Religious clerics in Rivers state have raised alarm that suspected Fulani herdsmen in the state are armed with weapons and are about to launch a deadly attack.
Herdsmen have been fingered in series of violent attack in some parts of the country and several clashes with farmers have been recorded.
Vanguard reports that the clergymen who came from different platforms, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Directorate of Religious Freedom and Church Collaboration of Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria claimed that herdsmen had invaded several communities in the state.
Rev. Isaac Anyanasikike who is the chairman of CAN said in a statement read on Wednesday, June 15 that the herdsmen were already acquiring lands for grazing in some communities and intimidating land owners.
He said the presence of the herdsmen was already causing in the communities.
He urged the residents especially farmers to be on the lookout and be very vigilant as they go about their duties in the forests.
He said: “It has come to our knowledge that Fulani herdsmen or cattle rearers have constituted themselves into an embarrassing nuisance in rural communities in the various local government areas of the state where they graze their cattle with impunity on lands and or farms belonging to the natives and accompanied by their propensity for violence and other horrible forms of criminality whenever they are challenged by the land owners.
“That the Fulani herdsmen are still roaming the forests and farmlands in Rivers State with dangerous weapons and other instruments of violence without the security and law enforcement agents doing anything to check this pervasive use of unauthorised or unlicensed arms thereby leaving the lives of the majority of our rural community dwellers at avoidable risk in unacceptable.
Meanwhile, the federal government said it cannot stop non-citizens of Nigeria from grazing their cattle across the country due to the ECOWAS Transhumance Protocol which has given the right of free movement to citizens of member countries.
The government stated that despite the fact that it had been established that many herdsmen who were involved in clashes in Nigerian villages were not Nigerians, it said the ECOWAS Transhumance Protocol the law is similar to the fundamental right to freedom of movement in the Nigerian constitution.