in police checkpoints, which they claimed have become extortion points.

The IWA also argued that the primary purpose of deploying the military to the region is to protect citizens from criminals, and thus, the military should not become a source of fear for the people.

They therefore suggested the use of community vigilantes to safeguard various communities in the region, with these vigilantes reporting to conventional security agencies for prompt action.

Acknowledging the sacrifices and risks faced by the military in the course of their duties, the Igbo women strongly condemned attacks on the military or any security agency.

They particularly condemned the recent killing of five soldiers in Aba by hoodlums and extended their condolences to the military authorities and the families of the deceased soldiers.

IWA stated that attacks on the military or any security agency are unjustifiable and should not be tolerated.

“The soldiers are people’s sons, husbands and fathers. Nobody should attack them because we also gave birth to them.”

The women however called for the deployment of intelligence and other strategic measures to combat the criminal elements responsible for security challenges in the region.

They urged the military to refrain from using force, harassment, or molestation against innocent citizens, who are also victims of the activities of non-state actors.

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