The Governor of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu, has said the state government pays herders N100,000 for each cow killed during farmers-herders clashes in the state.
Speaking on Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television programme Sunrise Daily on Wednesday, Ikpeazu, disclosed this and added that the same amount is paid to farmers whose farms are destroyed by stray cows.
The governor said the initiative is meant to gain the trust of the people and prevent them from taking the law into their own hands.
Asked what the state government is doing to enforce the law against open grazing, Ikpeazu said: ”We have a strong mechanism with which we deal with the normal and usual cattle herders. We have what we call farmer/herder conflict resolution committee from the state where the CP is chairman to the local governments where the executive chairmen of various local governments chair, and members of that committee include the Miyetti Allah, the DSS and DPO of the various local governments up until the state.
“And we pay compensation of about N100,000 for any cow that is killed on account of a misunderstanding between the farmers and the herders and pay the same amount for farmland verified to have been trampled on or destroyed by stray cows.
“We have used that to make sure that at least, we give some succour and buffer so that when people disagree, they can wait for that committee to look into the matter instead of taking the law into their own hands. But that is not to say that we have not recorded a spike in the activities of these criminal elements that come to kidnap, rape and kill farmers. More often than not, some of these criminal elements don’t even have a cow. We are targeting those people and we are going to punish them.”
The governor said the best way to solve the issue of farmer/herder crisis is for the Nigerian government to tackle the root cause of the problem.
“Nigeria is not diagnosing the problem properly. The problems we face in this country are existential,” he said.
The state government had earlier accused herders of kidnapping citizens of the state and of destroying farmlands with cows grazing openly.
Despite banning open grazing in June 2018, herdsmen have reportedly continued to violate the law in the state.