Recently the South-East Governors’ Forum, in a meeting with stakeholders and the Inspector General of Police, resolved to commence community policing and in Anambra State, government and traditional rulers are concluding arrangements for its implementation. The Special Adviser to the Governor on Community and Chieftaincy Matters, Barr. Vera Okonkwo, speaks with OKEY MADUFORO on the journey so far:

A lot of claims and counter-claims have followed the faceoff between the Fulani Herdsmen and farmers in some communities in Anambra State. How has the matter been managed?
Anambra State is the most peaceful state in the South-East when it comes to security of lives and property and this is as a result of the proactive actions of our governor, Chief Willie Obiano.

When it became a challenge the governor set up a committee known as Farmers’ Herdsmen Conflict Resolution Committee which is headed by the Commissioner of Police and members are drawn from all the security bodies and leaders of the respective communities as well as the herdsmen.

The governor also directed that every President-General of the communities should also form similarly committees and that any stranger or herdsmen that comes to settle in the community should identify himself and his people with the community leaders so that they know those that are staying with them.
We also put in place measures towards settling the losses from both sides: that is farmers and the herdsmen and ever since the horror stories about farmers and herdsmen clashing has been a thing of the past. This harmonious relationship between the natives and their visitors is rubbing off positively on the peace in the state.

Recently, a group in Ayamelum Local Government Area claimed that their cows were killed and four of their men also killed? What is your view about this?
The story is unfounded and I challenge those saying that to give me evidence. You cannot slaughter cows en-mass without people knowing and in which of the communities?

People peddle rumors to create a situation of insecurity in the state just to claim that Anambra is not safe. The story is coming from the opposition and if it happened the President General of the community will definitely know about it and the herdsmen making such claims. We enjoy harmonious relationship with our visitors and the respective leaders can tell you that and the governor has continued to sustain that peace.

The South-East Governors’ Forum has introduced community policing. How far are you working out the modalities?

We have resolved in the last meeting with the Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council that we shall start with the vigilance groups to execute the project and the royal fathers themselves also agreed with the state government when the Commissioner for Local government and Chieftaincy Matters met with them recently.

Though with time we shall also inject new blood into the security formation, for now we are drafting at least 50 men into each of the communities from the vigilance groups because they already know the terrain and they are doing the same work of policing our communities.

Security of life and property though is the job of the security personnel alone, everybody must be involved in the project and that is the only way to assist the security personnel in discharging their duties creditably.
The Nigerian Police is also involved in this like the respective Divisional Police Officers in the rural areas. We cannot do without the police at this stage because they are also partners in this venture.
There have been incidents of crisis in most communities in the state over who becomes the President General or the traditional ruler and the state government is being blamed for this development…

The communities have constitution that is guiding them in the election of Traditional Rulers and President and what we do is to follow the constitution.

In areas where there is rotation of power we allow the community to do the needful and our duty is that observe and ensure that the process is peaceful free and fair without crisis.

But in a situation where we encounter problems we set up Care taker Committee to serve over a period of time and the conduct election of a substantive Traditional Ruler or President General.
We have been able to resolve so many community crisis through this process and some times we invite the parties involved so that we can settle the matter peacefully.
Only those who don’t want peace or those gaining from the crisis would accuse government because their source of income has been stopped.

Last time you witnessed the handing over of certificate of recognition to the traditional rulers of Isulo and Mkpologwu by the governor himself. Some have been without a traditional ruler for about 10 years and today it over and we will not relent in ensuring peace in our communities.

Source: New Telegragh
Axact

ANAMBRA UPDATE

Anambra Update is an independent publication, established in 2012 for the purpose of presenting balanced coverage of events, and of promoting the best interests of Anambra and Ndigbo in extention. It owes allegiance to no political party, ethnic community, religious or other interest group. Its primary commitment is to the integrity and sovereignty of the Federation of Nigeria, and beyond that to the unity and sovereignty of Igbo Social-Cultural Race

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