Stakeholders in Delta and Bayelsa, said continuous dialogue was the best way to addressing the recurring clashes between herders and farmers in the two states.
The stakeholders said in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), that dialogue would bring about understanding of the enormity of the situation and appropriate sanctions to perpetrators.
They said that it was important for both herders and farmers to appreciate their interconnectivity in the ecosystem and work to protect each other’s interest.
The stakeholders said that continuous destruction of farmlands by cattle would only lead to more antagonism towards herders, while urging residents to also learn to involve security agencies whenever there were infractions rather than taking the laws into their hands.
Dr Festus Ebimo, a lecturer at the Federal University Otuoke, Bayelsa, said it was important for security agencies to take up the matter seriously before it escalate into crisis.
“I have carried out research about farmers in Ogbia, Kolokuma/Opokuma, Sagbama especially, Yenagoa Local Government Areas.
“I have made several complaints in writing and have also held street demonstrations to draw the attention of relevant security agencies and government to the destruction of their crops by cattle, but to no avail.
“Communities such as Elebele, Zarama, Nedugo-Agbia, Igbogene, Gbarantoru, Azikoro, Agudama-Epie, Okaka, may experience serious famine this season because of shortage of food.
“This is because most of the farmers have abandoned their farms for fear of being harmed or raped,” he claimed.
Chief Gift Oru, a community leader in Otuoke, also said security agencies had not been proactive in bringing herders destroying farms to book, especially in Ogbia LGA.
He recalled the case of an 18-year-old boy, Kohgi Nation and his father, accused of stealing a cow and beaten up and injured allegedly by herders in Otuoke community in Ogbia LGA of the state.
Oru said that such situation must be tamed before snowballing into serious crisis.
A woman leader in Agudama-Epie community, Chief Mrs Duenize Ogon, said security agencies and government must find lasting solution to the rift between farmers and herdsmen.
She, however, said that the Divisional Police Officer in Akenfa has been working with the community and urging them to be patient as government find solutions to the matter.
In Delta, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) said it had intervened in the impasse between farmers and herders in Obetim-Uno community, Ndokwa East LGA.
The President General of of the community, Chief Sony Nemein had claimed that over N200 million worth of crops were destroyed by herders in the community.
The NSCDC Commandant in the state, Suleiman Jimoh told NAN that the command’s intervention forestalled break down of law and order.
Jimoh said that the command had also held meetings with some communities over the recurring conflicts, and the need for all sides to live peacefully.
”Recently, we held meetings with some communities and herdsmen in Ndokwa East LGA of Delta to mediate between the community heads and the herdsmen.
”During the meeting we made the herders to know that henceforth if they destroy crops or farmlands, they will have to pay for them.
”And we also encouraged the communities not to hesitate to report issues of invasion or attacks on their farmlands to us rather than taking laws into their hands,” he said.(NAN)