Ijaw leaders under the auspices of the Ijaw National Congress (INC) and the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) have sent a warning message to herders who have invaded Ijaw communities.
They observed that there had been alarming invasion of communities and farmlands of Ijaw and indeed Niger Delta people by “these intruders who wield dangerous and lethal weapons.”
They have, therefore, called on “the Niger Delta states to properly enforce their anti-open grazing laws and protect lives and property while guaranteeing confidence in the people to access their farms and make a living without fear and apprehension, especially because lost lives are irreplaceable.”
A communique read to newsmen on Tuesday by the National President of the INC, Prof. Benjamin Okaba, after a one-day joint leadership meeting of the INC at the Ijaw House, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State said,
“These herdsmen have carried out gruesome killings of our brothers and sisters in their communities and farmlands across Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers and Ondo States, among others. The gory tales of the barbaric and dastardly acts of these agents of provocation have headlined reports, especially in the past couple of years,” he said.
Among INC national officials in attendance were Atamuno Atamuno, 1st Vice President; Ebipamowei Wodu, Secretary; Philip Agu, Treasurer; and Kenneth Odiowei, Financial Secretary. IYC officers in attendance included Frank Pukon, National Secretary; Ebilade Ekerefe, National Spokesman; Clever Inodu, Central Zonal Chairman; and Kroma Eleki, Deputy Chairman, Conference of Ijaw Traditional Rulers and Elders (CITRE); Austin Enekorogha, Secretary; Gabriel Benamaisia, Clerk, National Representative Council (NRC); and Princess Ebiseri A. J, Deputy Leader, NRC.
Okaba recalled a recent incident on January 24, 2023, when some suspected armed herdsmen were reported to have brutally murdered a father and his son at their farm in Toru-Angiama in Patani Local Government Area of Delta State.
He said, “On the 25th of January 2023, a woman was butchered in her farm at Sabagriea community in Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA of Bayelsa State.
“Also in Bayelsa, suspected herdsmen, in February 2021, attacked a farmer and his son on their farm in Otuoke community, Ogbia LGA. They survived deep machete cuts inflicted on them by the herdsmen.
But a woman and a youth in Emakalakala, also in Ogbia area, were not lucky as they were killed by these herdsmen in the first quarter of 2022. The list of similar incidents in other Ijaw communities of the Niger Delta is endless.
“The incessant violent invasions and attacks smack of an expansionist agenda to annex and control spaces and lands by these herdsmen and their masters with the sinister plot to subjugate Ijaw nation and the Niger Delta.
“We strongly condemn in its entirety all clandestine attempts laced with terrorist agenda by herdsmen and their masters to take over the bushes of Ijaw nation.
“We are resolved to resist by any means possible all orchestrated attempts by strange elements to terrorize and chase away Ijaw people from their ancestral lands and heritage.
“We support all anti-open grazing laws duly enacted by the Houses of Assembly of Niger Delta states and assented to by their Governors to promote peace and sustainable development.”