Some embattled communities in Ovia South West local government area of Edo State have taken the state governor, Godwin Obaseki to task over the menace of killer herdsmen, which has caused fear and anxiety in the affected areas. They have therefore appealed to the governor to, as a matter of urgency, dispatch relevant security agencies to the communities and forests with a view to flushing out the herdsmen and restore peace.
Coming together under the aegis of ‘Save Ovia Group’ to protest the incessant invasion and killings by herdsmen, the traumatised residents told journalists at the state secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalist, (NUJ) that the appeal became necessary because they have become refugees in their own land.
The aggrieved villagers who carried placards with various inscriptions such as: ‘Obaseki, wake up. It is not cows that voted for you’; ‘Sorrow, pains, hunger, tears in our land’; ‘Owners of cows are owners of Ak-47’, among many others, were armed with a letter addressed to the governor, titled ‘Save Our Soul’, and signed by one Johnbull Ewaremi on behalf of the 14 affected communities.
The letter reads in part: “Lately, we have come under heavy attacks from herdsmen who came to sack the dwellers of some of the communities, burnt houses, destroyed household properties, burnt farms, and caused their herds to feed on our farm produce.
“As if these were not enough, they have continued their unwholesome mindlessness by killing, maiming, raping of innocent farmers who are out to seek daily bread. As we speak now, there is no single soul in Abumwenre II, and Igolo communities because these marauders have vowed to kill anyone who steps in there, and also made these communities their camps.
“It will interest you to know, Your Excellency, that people from these communities mentioned are now IDPs in other neighboring villages as they have had to scamper for safety. Our people are faced with untold hunger, frustration, and hopelessness because they cannot go to their farms where they have sown”.
Receiving the protesters, chairman of the council, Festus Alenkhe, sympathised with them and called on the state House of Assembly to pass into law the anti-open-grazing bill in the state.