Youths and women numbering over 800 on Tuesday barricaded the ever-busy Benin-Asaba-Onitsha Expressway protesting the activities of herdsmen in Delta State.
They demanded for the immediate evacuation of the herdsmen from the state.
All entreaties by a combined team of the Anti-Crime Patrol, Anti-Kidnapping Squad and Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) to quell the protest met with brick wall until the state government intervened.
For over five hours, there was a heavy gridlock on the expressway, forcing motorists and commuters to divert, in desperate attempt to find alternative route of escape.
The protesters, under the aegis of the Association of Security Network (ASN), comprising the Anioma Security Watch (ASW) and the Urhobo Security Network (ASN) arrived the popular Summit Junction in Asaba as early as 7 a.m. in the morning.
Clad in black and black and chanting war songs such as, “we no go gree o, we no go gree…” and carrying placards with various headlines such as, “Fulanis Must Go, They Killed Our Obi,” “Enough is Enough for the Fulanis in our Land,” “Mr. Governor, We don’t want to lose more souls,” said they would no longer die of Fulani herdsmen’s attack.
The protesters led by three coordinators, Comrades Warri Eriques (South zone), Jacob O. Godwin (Central) and Henry Owumamalieze, wondered why the state government was insensitive to their plight despite a letter titled, “Insensitivity of Government to Attacks By Fulani Herdsmen,” dated March 24, 2016, sent to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
According to Owumamalieze, over 14 persons were killed, raped and maimed in their farms by the herdsmen in Ndokwa axis of the state between last year and this year.
“Mr. Governor, this was not the prosperity you promised us. It is better to die in your hand than for us to die in the hands of Fulani herdsmen,” Owumamalieze said.
But Hon. Innocent Esenweze, the Special Assistant to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on Youth Affairs, who intervened urged them not to take the law into their hands, urging them to vacate the expressway for innocent Nigerians to travel.
“Let us not take the law into our hands. Nobody is against your agitation. The Governor is aware. But blocking a Federal road and preventing travelers from meeting their goals is uncalled for. I appeal for calm,” Esenweze begged.
When contacted over the development, Mr. Patrick Ukah, Delta Commissioner for Information, said: “The matter is a very sensitive security issue. The effort of government can’t be disclosed for security reasons. Our effort may be very slow owing to its sensitivity.”