From Okey Sampson, Umuahia
The Abia State Government has condemned the activities of herdsmen it said are suspected of having masterminded recent kidnappings around Abia North.
This comes as a clash that occurred between yet to be identified individuals in Ozuitem in Bende Local Government Area and some herdsmen has left one person injured and 15 cows killed.
A lawmaker representing Bende Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon Benjamin Kalu, has called for caution as he attempts finds a lasting solution to the skirmishes.
Last week, a young man travelling with his family was kidnapped and murdered along the Isuikwuato axis of the senatorial zone by suspected herders. This was outside several other kidnapping incidents that have taken place in the area in recent times.
A government statement by Commissioner for Information Chief John Okiyi-Kalu said the ‘government condemns, without reservations, the activities of criminal herdsmen suspected to have masterminded recent brazen kidnap of innocent citizens around Abia North Senatorial Zone of the State.’
According to the statement, the ‘Abia State Government wishes to condemn in its entirety the recent destruction of farmlands by cows grazing openly in violation of extant laws of the state and Nigeria.
‘Consequently, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has directed security agents in the state to bring to justice all those involved in the criminal activities”, adding that government has fully activated all relevant components of the state security architecture to ensure the safety of lives and property of law-abiding citizens, residents and visitors to the state.’
While urging people of the state to go about their legitimate businesses without fear, government frowned at the clash which led to the injuring of one person and destruction of cows by yet to be identified individuals.
Kalu called for caution as he met with the top echelon of Abia state Police Command as well as the Department of State Service over alleged invasion of the constituency by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
He said the visit was to look for a way of forestalling further disagreement between host communities and the herders.
The lawmaker summoned a meeting of critical stakeholders in Bende, thanking the youths for observing restraint in the face of provocation.
Attending the meeting at Orji Kalu Hall, in the Bende council headquarters, were traditional rulers from the affected communities in Ozuitem and Bende, their Presidents-General, youth leaders as well as the Divisional Police officers, the two House of Assembly members from the local government and the Local Government chairman.
When contacted, the state police command’s PPRO, Godfrey Ogbonna, confirmed the clash in Ozuitem where one person was injured and 15 cows were killed.
He, however, dismissed the rumour that several houses in the area were torched during the clash, saying that no house was burnt and the injured was recovering fast.