Rivers State Government has stated that it would not participate in the Federal Government’s Ruga settlements for herdsmen.
The Rivers State Government, in a statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, noted that the state has no land for the implementation of such a policy.
It noted that in his second term, Governor Nyesom Wike, has prioritised commercial agriculture, hence all available arable land in the state would be needed to drive commercial agriculture across the state to create employment for Rivers youths.
The state government emphasised that it has not given any approval for the sitting of Ruga settlements anywhere in Rivers State.
It added that no such approval would come from the Rivers State Government for the Ruga settlements.
The statement reiterated that Governor Nyesom Wike would continue to defend the interest of Rivers people, who have overwhelmingly rejected cattle colonies, Ruga settlements and any such policy.
“Rivers indigenes are hereby advised to join the state government to protect all arable lands by reporting any form of encroachment under whatever guise”, the statement added.
Meanwhile, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), yesterday, said the Ijaw ethnic nationality has no land for the proposed RUGA settlement for Fulani cattle rearers.
The council also admonished the governors of the six South-South states and Ondo in the South-West region not to bow to pressure from the Federal Government in their own interests.
The President of the council, Pereotubo Oweilaemi, who disclosed this in a statement, also asserted, “We reject Fulani Vigilance Group in our territory and we do not have land to accommodate foreigners.
“The desert North is big enough for the Fulanis to rear their cattle. We will not accommodate people whose ultimate goal is to carry out religious jihad against their hosts in order to establish their Islamic caliphate.
“The Fulanis, who have been terrorising the indigenous people in the Meddle Belt as well as some parts of Southern Nigeria are seen as a trojan horse to us.
“IYC rejects in its entirety the move by the Federal Government to establish the said Ruga settlement for the Fulanis. The government should not by act of omission or commission instigate ethno-religious crisis in the country.
“The genocide being perpetrated against the Middle Beltans by these Fulani warmongers under Buhari’s government has not been addressed by the latter with a determined effort.
“At the height of the killings by the Fulani terrorists, the Presidency only said the Middle Belt people should relinquish their ancestral lands to the killer herdsmen or be ready to be killed continuously. How can we cede our land to such persons, who take delight in massacring innocent people under the gleeful eyes of the Federal Government of Nigeria?
“We will not invite such trojan horses to our land in order not to betide future generations. We are warning the six governors of the South-South states together with the governor of Ondo State not to accept that dangerous proposal.
“Should any of them being politically cajoled to accept the proposal then we will take a bloody revolution against them and their imperial interest. This is not a warning. Ijaw people are ready to defend our land even with the last drop of our blood,” he added.
Oweilaemi stated, “On the Fulani Vigilance Group, our message is the same. We do not need any vigilante group by the world number four terrorist organisation. If the government of Nigeria cannot protect us, then the Ijaw nation is able to protect our lands and people.
“We are able to protect our territorial integrity to ward off internal and external aggressors, including criminal syndicates. The security of lives and property is constitutionally vested in the government.
“If , however, the government is unable to protect us, then, we will set up our own security outfits to protect our lands. President Buhari should immediately call his Fulani people to order before they set the country ablaze.
“Nigeria is on the precipice heading to the cliff. The time bomb is ticking faster than expected. The antics of the Fulani ethnic group may ignite the conflagration that will consume the entire country. Our patient is running thin,” he said.
Also, opposition has continued to mount against the Federal Government’s Ruga settlement programme for herdsmen in the country, as the South East governors insisted, yesterday, that there was no land for it in the region, even as Benue State government debunked claims by the Presidency that land had been gazetted in Benue and other states for the settlement.
This is just as Southern and Middle Belt leaders, also yesterday, challenged the Presidency to release the Ruga settlement gazette number and its content, wondering in what capacity the Federal Government gazetted land in all states of the federation.
Similarly, Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, and Agbekoya Farmers’ Association described the proposed Ruga settlement as dead on arrival, while Benue State chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, accused the Federal Government of nursing a hidden agenda with the introduction of Ruga settlements for herdsmen in Benue and other parts of the country.
Governor of Ebonyi State and Chairman of South-Easst Governors Forum, Dave Umahi, said in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Emma Uzor, that there is no plan to establish Ruga settlement in any part of the South-East and South-South zones.
He said the region did propose a deal with the members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, MACBAN, as panacea to achieving lasting peace between farmers and herdsmen.
He, however, denied any plan by governors of the zones to cede any part of their land for Ruga settlement.
