Apparently piqued by incessant attacks by herdsmen, protesters from 10 communities in Ovia North -East Local Government Area of Edo State have barricaded the Lagos-Benin Highway on Wednesday to press home their frustration.
Some Civil society organisations were not left out in the protest which lasted for several hours leading to a traffic hold up on the highway.
The communities indicated that the rampaging herdsmen had always destroyed their farmlands, evict them forcefully from their ancestral homes and killed their loved ones.
The protesters came together from communities of Odiguetue, Ofintebe, Igolo, Okokuo, Abumwenre I and Abumwenre II, Obarenren, Uhiere, Uyimo I and Uyimo II to join in the barricade.
They observed that a stitch in time saves nine, hence the measure adopted so that Edo would not be the case of Benue or Plateau where the herders have taken over the houses of the natives.
A community leader Mr Osagie Obayuwana, said they were worried about a looming crisis brewing in the various communities and orchestrated by armed herdsmen.
He said urgent steps were needed to be taken to check the activities of the herders before they become full blown crisis in the state.
“We want the whole world to know the experiences our people have been made to go through for quite some time now. We are zeroing in on Ovia North- East communities; about 10 communities have been under siege for some time now.
“Farmers have been prevented from going to their farms; another planting season is running out; they have been sentenced to hunger, farmers and their families and this has an implication for the larger society.
“It is one of the reasons the price of food is rising beyond the reach of even those in the middle class. So far, we have not seen any serious efforts to address this issue.
“Our people have gone to various relevant government offices to complain, but there have not been any response.
“Right now, the matter is degenerating to an extent that people are being driven out of their villages.
“We don’t want the Benue and Plateau States experience where armed herdsmen dr,ove people away from their communities, change the names of the communities and start to occupy the houses to be replicated in Edo State. We don’t want that,’’ he said.
A representative of the Edo State Civil Society Organisations, Mr Osazee Edigin, decried the level of insecurity in Edo communities, and noted that it had gone from bad to worse.
“We are here to support these communities that have been ravaged and sacked by herdsmen.
“We have seen the high level of insecurity in the state, and we want the state government and law enforcement agencies to rescue the people.
“We are here to amplify the voices of these locals so that the state government can intervene in this. If we don’t do it, we are going to have scarcity of food and more victims.
“We urge the government to rise to the occasion and protect lives and property. The government should step in.
“When there is no peace in the land, life will not flourish and the economy will go down,’’ he said.
When contacted, the Assistant Commissioner of Police in -charge of Operations in the state, Mr James Chu, addressed the protesters and appealed for calm, assuring that efforts were being made to address the situation.