The Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, has called on the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to be mindful of his utterances as words and actions by government officials are the reason many people in the South-East tend to support the military arm of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the Eastern Security Network (ESN).
Umahi, who was a guest on a Channels Television programme on Thursday, was reacting to Malami’s comments during the week where he compared banning of open grazing by southern governors to the banning of spare parts dealing by northern governors.
The governor said, “anyone opposed to the ban on open grazing is saying that the killings going on in different parts of the country, especially the South, should continue.”
The Ebonyi governor pointed out that the killings and destruction of farms in the South-East by herders gave birth to the ESN and the rise of other ethnic militia groups in the South to protect their people as it seems they have lost faith in the Federal Government’s ability to protect them.
Umahi added that though governors in the region do not support the ESN, the people seem to have more trust in them than in the Federal Government, and such statements coming from Malami would further alienate the people and cause more distrust for the government.
Umahi stressed that the Federal Government has been advised to treat cattle rearing as businesses by funding ranches, especially in the North, adding that even though the northern governors are willing, the move is being frustrated by individuals who have vested interests.
“In the South, we don’t have cattle routes but in the North they have, so nobody is going to say ‘let’s ban open grazing in some areas in North where there are cattle routes the way they move constitutionally from one point to the other.
“But in the South there are no cattle routes. For you to move with your cattle from one point to the other, you have to move through farms, you have to move through population dense areas and this is not very good.
“And that’s of course what the Southern governors and in particular the South-East are saying, ‘let’s go back to our traditional method of relationship.
“We will no longer allow you to take your cattle from one local government to the other. And the implication is that these foreign herders also come in terms of mobile herders with AK-47.
“So anybody that says there should be no ban on open grazing is on the other hand saying that these killings should continue and that’s what gave birth to ESN whether we support it as Governors. We don’t.
“But the people tend to support it because of the foreign herders that pretend to be rearing cattle and they’re killing people.
“We’ve encouraged the Federal Government, let’s treat this cattle rearing as businesses.
“Take money from the Federation account and develop ranches where there are designated ranches, especially in the North and the northern governors are willing but it’s being frustrated.