He said: “There is no plan for any Ruga settlement in any part of South-East and South-South zones; but we made a proposed deal with MACBAN that can allow the zone to become very good business with sale of grasses to the herdsmen in exchange for meat.
“We actually proposed a deal with MACBAN to take their cattle to the northern parts where grazing reserves were established long time ago and rely completely on the grasses grown in the south for feeding of their cattle.” Umahi, who was chairman of the technical committee on farmers and herdsmen clash, carved from the National Economic Council headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, said the committee had recommended the revamping of existing grazing reserves in Nigeria.
In another development, Renowned Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has urged the President Buhari-led government to handle the issue of RUGA settlement carefully as “there cannot be any kind of society where cattle take priority over human beings.”
Soyinka, who was a special guest at the official launch of Solution 17, an initiative geared towards youth empowerment and sustainable development, maintained that the practice of herders’ settlement across Nigeria is neither strange nor mysterious.
Fielding questions from newsmen, he said: “Ruga is going to be an exclusive issue and it had better be handled very carefully. Why is it that we fail to take our models from successful performers? There are ways in which people deal, and have dealt for decades—for centuries with cattle everywhere.
I travel everywhere. It is nothing so strange; there is nothing mysterious about cattle rearing. “Why should cattle become a problem just because we like to eat beef? I don’t understand it. There are solutions which are very simple.
“People have talked about ranching, but the ranching has got to be done in places which are environmentally congenial to that particular kind of trade and at the same time do not afflict humanity.
“What’s the point in trying to provide food and the food chokes us; which is what cattle and cattle-rearers have been doing? We have a situation where cattle walk up to my own door in Abeokuta which is supposed to be a residential area.
“There is a problem when cattle go to Ijebu-Ode and eat up Sodipe’s (a furniture maker’s) planted seedlings. And this is someone who is working towards a guaranteed environment by planting trees to replace the trees (timber) which he has used.
“And then cattle come and eat up all of that and you expect people to sit down and be quiet? “And then Buhari took such a long time. For me, he deserved—and I have written this down— to have lost the last election if only on account of the lackadaisical attitude which he took to the issue of cattle-rearers.
“People have been killed in hundreds till today and it is only because of the failure of leadership at the critical time.
“That is the most important thing and the cattle rearers have been given a sense of impunity: they kill without any compunction; they drive farmers also who are contributing to the food solution of the country away; burn their crops; eat their crops; and then you come with Ruga.
“I think there is going to be trouble in this country if this cattle-rearing issue is not handled imaginatively and with humanity as the priority. There cannot be any kind of society where cattle take priority over human beings. It is as elementary as that”.
Assailants Murder Obiano’s SSA On Security
Unknown assailants yesterday stormed the residence of Mr Azubuike Ekwegbalu, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State on Security, leaving him dead after allegedly stabbing him with a kitchen knife.
Our correspondent gathered that the incident occurred early hours of yesterday at his residence at the Commissioners’ Quarters, Awka, a high brow area for government officials.
An eyewitness said the late Ekwegbalu, who hails from Ogbunike in Oyi Local Government Area of the state, was a close relation to the wife of the governor.
“He was murdered by unknown men last night at the commissioners’ quarters, Awka.
“This is barbaric. May his soul rest in peace.
“Security operatives must do all that is possible to bring the killers to justice,” the source said.
Confirming the incident in a statement, the spokesman for the Police Command in the state, SP Haruna Mohammed, said one suspect, who was seen in the premises had been arrested.
“On August 9, 2020, about 1:30 a.m., there was a report of alleged murder of one Azuibuike Ekwegbalu, aged 43 years, native of Ogbunike in Oyi LGA but resident at the Commissioners quarters Awka.
“Following the report, Police detectives attached to ‘B’ Division Awka led by the DPO, CSP Emma Ogbuanya visited the scene and rushed victim who was found in a pool of blood to COOUTH Awka for medical attention.
“He was certified dead by the medical doctor on arrival while his corpse was deposited at the hospital mortuary for autopsy,” he noted.
Mohammed said a careful observation on the deceased body revealed stab wounds while a blood-stained kitchen knife was also recovered as an exhibit at the scene.
“Consequently, one suspect who allegedly was in the premises has been arrested and the case is under investigation to unravel the circumstances surrounding the incident,” he stated.
Insecurity In Nigeria, Alarming, Wike Alerts …Suspends JAAC Accounts From Defaulting Banks
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says insecurity in Nigeria has reached an alarming proportion.
