By Lawrence Olaoye
The federal government will this month host the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ministerial conference to discuss modalities for halting the invasion of herdsmen from neighbouring countries into the country.
Fielding questions from newsmen after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) chaired by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulrahman Danbazzau (rtd), also disclosed that the conference will be declared opened by President Muhammadu Buhari on the 26th of this month.
This came as he dismissed the insinuations that the Shitte Islamic sect was planning to attack the Federal Capital Territory.
Asked what the government was planning to checkmate the invasion of armed herdsmen from the neighbouring states, Dambazzau said “This is why we initiated the conference that is to come up between 26th and 29th of this month under the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Goods and Services. Zeroing particularly on the protocol of trans-humans which was signed in 1978 and we are yet to implement them. I had meeting with the president of ECOWAS Commission, the one that left and we agreed to have this conference sometimes last month but they were leaving, and the new set of management coming in, it was shifted to towards the end of this month.
“The whole idea is to look at this issue of movement across borders. The protocol provided for instance, that any of such movement, of trans-human should be received at the reception center by the host country and there international trans-human certificate are supposed to guide them. And not only that, they should also go along with international health certificates for the cattle they are going with.
So, if somebody comes in with 10 cattle for instance, and if he is going out with 20, you have to ask him questions because of the issue of cattle rustling. We will also be able to know that the animals he is bringing do not carry disease. We also want to be sure that they obey the laws of the country to the letter. And the issue of carrying of arms because it is a no go area, we have zero tolerance to that because it is not part of the protocol.
So, these are the issues that will be discussed at a high level ministerial conference which involves all ministers responsible for internal security and agriculture in all these countries, the fifteen ECOWAS countries plus some of these countries in Central Africa, particular, Chad, Cameroun and Central African Republic. And also, it will involve Mauritania and Morocco. Mr. President has graciously agreed to open the conference on 26th, so it is of great concern to us.
On the threats by the Shiite, the minister urged caution assuring that the police was on top of the matter.