Thursday, May 18, 2017. 08:50GMT

GOVERNOR  Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, yesterday, declared that most of the kidnappings in the state were carried out by Hausa/Fulani inviduals in connivance with some locals.

But the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Zanna Ibrahim, who spoke to Vanguard on the governor’s claim, said he would not want to trade words with the governor on the issue, but that facts at his disposal pointed to the contrary.

GOVERNOR Ifeanyi Okowa However, speaking through his Special Adviser on Rural Development and Peace-building, Chief Edwin Uzor, at a town hall meeting in Effurun, Uvwie Local Government Area, the governor said his administration had done a lot to ensure clashes between herdsmen and Deltans were reduced to the barest minimum.

The town hall meeting was put together by a non-governmental organisation, LITE-Africa, to flag off the National Initiative for Sustainable Peace Building Architecture, NISPA, action in Delta State, funded by the European Union, EU, and Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS.

The initiative is a pilot scheme in Delta, Enugu and Benue states to bring together ex-militants, herdsmen, farmers, opinion leaders, security agencies, critical actors and stakeholders to dialogue and develop a state-level peace plan that will shape a national level policy dialogue on peace and security. The governor’s words:

“There would have been much more killings but for our consultations. Most of the kidnappings in the state are perpetrated by the Hausa/Fulani in connivance with some of our people.”

 But the Police Commissioner told Vanguard: “Well, he (governor) may have his own statistics with due respect, but you see my own take in this matter is that crime has no nationality. It does not have boundaries or tribe, religion or whatever you are talking about.

“Yes, a lot of these herdsmen and people of Hausa extraction have been found to be involved in heinous crimes. I have records to show that almost everybody that you know is involved in this whole thing. Whether it is an indigene or a non-indigene, they are all involved in this thing.

“I have close to about 112 kidnappers in my custody as at today and the summary of the statistics shows otherwise. For Delta State, we have 80; Anambra 9, Adamawa 8, Taraba 3, Niger 3, Imo 2, Edo 1, Bayelsa 1, Rivers 1, Akwa Ibom 1, Enugu 1, Sokoto 2, Plateau 1 and Kaduna 1. So it does not have boundaries, it depends on what he is furnished with.

“So I would not want to contradict him as he obviously has his reasons for saying that. But the statistics I have is what I am talking about,” he said. The governor, who disclosed that the town hall meeting came at a time government was doing everything to ensure peace among all the groups in the state, said his administration was proactive, dispassionate and diligent in preventing looming crisis and in resolving existing crisis in all parts of the state, adding that ‘’in doing this, we partner with various communities and organization interested in peace and economic development.”

He said the initiative was in consonance with world best practices but expressed dismay that in spite of several successes recorded on peace buildings, extremism was still prevalent. Okowa demanded that more effort is needed by the federal government on the menace of the Fulani herdsmen, advising it to develop a policy framework to checkmate the ugly trend with a view to entrenching lasting peace and stability in the country.

In his welcome speech, Executive Director, LITE-Africa and former Commissioner in the state, Hon. Joel Bisina, said the EU, ECOWAS peace and security programme was aimed at supporting local and cross-border community dialogue and peace-building efforts as well as training that links local initiatives to ECOWAS peace and security agenda. He talked about the resurgence of militancy and the resultant destruction of pipelines and inter-communal clashes between communities, which need to be addressed immediately before they spiral out of control.




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