A member of the Delta State Livestock Management Committee (DSLMC) Mr. Ikechukwu Ezechi has been arrested by the police.
His arrest at Kwale in Ndokwa West Local Government Area of Delta State, it was gathered, was effected by operatives from Abuja.
Ezechi’s arrest, it was further learnt, might be connected to an accord between Umusam Ogbe community in Kwale, and a cattle owner for the later to remove his cattle from the community following alleged incessant destruction of farmlands by cattle herds.
Recall that the livestock committee was set up by the state government to implement the anti-open grazing law which enacted two years ago to curb the recurring incidents of farmers/herders in parts of the state.
An official of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) who spoke anonymously, confirmed that Ezechi was arrested by operatives of the sister security agency but could not give more details.
Police Public Relations Officer of the Delta State Police Command, DSP Bright Edafe, however, said the arrest was “on the strength of a petition against the suspect”, saying that all parties would be given a level playing ground.
Giving details of the arrest, Coordinator of DSLMC in Delta North Senatorial District, Mr. Matthew Ujene, said the police officers had come looking for him at the instance of a cattle owner, one Alhaji Musa, who he alleged, had been doing everything not to comply with the anti-open grazing law.
“We were at the office of NSCDC in Kwale when Musa called that he was bringing one of his boys that stole one of his cows. l told him to bring him and that l will tell the D. O civil defense to handle the matter.
“I was inside and one of our operatives, Ezeichi Ikechukwu who is my Secretary was outside. Then one Siena drove in and they arrested my secretary and entered the civil defense office and started searching everywhere; that they are police officers from Abuja; that they came to arrest me, that l am the one mobilizing communities to kill cows, that l incited Umusam community to tell Musa to remove his cows from the community.
“There are some farmers who he agreed to pay compensation for farmlands that were destroyed in Umusam. He also reached an agreement with the community to leave. He brought the police officers to scatter these arrangements.
“They said l am using the anti-open grazing law to intimidate them; they want to supercede the state government’s law that’s why they are bringing police from Abuja to intimidate us,” Ujene alleged.
Ujene who said he was somewhere around during the search, called on the state government to intervene in the matter.
Meanwhile, secretary of the Umusam Ogbe Community Development Committee, Mr. George Enubuzor said the community had been inviting Musa for a peace talk over the incessant encroachment and destruction of crops in the community.
Reiterating that the community did not give any of it’s land to herders, he said: “The incident that happened last, they went to the farms to destroy crops before we got them arrested. Then we reached an agreement that we don’t want them in our community, that they should leave our land, so we signed an agreement.
“He (Musa) agreed and we said seven days. He begged with his lawyer that we should extend it to one month. He was there at the meeting at Okpala-Uku’s palace and we gave them two weeks. He signed the paper, he agreed, so we are surprised that they came from Abuja to make arrest over this issue.”
Credit: Sun Newspaper except headline