Despite the offer of land by Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State to the federal government, the people of Kogi East, cutting across nine local government areas in the state, have petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari, saying they have rejected cattle colonies in Igala land.
The local government councils are Ankpa, Bassa, Dekina, Ibaji, Idah, Igalamela/Odolu, Ofu, Olamaboro and Omala.
In a petition signed by the President of the Igala Project, Mr. Atayi Babs, and the Secretary General, Mallam Musa Haruna, which was made available to THISDAY in Lokoja yesterday, the group stated that it vehemently opposed the move.
According to the petition, it was predicated on the fact that it would eventually lead to breakdown of law and order with killings and wanton destruction of property, “as our people, who are largely farmers, are not prepared to host Fulani herdsmen or cattle colony masters in our land.
“Our position is further reinforced by the multiple acts of war and mayhem being unleashed daily on our innocent farmers and hapless law-abiding citizens in their villages, homes and farm lands by rampaging Fulani herdsmen.
“Mr. President, between June 2015 and December 2017, Igala land has witnessed several killings as a result of herdsmen’s violence in several areas including Ebeje where eight people were killed and farms set ablaze; in Agbada/Agojeju, 19 people were slaughtered; Edede, two persons were killed, six in Oganenigu, three people killed in Ojapata, five people killed in Ojuwo Anawo. All these happened in Dekina Local Government Area.
“The story is not different in Ofu Local Government Area as well as Ojuwo Omachi and Akpagidigbo where the incessant attacks of herdsmen have claimed the lives of over 20 persons.
“In Abejukolo and Bagana in Omala Local Government Area, the reign of terror resonates loudly so much that our people no longer move freely to and from their farm lands because of the fear of killings, maiming and rape with some villages like Ebakume wholly sacked and entire farm produce, granaries/silos completely burnt.”
The group said: “Despite the brazen nature of the aforementioned acts of criminality by these would-be occupants of the so-called cattle colony, none of them has been arrested or made to account for these crimes as these heavily armed herders terrorise our land, flaunting their prowess in the handling of AK 47 rifles and double barrel guns.”
They added: “Mr. President, our opposition to this move and the hasty approval given by the state governor is further reinforced by the inescapable fact that under your presidency, murderous Fulani herdsmen have enjoyed subtle protection and favouritism to the extent that these herdsmen, who now treat Nigeria as a conquered territory, will eventually go beyond the purview of the so-called colony to destroy farmlands, maim and kill under the slightest provocation.
“In view of the above and many more, we the undersigned concerned people of Kogi-East, Kogi State, North-Central, Nigeria, state as follows: ‘We do not want cattle colony or grazing reserve in our land. We reject any attempt to convert or transfer the ownership of ancestral lands in Igala to cattle colony master or owners who operate by killing people, destroying communities and farmlands while enjoying government protection from counter attack, arrest or prosecution. We reject attempts to turn Igala land into the next killing field of marauding Fulani herdsmen’.”