The Ekiti State government has declared that rampaging herdsmen destroying farmlands and bearing dangerous weapons will henceforth be arrested and prosecuted.
The government said it would no longer tolerate the acts by some herders of destroying farms and attacking innocent farmers.
It also planned to check the excesses of the unscrupulous herders by empowering security agencies in the state to ensure their arrest and prosecution.
The deputy governor, Bisi Egbeyemi, gave the warning on Thursday at a peace meeting held with representatives of herders and farmers at the Government House in Ado-Ekiti.
The meeting followed a reported attack on farmers in some communities by suspected herdsmen.
The meeting was attended by representatives of Fulani, Hausa, Ebira, Urhobo, Yoruba communities, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders and Ekiti Grazing and Enforcement Marshal.
Mr Egbeyemi warned that it was unacceptable to the state government for herdsmen to be carrying AK-47 rifles and other dangerous weapons stressing that security agencies had been mobilised to arrest anyone of them caught with weapons.
The deputy governor particularly warned the Sarkin Fulani in Ekiti State, Muhammad Abashe, that he would be held responsible should there be any further attacks on farmers on their farmlands.
He said the state government would not tolerate a repeat of attack on Orin Farm Settlement in Ido/Osi Local Government Area last year in which a pregnant Tiv farmer was killed.
“We have given a marching order to security agencies to arrest herdsmen carrying weapons. As from now, the full wrath of the law will be visited on any herdsman caught with dangerous weapons,” Mr Egbeyemi said.
“Herdsmen going about with AK-47 rifles, what are they doing with such? Will they use AK-47 rifles on animals or human beings? Tell your people, that will not be tolerated in Ekiti land.
“We are all Nigerians but somebody cannot come from his place of origin and destroy other people’s property and farm lands. We won’t tolerate that in Ekiti, go and tell your people back home.
“We don’t want war in Ekiti State, we want peace in our land. I have listened to all parties but the most important thing for our government is peace so that everybody can prosper his legitimate business.”
According to him, the government was duty bound to protect law-abiding residents including settlers in the state who are engaged in legitimate businesses and would not allow killing of innocent people.
He further said that the herdsmen were not allowed to graze their cattle on farm lands noting that such had led to huge losses and affecting yield of farmers.
Making further clarifications, the deputy governor said that the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government in Ekiti State would not cede any of its land to violent herdsmen as being insinuated by the opposition.
He however, advised farmers not to take the laws into their own hands by killing cows of herdsmen urging them to report any attack or destruction of their farms to the appropriate authorities.
Mr Egbeyemi also warned herdsmen to steer clear of government reserves which he said were not meant for grazing, adding that security would be beefed up there to arrest encroachers.
The deputy governor announced that anti-open grazing marshals would be empowered with more vehicles, communication facilities and other logistics to boost their morale and prevent clashes between farmers and herders.
The heads of the various ethnic communities made their commitments to abide by the counsels of the state government to ensure peace and cordiality among themselves.