Advocacy Centre Decries Herdsmen’s Continuous Invasion Of Farms, Shooting, Raping, Abducting And Abusing The Rights Of Farmers Despite Extant Anti-Open Grazing Laws

August 27, 2021
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August 26, 2021.

ADVOCACY CENTRE PRESS RELEASE

…. Calls on Rivers State Government to enforce its Laws to protect citizens

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Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC) decries the continuous invasion of farms by suspected herdsmen, shooting, raping, abducting and abusing the rights of farmers despite the passage and assent to Anti-Open Grazing Laws.  

The Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike had on Thursday, August 19, 2021 assented to the “Open Rearing and Grazing (Prohibition) Law N0. 5 of 2021” among others. Reacting to the Law on August 23, some farmers in the State especially those from Lueken Community in the Ogoni area where herdsmen have been on rampage among others thanked the Governor and expressed their full-support for the smooth implementation of the Law including an offer “to do garri” for the Governor in appreciation for saving them from herdsmen through the law now being fragrantly disobeyed and violated by the herdsmen, similar to what is obtained in Benue State, etc.

However, six days after assent to the Anti-Open Grazing Law, on August 25, herdsmen had invaded farms in Eleme Local Government Area, attacking farmers, shooting sporadically, creating fear, raping women, abusing their rights and allegedly abducting one of the ladies said to have been hired to work in a cassava farm. According to volunteers under the auspices of “One Million Youth Volunteers Network of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters in the Niger Delta”, the volunteer wing of Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC), the incident took place in Agbon-Chia Farms on Wednesday, August 25. In the past, precisely on March 15, 2021, our Volunteers had also reported similar incident of herdsmen invading and attacking farmers at the Agbon-Chia Farms, raping women and abusing their rights. Advocacy Centre had also reported and circulated the information to the public in a statement; similar to the statement titled “Before We Are Killed Again” released by “Gbo Kabaari”, an Ogoni Elders Forum on June 29, 2021 and signed by its chairman and secretary Chief Monday Abueh and Dr. Desmond Mbete respectively.

Speaking on this latest development, a member of Agbon-Chia community (name withheld) confirmed the incident to Advocacy Centre. He narrated how the herdsmen invaded the community farms, attacked farmers, shooting with different riffles, raped and kidnapped a lady who was hired for job. Also speaking, another Agbon-Chia Lady who spoke under the condition of anonymity further confirmed the incident adding that the Lady kidnapped by the herdsmen is from Ogoni and that she came for job in the community (full audio of both interviews are available on request).

Another eyewitness and member of Advocacy Centre’s Youth Volunteers’ Network reported that some of the women attacked reported that they had their legs and hands tied after raping them and then left to call others to take their turn but they were able to loosen the ropes and escaped before they returned. When asked why the incident occurred in Eleme and like the previous incident of March 15 neither the community leadership nor Council Chairman make any statement or take any action about the incident he said “… it is because the victims were Ogoni even Gokana and not from Eleme”, a response that should not be the case and it is not accepted by Advocacy Centre as a good reason for inactions from both parties because injury to one is injury to all on this national problem defiling solutions.

It is against these brief backgrounds that Advocacy Centre calls on the Rivers State Governor and Government to deploy the State resources to ensure the implementation of extant Laws on this and related issues to protect and provide security for citizens in the State to avoid re-occurrence. The Rivers State Police Command should investigate this matter, arrest the perpetrators and determine the whereabout of the lady said and alleged to have been kidnapped by the herdsmen during the invasion.

FYNEFACE DUMNAMENE FYNEFACE,

Environmental Justice Activist, Human Rights Defender and

Executive Director, Advocacy Centre. 

Email: fyneface@centreadvocacy.org

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