By Ismaila Chafe
The 15-member countries of the ECOWAS would converge in Abuja on April 26 to begin deliberation on the violent clashes between farmers and herders across the sub-region.
The meeting which would be opened by President Muhammadu Buhari was designed to finding permanent solutions to the persistent farmers-herders clashes in Nigeria and beyond.
The Minister of Interior, retired Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, said after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja that the meeting said that the conference, which was initially planned for last February.
”This is why, for instance, we initiated the conference that is to come up between April 26 and 29 under the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Goods and Services.
The conference would focus particularly on the protocol on the movement of trans-humans which was signed in 1978 but yet to be implemented.
“I had meetings with President ECOWAS Commission, the one that left, and we agreed to have this conference sometime last month. But because they were leaving and new set of management was coming in it was shifted to toward the end of this month.
”So, the whole idea is to look at this issue of movements across borders.
”So, this month, on April 26, God willing, we are going to have this conference and Mr President has graciously agreed to open the conference,’’ he said
He said the conference, which would also attract participants from the Central African Republic, Chad, Cameroon, Morocco and Mauritania would explore the relationship between the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, and trans-border criminal activities.
The minister also alerted Nigerians on fake news alerts being circulated in the social media.
Dambazau, who was particularly reacting to purported invasion of Abuja by members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), popularly known as Shi’ites, urged citizens to be mindful of such news.
He assured that the nation’s security agencies were in full control of the situation.
“Well, I am not sure of where that alert is coming from. You know that these days, you have to be very mindful of these things in the social media.
“It is like I saw one yesterday saying that there is going to be nuclear attack in the United Kingdom and
was broadcast by the BBC, and it is fake. So, you have to be very careful with that.
”But I want to reassure you that law and order exist within the society and the FCT minister is very aware and is on top of it because of what happened recently. The commissioner of police is aware and is part of it.
“About some people attacking or not, I think is something that we have to be cautious of where such information is coming from. If there is anything like that, you will get it from official sources.
“As at now, there is nothing like that because the police are handling that. You must have listened to the news last night and this morning, the commissioner of police FCT came out to speak and he assured all residents of FCT of security of lives and property.’’
The minister also disclosed that the federal executive council approved N288 million for the purchase of eight rapid intervention vehicles for the Federal Fire Service and fire-fighting equipment and 25 operational vehicles at N4.5 billion.
He said the council also approved N166million for the procurement of 285 motorcycles for the Nigerian Immigration Service for border patrol and security assignments across the country.