He has therefore called on security agencies to redouble their efforts in curbing it.
Governor Wike expressed the concern yesterday when the new General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Olu Irefin paid him a courtesy visit at Government House, Port Harcourt.
He noted that the prevalence of insecurity in every State of the Federation seems to overwhelm the military.
Governor Wike stated that the situation is different in Rivers State because of the robust collaboration between his administration and the security agencies.
“Our determination is to keep the State safe but development also attracts criminality, so we can’t say we are totally free.
“There are still pockets of criminal elements. So, as a professional whose role is to defend the territorial integrity of the country, fight crime and do not involve in politics.
“We are willing to collaborate with you as a government because security is important for us. Just let us know what you require to succeed in the fight against criminality.
“That way, we will be partners in progress and make the State safe for all residents,” he stated.
Earlier, the General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General OluIrefin commended Governor Wike for his developmental strides.
He said on assumption of duties, his commanders told him that they have enjoyed tremendous support from the state government in the discharge of duties.
He pledged to sustain the existing collaboration in protecting lives and property in the State
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has directed the removal of Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) from banks that gave unauthorised loans to some Local Government Chairmen in the State.
Governor Wike gave the directive on Wednesday, while swearing in the substantive Chairman of the Asari-Toru Local Government Area at Government House, Port Harcourt .
He directed the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice to take legal action against the defaulting Banks.
Governor Wike said both the Banks and the Councils that defaulted would suffer the consequences of the illegality.
He noted that the Banks cannot seek refund of the loans because they contravened extant Laws of the State.
“We have taken a decision that for all those loans taken without approval, the affected accounts must leave the defaulting banks.
“I have told the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice to take necessary steps. The Banks cannot go and seek for refund from the Local Governments. When you default the Law, you suffer for it.
“Council Chairmen who want to take loans from banks must get official approval. You cannot take loans that will mortgage the future of the people”, he stated.
Governor Wike charged Mrs. AlasoJohnbull Obi to use her new position to make a difference because the people are yet to feel the impact of the Council.
“Go and put your local government together. Do not allow busy body politicians to distract you. Use this opportunity you have to make a difference.
“We never thought that Chief Odiari Princewill will die but as God will have it, he is dead and we have to abide by the constitution.
“That is why you, as the deputy, has to step in as the substantive chairman of Asari-Toru local Government Area today.
“In choosing your Deputy, you must consult widely with all the stakeholders of the Party. As election is coming up next year, you have an opportunity to sell yourself,” he added.
Until her swearing in, Mrs. AlasoJohnbul-Obi was the Vice Chairman of the Council but the death of the elected chairman, Chief Odiari Princewill on the 27th May, 2020 created a vacuum that needed to be filled.
SSANU, NASU Threaten Strike Over Unresolved Issues
The Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) said they would proceed on strike over unresolved issues with the Federal Government immediately the universities reopen.
Mr Samson Ugwoke, the Chairman, Joint Action Committee (JAC) of both unions said this while addressing newsmen on the resolutions reached by the unions yesterday in Abuja.
The resolutions were signed by the SSANU National President, Mr Samson Ugwoke, and the General Secretary of NASU, Mr Peters Adeyemi.
The unions’ grievances included the lingering Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) debacle, nonpayment of arrears of earned allowance and minimum wage. Others are the alleged lack of seriousness by the Babalakin Committee renegotiating the 2009 FG/NASU, SSANU agreements, neglect and poor funding of state universities, absence of visitation panels, among others.
According to Ugwoke, long after many other sectors had been paid the arrears of the national minimum wage and consequential adjustment, university workers are yet to be paid. “We find this development totally unwholesome and very unhealthy.
“Given the time lag of over a year since it was implemented in other sectors, members of the public would agree that we have been patient enough in the university system,” he said.
He pointed out that in spite of the series of letters by the unions to the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) Office since February, their members were still confronted with many challenges, including salary payment. Ugwuoke also said that their members, whose monthly salaries were being paid in the second week of the following month in the past seven months, were suffering as a result of the difficulties posed by IPPIS.
He argued that as responsible unions, they had avoided the planned action, adding that the unhealthy situation had made it inevitable.
Ugwoke said: “We have again cried out to the general public with a view to inviting stakeholders and well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the government to correct the anomaly of IPPIS. “Pay us the arrears of both earned allowances and minimum wage, among others.”
He warned that the unions would have no option than to embark on strike effective from when universities would reopen after the COVID-19 lockdown.
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