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25 Jan 2018

Herdsmen Killings: Farmers To Now Be Armed With AK-47 BY FG?

The president of the Ekiti Hunters Association of Nigeria, Taiwo Bamisile, has called on the government to provide the association with AK 47 rifles to defend the state against herdsmen carrying sophisticated weapons.
It was gathered that Bamisile made this statement in an interview he granted Punch Newspaper in which he said the association was ready to protect the state despite police harassment. He said: "Government should come to our aid and allow us to carry double-barrelled or AK 47 because it is our job to protect our towns.

The Fulani herdsmen have superior weapons and if government permits us, we are ready to confront them." It was learnt that the state governor, Ayodele Fayose, drafted hunters in Ekiti into the state’s security strategies to avert herdsmen/farmers clashes.

Bamisile added: "We were elated when the governor engaged us to join in the efforts to liberate the state and protect it from the menace of the killer herdsmen. We are happy with the governor’s efforts and we will support him with all our power. But let me say that our members are constantly harassed by policemen when they see them with guns."

On whether the hunters cannot work with the police, Bamisile said the association was part of a rescue effort with the police in the past. He added: "We have been involved in many rescue efforts in the past.

An example was when we rescued kidnapped victims and handed over the kidnappers to the police in Esure. We have been working together with the police and we do not nurse any fears. We have always been in the forefront; what we are waiting for is further briefing from the government on operation mode.

"Since the report of the woman killed in Orin, we have been combing the bush for the suspects. If we don’t arrest them in day time, we will arrest them in the night because as hunters, we move around in the night." The state's commissioner for information, youth and sports development, Lanre Ogunsuyi justified the government's decision to draft hunters into the state security arrangement.

He said: "Even Boko Haram is being defeated with the help of vigilantes. You know that the hunters are the first line of defence in rural communities. They have primary responsibility to ensure safety. When we talk about true federalism, the states should have apparatus that can deal with issues of internal security and communal clashes.

"The recent development between herdsmen and farmers is worrisome and you know the state has been able to enjoy relative peaceful coexistence between the farmers and the herdsmen; but, there is always the need to review the security situation and to be proactive."

In a related development, it was previously reported that Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti state said any herdsman caught grazing in Ekiti state with arms or in possession of any weapon would be charged with terrorism and prosecuted accordingly. The governor said any herdsman who violates any of these rules shall be imprisoned for six months without an option of fine.

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