Following the glaring culpability of Nigeria Police, Abia State Police Command on the Ozuitem, Bende LGA of the state Herdsmen/Farmers crisis where the police reportedly took sides with the Herdsmen and accepted that they ‘invited’ the traditional rulers from the place, particularly the former Chairman, Abia State Council of Traditional Rulers, HRM Eze John Akaniro to the police command headquarters, Umuahia, Abia Media Forum (AMF), has expressed dissatisfaction with the Police Commissioner, CP Janet Agbede’s handing of the clashes between herdsmen and farmers in parts of the state.
In a press statement signed by the chairman of the forum, Mr Ben Okezie, the group, senior journalists of Abia origin, deplored the double standard employed by the police in handling the crisis where about 15 cows belonging to the Fulani Herdsmen were killed by unknown persons in Ogboko, Ozuitem.
The statement titled, “Abia Media Forum Calls Out Police Commissioner for Double Standards on Herders-Farmers Clashes”, insisted that the journalists took exception to the police’s treatment of the people and a First-Class traditional ruler, Eze John Akaniro, the traditional ruler of Umuobasiukwu Ozuitem, despite latter-day denials by the police and the citizen involved.
Abia Media Forum is a congregation of senior journalists of Abia origin who have made their marks in mass communication and other areas of human endeavour in national and international arenas.
Meanwhile, the Abia State government’s quick intervention averted the degeneration of the crisis and stalled police initial planned massive arrest of indigenes of the area.
The statement reads: “Abia Media Forum Calls Out Police Commissioner for Double Standards on Herders-Farmers Clashes”
“Senior journalists in Abia State place on record our dissatisfaction with the Abia State Police Commissioner’s handing of recent clashes between herdsmen and farmers in parts of the state.
““Our platform, the Abia Media Forum, takes exception to the Police’s treatment of the people and a First-Class traditional ruler, Eze John Akaniro, the traditional ruler of Umuobasiukwu Ozuitem, despite latter-day denials by the Police and the citizen involved.
“The people of Ozuitem first reported to the Nigerian Police Force the destruction of crops in their farmlands at Ogboko community by herders and their cows. When confronted, the herders pointed their AK 47 at the farmers. The Police did nothing about the report.
“The next time, the community reacted when a herd of cows invaded the farmlands, the Abia State Commissioner of Police, Janet Agbede, then “invited” the traditional ruler and seven community leaders to the Police Command Headquarters in Umuahia.
“The Abia Media Forum condemns the apparent deployment of unbalanced scales by the State Police Command. They did nothing when the farmers reported damage to their crops but rose to their official height when the same farmers acted against the invading cows.
“We do not accept such apartheid in justice administration in our state. We are glad nevertheless that Commissioner of Police, Agbede and Eze Akaniro deny earlier reports of detention of the traditional ruler and former chairman of the Abia State Council of Ndi Eze as well as seven citizens. Eze Akaniro in later accounts claimed that the Police only invited him to clarify the situation, asked him to state that they did not detain him, and set him free the same day.
“Next time we urge the Abia State Police Command to offer the same courtesy of going to the palace of revered traditional rulers in Abia State as they do in other geopolitical zones. We commend Governor Okezie Ikpeazu for his criticisms on the situation. The Ikpeazu-led government of Abia State has denounced continued clashes between herdsmen and farmers and decreed the seizure and destruction of buildings and other structures used by kidnappers.
“We must return to the harmonious co-existence of farmers and herdsmen that existed for many decades in our communities. It led to the existence of several Hausa communities (Ama Hausa) in the state who respected the laws and traditions and earned the love, respect and trust of the host communities.
“The Abia Media Forum groups in senior journalists of Abia State origin practising across Nigeria and the Diaspora. AMF is committed to developing Abia State and supports all efforts to push the frontiers of progress in our beloved state”.
Ben Okezie, Chairman
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.