The Ebonyi State Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Donatus Njoku, has denied reports that the state had made land available for cattle colonies proposed by the Federal Government.
According to Njoku, the state government’s rejection of the policy is irreversible.
Njoku made the assertion in Abakaliki on Saturday, while briefing journalists on measures adopted by the government to ensure peaceful co-existence between herdsmen and residents in the state.
The commissioner emphasised that the state government had no land to give out for cattle colonies, adding that the available land in the state was for agricultural purposes.
Addressing reports on social media that the state government had embraced the cattle colony policy, he said, “The rumours on social media are a misrepresentation. Governor David Umahi never said the state would give out land for creation of cattle colonies.
“In Ebonyi State, there is nothing like cattle colony. The position of the Ebonyi State Government is that those herdsmen that have been in the state for years, living harmoniously with the people, cannot be asked to go. Our concern is the killer herdsmen who carry rifles and AK-47.
“Any time the herdsmen want to move cattle to another location, the attention of the traditional rulers/town unions that reside in the community must be sought, indicating the routes/passages to follow.”
Njoku stated that the state government had enacted a law prohibiting open movement of animals such as cows, goats and cattle, in addition to the inauguration of a special task force to ensure that cattle herders confined their cattle to one location.
He said, “If you have cause to move the cattle, let the government know when and where you are moving them to and the routes to follow. It is important.”
The commissioner wondered why herdsmen in the state would engage in open grazing despite state government’s law against open movement of animals, goats, cows, etc.
“We have a law that specifies fines for defaulters. In addition, there is a taskforce that checkmates any form of rearing of animals such as cattle and goats. We are monitoring indiscriminate movement of cattle,” he added.
Njoku commended the Federal Government for inaugurating the presidential committee on reconciliation of herdsmen/farmers, under the chairmanship of Umahi.
“Very soon, the nation will come up with a permanent solution to the frequent clashes between farmers/herdsmen in the country,” he promised.
On the activities of illegal miners in the state, the commissioner emphasised that the state government had laid out guidelines, which mining operators must adhere to.
He said, “For one to mine in the state, you must adhere to the standard, conform to the Environmental Impact Assessment, and provide safety kits for the mining workers, etc.”