Rochas Okorocha of Imo State was absent when governors of the South-eastern states on Sunday night in Enugu, categorically said that no state in the region will donate any land for the federal government’s proposed establishment of cattle ranches.
His deputy, Ezeakonobi Madumere, with whom who he has been at loggerheads, was also absent as Abia and Anambra were represented by their deputy governors.
The governors of Enugu, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Ebonyi, David Umahi, were in attendance,
Mr. Umahi, the chairman of the forum, told journalist after their meeting that the governors agreed that ranching would not be allowed in the zone.
The governors also condemned the recent massacre in Plateau State by suspected Fulani herdsmen and raised alarm over what they see as challenges posed by the movement of herdsmen in the South-east.
“South-east governors have noticed increased challenges in the movement of herdsmen from one state and region to another with the resultant effect of massive destruction of farmlands with attendant clashes with farmers.
“South-east governors have been spending huge funds in settling farmers whose farms and crops are destroyed – we, therefore, request an emergency meeting in the South-east with federal security chiefs, farmers and herdsmen to stop the movements and prevent clashes,”, Umahi said.
According to him, the governors agreed to meet with heads of federal security agencies over the development, but added that no state in the South-east has agreed to provide land for the establishment of ranches.
The National Economic Council (NEC) had recently announced that 10 states across the country, including Ebonyi, had agreed to provide land for ranching, to permanently solve the herders and farmers violence.
All state governors are members of the NEC which purportedly made the decision, but the South-east governors made it clear that they were not party to it.
However, Mr Umahi explained that the federal government has not formally requested for land, but stated that the South-east governors would not grant such request when it would be made.
He said, “No land in the South-east has been donated for ranching.
“We have not donated any land; we have not been asked to donate and we are not going to donate.
“Ranching is not approved by the South-east governors in the South-east.”