By Steve Oni, Ilorin
The Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, has warned that perpetrators of clashes between farmers and herdsmen in the State would henceforth be treated as criminals and be made to face the full wrath of the law.
The governor, who stated this on Monday during a meeting with members of the State Chapter of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), noted that such attacks constitute a crime against the State and must be handled as such.
Noting that an ethnic colourisation of such attack has a potential of obscuring the criminal nature of the incident and denying the victims justice, Ahmed admonished all affected parties to allow justice take its course by treating such incidents as violations of the law.
The governor also frowned at the emergence of ethnic-based vigilante groups, saying it risks escalating the crises. He announced plans to reform the system in the State with a view to ensuring that it works within the law.
He said that individuals who feel aggrieved by the clashes should report to the Local Government Security Committee or the Police, who would then ensure compensation.
Governor Ahmed stressed that anybody who ignores this arrangement and decides to take the law into their own hands would be treated as criminals and would be prosecuted accordingly.
Ahmed also disclosed that as part of efforts to curb clashes between farmers and herdsmen, the State government would hold a meeting with all traditional rulers in the State, while charging them to intensify efforts in ensuring peaceful coexistence in their domains.
He also commended MACBAN members for paying taxes and complying with other laws of the State, noting that this legitimises their rights to infrastructure and protection by the government.
Earlier in his remarks, the State Secretary of MACBAN, Mallam Abdulazeez Mohammed, had disclosed that they were at the meeting to express their bitterness over the attack on their members and also to seek protection for their people across the State.
He said that MACBAN as an association has always ensured that its members pay cattle tax and personal income tax, and that they were, therefore, aggrieved that their members could be attacked by unknown persons despite their cooperation with the government.
Mohammed also expressed the association’s support for the government’s decision to compensate victims of the attack and also treat culprits as criminals.
By Steve Oni, Ilorin