Crisis brews in Delta State community after over 300 Fulani Herdsmen settle in, monarch issues ultimatum

Delta Ma 21 The community is in the Delta State area

Tue, 5 Jul 2022 Source: saharareporters.com

Residents of Okpanam community in the Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State have been engulfed in fear as no fewer than 300 Fulani herdsmen reportedly took over a section of the community and are settling in.

The traditional ruler (Ugoani) of Okpanam Kingdom, Michael Ogbolu, raised the alarm that the herders are occupying the area without his authorisation, adding that the community has given the herders a 15-day ultimatum to leave the area.

According to Vanguard, the traditional ruler raised the alarm last week during a tripartite meeting held at his palace in Okpanam, involving the indigenes, chairman of Oshimili North LGA, Mr. Innocent Esewezie and Fulani leaders.

Recall that as a result of the incursion of Fulani people into the woodland of Akwukwu-Igbo, Okpanam and other communities under Oshimili North, the council under the leadership of Louis Ndukwe, in 2020 passed an executive order mandating all Fulani herders and strangers residing in the outskirt and undergrowth areas of the communities to relocate to the towns where natives live or vacate the communities.

But the traditional ruler said on Monday that “Fulani people just went to occupy one part of Obodogba land belonging to the Okpanam community. In our previous engagement, Obi Eluunor told us that anything concerning the Fulani people, we should route it through his office.”

According to the Monarch, “I wrote to Obi Eluuno, I gave him seven days to remove the Fulani people from our bushes.

“Then the Commissioner of Police wrote, fixing a meeting for last week, at the same time, the local government chairman, Mr. Esewezie, came around, asking that we sit down to address the issues. He galvanised the whole of them and we met here in my palace and I told them that the matter is very simple, only that the government in Delta State does not respect the laws made by it.”

He noted that “During the tenure of the former council chairman, Louis Ndukwe, the council came up with an executive order requiring all Fulani people, herders and strangers in our bushes to vacate and come and live with us in the town, but nothing was done.”

The traditional ruler maintained that “Our position is that the chairman of Oshimili North, Esewezie, should give effect to the executive order; we cannot accommodate these people in our bushes. We are predominantly farmers, they bulldoze their way into the bushes, they eat up our farm crops and also rape our women.

“The long and short of it is that we gave them 15 days with which to relocate and that by July 14, 2022, the council chairman will go there (occupied area) himself to witness the evacuation.”

Similarly, a community leader identified as Ndukwe, said, “The council chairman held a meeting with Fulani herdsmen even on Sunday, you know that the former council chairman came up with an executive order in 2020. It has to be implemented.

Few days ago, he also met with Fulani people. He is dealing with the security challenges community by community.

“The truth is that these people (Fulani) went to Okpanam, forcefully took a parcel of land and as we speak, they are turning themselves into a community of over 300 persons without authorisation from the community.

“They just come into any community, bulldoze their way and are doing all sorts of nonsense. Luckily for us, the leadership of the Fulani is cooperating with the council, the police are also cooperating.”

Meanwhile, the herders who said they do not accept the directive to vacate the area they are occupying embarked on a protest along Benin-Asaba Expressway.

During the protest, their spokesperson, Idris Abubakar, claimed that they were legal occupants of Oshimili because they pay rents for where they are living.

“The Federal Government should come to our aid so they can allow us to stay as legal occupants. The government should come to our aid and halt the council chairman from passing this so-called executive order.

“Whoever is living in any place is a legal occupant of that place. We have receipts that they gave to us. We pay tenancy each year,” Abubakar said.

However, the Delta State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, has said that the state government was not aware of invasion of part of Okpanam land by herdsmen.

But the Commissioner admitted that there were some northerners occupying the area whom he claimed are doing menial jobs to earn a living.

Source: saharareporters.com