The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, said plans have been concluded to launch an operation to comb forests in the state for killer herdsmen in an effort to flush them out.
The governor disclosed this during a town hall meeting at Ugo Community , OrhionmwonLocal government Area as part of a fact-finding mission to address the clashes between herders and farmers.
The Governor said, ” We are going to embark on an operation through which we will vacate anybody who is not supposed to be in the forest. Good enough, there is information about their location; they cannot be more armed than the military.
” We cannot bring back the lives of those we have lost. All we can do is to make sure that we do not lose many more lives. We will support the LGA Chairman, Sylvester Okoro, to help and support the families of those we have lost.
The Governor had earlier visited Odighi community in Uhiere Ward of Ovia-North East Local Government Area of Edo State where assured that bandits who disguise as herders to perpetuate violence, kidnapping and robbery will be treated as criminals, as the state firms up its security architecture to flush out criminals from its domain.
He commended inhabitants of the community for their peaceful disposition and organising themselves to secure the community and ensure a peaceful atmosphere for all.
Obaseki said, “We must separate the issues of security and politics and never accept the issue of criminality. We have always lived with herders and those we know act responsibly. The ones we see today are different and act otherwise. These ones that cause violence, kidnapping, robbery are criminals and must be treated as such.
“I am glad you said you have always lived with the Fulani people for long in this community. This means that co-existence is not the problem but the criminal elements that cause us sleepless nights are the real problem.”
He assured the people of the community that his administration will collaborate with relevant security agencies and vigilante groups in the area to clear the criminal elements from the community, adding, “Your security is my priority and concern. I will ensure that this community is secured. I am here to appeal to you to continue to maintain peace as we would not leave you alone but work together to secure the community.”
The governor said his administration will give priority to the Independent Farmers Initiative and support farmers in the community, adding, “I will continue to protect all of you in this community and the state. We will pay special attention to our women.”
The Enogie of Odighi Community, His Royal Highness, Prince Osaretin Akenzua commended the governor for his prompt response as the Fulani herdsmen are ready to take farmlands, the source of livelihood for members of his community.
He said that the community has pledged to cooperate with any action that will be taken to get these criminals out of their forest.