YENAGOA – The Gbo Kabari Ogoni, an elite organization of Ogoni elders in Rivers State, have cried over the occupation of their farmlands by AK47-bearing herdsmen
The Ogoni Elders Forum in a statement titled, ‘Before we are killed again’, released in Port Harcourt on Monday, said the herdsmen were destroying their farmlands with their cows.
The elders in the statement signed by their Chairman, Chief Monday Abueh and Secretary, Desmond Nbete, said the herdsmen seized vast areas of their farmlands under effective cultivation across five communities of Khana and Eleme local government areas of the state.
The statement said: “Gbo Kabaari Ogoni, the Ogoni Elders’ Forum, are compelled to raise this urgent alarm on the menacing encroachment on farmlands in some Ogoni communities by armed herdsmen who brazenly graze cows on cultivated crops.
“Not only does this act threaten public peace and security in the affected communities, it also undermines the livelihood and, thus, threatens the very existence of a sizable population of our people and presages violent clashes and,
“God forbid loss of lives and more property if it is not nipped in the bud. For the past weeks, armed Fulani herdsmen have occupied vast areas of farmlands under effective cultivation in the Ogoni communities of Baa Luekun, Kpaa, Seme Luekun and Dae in Khana Local Government Area and Eteo in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State.
“The invaders armed with sophisticated weapons especially the dreaded AK-47, some of which are strapped to their cows, have driven away farmers from their farmlands, forcibly occupied the farmlands and are grazing their cows on cultivated crops.
“We are particularly concerned by the fact that when resisted confronted by community leaders and representatives of our people, they have threatened mayhem and even boasted that the powers-that-be and the security agencies are aware of their presence, and would decisively deal with our people if further confronted.”
It added: “Our people mainly depend on subsistence farming as their source of livelihood and sustenance and do not want any further attempt to add the menace of the marauding invasion by these armed herdsmen to the toxic mix.
“We are, therefore, calling on the government and its apparatus to protect our lives and property as a people even as we demand the immediate evacuation of these herdsmen and their cows from our farmlands. The lives and livelihoods of our people cannot and must not be sacrificed for cows,” they said. (The Nation)