Benin City — There is palpable anxiety among the people of Edo in the wake of last weekend's killing of no fewer than four persons by suspected herdsmen in Ugboha community, Esan South East and Odiguete settlement of Ovia North East council areas of the state.
Consequently, Governor Godwin Obaseki yesterday gave security agencies seven days to arrest the perpetrators.
In a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, the governor condemned the unwarranted killings by the bandits under the guise of herdsmen, stating that the action was in contravention of government's directive that cattle should not move at night in any part of the state.
The statement reads: "The governor has given an order that the culprits must be apprehended within seven days.
"He directed the committee, made up of the police, officials of the Department of State Services (DSS) and other security agencies to work with members of all associations of cattle dealers and people who have information regarding the activities of the bandits to fish them out within the stipulated period.
"He condoled with the families of the victims and pledged his administration's commitment to the safety and security of all Edo people and residents in the state as well as their property.
"The governor appealed to members of the affected communities to keep the peace and rest assured that the culprits will be apprehended and that justice will be served."
No fewer than four persons, including a first year student of the state-owned Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma, Collins Ojierakhi, were victims of the attacks.
The Ugboha incident reportedly occurred on Friday at about 7:30p.m. when the late Ojierakhi and his friends were returning from Uromi.
At Odiguete community two persons were feared dead after the invasion of the settlement.
However, a public affairs analyst and social justice crusader, Tony Abolo, expressed reservations over the steps being taken by government to check the menace nationwide.
Curiously, the police force is yet to make any official statement on the development. The commissioner in charge of the state command, Babatunde Kokumo, did not return the calls put to his mobile phones as promised as at press time.
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Late January, there was a furor in Igarra and its environs in Akoko-Edo Local Council of the state over the killing of a school driver by suspected herders on Igarra-Auchi road. The death came a day after a farmer was robbed along the Igarra -Okpe highway but was lucky to escape into the bush.
But luck, however, ran against nine of the attackers as they were arrested with sophisticated weapons by vigilantes in a Volkswagen vehicle they were travelling in at about 7:00a.m. on the Igarra-Okpe road of the state.
But for reinforcements from the military and police, the irate youths at Igarra, demanding justice, could have had their way.
Few weeks earlier, suspected nomads chopped off the limb of a farmer in Ojah, Akoko-Edo council area with two of them arrested.
Shortly after, another set of herdsmen reportedly killed the vice chairman of the community, Hassan Usman, after allegedly luring him into the bush under the pretence of wanting to buy cows from him. He, however, did not survive the attack.
Usman was a cattle retailer who bought and resold herds.
Meanwhile, academics and other stakeholders have called for enactment of anti-open grazing laws in all the 36 states as a proactive measure. They equally urged massive campaign to encourage private ranches and development of a workable formal education for nomads.