The Vice Chancellor of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu University, Igbariam, Professor Fidelis Okafor, has debunked the news making rounds on social media that herdsmen had invaded the university environment.
He dismissed the rumors as sensational and capable of causing panic and fear, while however lamenting the overbearing presence of the herdsmen in the university environment.
According to him, their presence has resulted in unquantifiable damage of experimental crops and other agricultural products belonging to the university.
The university is situated in Anambra East local government area, one of the agrarian areas of the state.
Reports says the greenery and very expansive landscape which appears like a grazing field, is perhaps the attraction for the herdsmen and their cattle.
The VC in an attempt to clear the air said: “The word invasion connotes so many things and can send fears into people’s mind. As far as the University is concerned, we have not experienced any danger that is to say, any attack or any such movement.
“Maybe someone who is passing by seeing a large number of cattle moving around within the university environment and with herdsmen also behind them and in front of them may feel afraid that this might be what people had always feared. But then, we have suffered some destruction from these cattle,” he admitted.
He went on to add that: “We have a Faculty of Agriculture, we have experimental farms by the students and by the staff, research farms, plantation, all these had at one time or the other been destroyed by the cattle. And the feaces from these cattle litter all around the campus attracting flies and fleas.”
Furthermore, Okafor explained that the herdsmen’s unlimited access to every area on campus unsettled the students.
According to him, the institution had repeatedly complained to relevant authorities both of government and the Police but the situation had prevailed.
He, however assured parents, students and the general public that against all odds, the school was still very safe.
“I am assuring the parents, the students and the general public that there is no invasion in the sense which we know what an invasion is.
“If there were, I wouldn’t be here talking to you. So I would tell the parents and the students and the public that the university is safe, very safe.”
Also reacting on the issue, the Anambra state Commissioner of Police, Sam Okaula, warned people to desist from causing sensation and panic as the long arm of the law will soon catch up with such elements.
He said the police were ready to assist the University on the issue of the cattle menace as he heads the Cattle Menace Committee set up by the state government to mediate on issues concerning the cattle herders and the host communities.
“We have not received any of such complaints from the university authorities of recent. One thing I want to assure you is that we have a committee in place, it is called Cattle Menace Committee.
“I am the chairman of that committee comprising traditional rulers, heads of Fulani communities, and heads of security agencies in the state.
“This committee was set up by His Excellency, the governor of the state and he has been doing a whole lot of wonderful jobs.
“Where we have cases of Fulani cattle destroying property, we step into such cases and we examine the circumstances and we have always come up with solutions where victims have been compensated.
“We also talk to Fulani leaders ensure that the avoid invasion of people’s crops and destroying property.
“He also lashed out on those who carried the false news, referring to them as “mischief makers”.
He described the act as unfair, while asking them to desist from doing it.
“They are not doing the community or the society any good. You don’t go about raising false alarm and putting people on high jump.
“I don’t know what they benefit from that, may be for obvious reasons, for pecuniary reasons they do that. But I think nemesis will catch up with such people soon. I can assure if that happens, they will pay for their sins.
“We will not condone that kind of act. It’s unfair for anybody to just wake up one day and start raising false alarm and telling falsehood all over the places, it doesn’t help us and it doesn’t help the person either.
“So I warn them to desist henceforth because we will definitely catch up with such people, we will do,” Mr. Okaula said.