Herdsmen now Landlords in Uwheru Delta State

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State recently told the Assistant Inspector-General of Police for Zone 5, Mr. Rasheed Akintunde, that owners of farmlands in Uwheru, Ughelli North Local Government Area, now pay “protection fees” to armed herdsmen before they can enter their farms.

No one ever believed that the time would come when stranger-elements alien to Nigeria would forcefully seize the farmlands of indigenous peoples and subject them to slaves in their own ancestral communities while the Police and security agencies charged with the protection of lives and property pretend not to notice.

The atrocities of armed herdsmen across the nation are well-documented daily affairs, but the situation in Delta State stands out in its own way. It was in Ubulu-Uku in Aniocha South Local Government Area that a traditional ruler, Obi Edward Akaeze Ofulue III, was kidnapped and killed in December 2016. Despite various efforts by Governor Okowa to promote peaceful coexistence, these armed herders have seized the farmlands and highways of the state, killing, maiming, kidnapping, raping, robbing and now extorting money from helpless farmers.

It is becoming abundantly clear that there is more to the mission of these herdsmen than what we have known pastoralists for down the ages. Those who accuse the armed militias masquerading as “herdsmen” of nursing territorial ambitions can easily find justification in the seizure of peoples’ ancestral lands by these invaders who now extort helpless citizens before they can eke out a living on their own lands.