The Bayelsa State Government on Wednesday directed chairmen of the eight local councils to create sub-committees to partner with its Anti-Open Grazing Law Implementation Committee to check the activities of errant herders.
The Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, gave the directive during a meeting at Government House, Yenagoa, with a delegation of women from Otuasega community, top security officers and others.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the meeting was necessitated by recent cases of herdsmen violation of the anti-open grazing law at Otuasega in Ogbia Local Government Area, and other parts of Bayelsa.
Mr Ewhrudjakpo urged the various local councils to constitute the sub-committees within one week as part of proactive steps necessary to checkmate the encroachment on farmlands and destruction of crops by cattle breeders.
He explained that the sub-committees would work under the close supervision of the State Anti-open Grazing Law Implementation Committee headed by the Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, David Alagoa.
The deputy governor stressed the need for the police in the state and the 16th Brigade of the Nigerian Army to set up a swift response team to work closely with the committee.
According to him, the government was resolute in its resolve to enforce the anti-open grazing law, warning that violators of the law would be arrested and prosecuted.
Addressing the protesting women of Otuasega, Mr Ewhrudjakpo advised them to always channel their grievances to the government rather than resort to blocking of roads as a means of protest.
He gave them the assurance that the doors of the state government were always open to them for dialogue and resolution of issues.
Speaking on behalf of the women, the Otuasega women leader, Amiena Agiobu, said the women blocked the major road on Monday to protest the “unrestrained destruction” of their farms and crops by herdsmen.
She pointed out that the herdsmen had attacked one of the community youths and that the situation was gradually getting out of hand, hence the protest to draw the government’s attention to the issue.
In their contributions, Mr Alagoa and the Special Adviser on security, Akpoebi Agberebi, identified Okarki, a neighbouring Rivers State community, as the major route through which herdsmen entered the state.
They promised to beef up security in the area.
They noted that security operatives had had shoot-outs with errant herdsmen in the state, resulting in the seizure of over 150 cattle and arrest of suspected violators.
The duo added that some of the culprits were still in confinement at the Okaka Correctional Centre.
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