From Stanley Uzoaru,Owerri
Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma said he was quoted out of context by some section of the media on his recent comment on open grazing ban by the Southern governors.
Uzodimma who gave the clarification through the State commissioner for information and strategy, Declan Emelumba said that was he meant was that farmers and herders were peacefully coexisting in the state as a result of mutual respect and understanding.
He added that contrary to insinuations, the state has an open grazing law which became operative since 2006.
According to the Governor, the law he noted provided for areas that were restricted from open grazing, stressing that the herders have been abiding by it.
“The MOU the farmers and Herders signed was to strengthen the existing law and it is working very well, the Governor further clarified.
He regretted the extreme interpretation the media gave to his comments on the matter, saying that what was important was the peaceful way farmers and herders have been coexisting in the state.
According to him, “whereas a law on anti grazing may be desirable, dialogue and understanding as is the case in Imo state were more effective in addressing the conflict.
Uzodinma however urged Nigerians to embrace inclusiveness and tolerance as necessary tools in building and sustaining a united country.
The governor noted that all activities of the states and the people should be geared towards uniting the country and not creating divisions.
He commended farmers and herders in Imo state for living in peace and pledged the support of government towards ensuring that they sustain their cordial relationship.
Meanwhile, Uzodimma has urged striking oil marketers and tanker drivers to suspend their actions and follow due process in the resolution of the conflict.
It reiterated its earlier position that the strike is illegal since the contentious matter of judgment debt is before the Appeal Court.
He said that although what the oil marketers are doing amounted to blackmail and economic sabotage, Government has reached out to them to ensure that the strike is called off.
“We have initiated talks with them. But it is important for Nigerians to know that the matter for which they started this strike is still in court. In the eyes of the law, the strike is illegal”, the commissioner averred.
He disclosed that although the judgment which was obtained by a private firm Sunaz oil nig Ltd against Timik consult Ltd and Imo state government was done without the knowledge and legal representation from the government, it has not discountenanced it.
” It is instructive here that when the Okorocha administration demolished the petrol station, the marketers restrained themselves from taking the law into their hands by not embarking on any illegal action. Instead the affected dealer went to court ,suggesting that the marketers believe in the rule of law.
“It is therefore surprising that the same people do not want the law to take its full course by embarking on an illegal action when the matter is still pending in the court of appeal ” the commissioner noted.
According to him, what Government did was simply to appeal the judgment to enable it understand fully what was involved since it was the administration of Rochas Okorocha that carried out the act under consideration.
He said that government has since informed the oil marketers that it will not hesitate to pay the judgment debt if the appeal is ruled against it.
He accused the Sunaz oil nig. Ltd of taking undue advantage of his relationship with tanker drivers to drag them into a purely private matter that has nothing to do with tanker drivers.
He regretted that the filling station which obtained the judgment is yet to start the process of execution before the oil marketers embarked on the strike.
“The private company got the judgment on March this year. Government became aware of it only this July. Without even initiating the due process of execution of the judgment, these people are on strike. That reeks of blackmail and economic sabotage”.
The governor has therefore advised the oil workers to immediately call of the strike in the interest of the Imo masses whom he said are innocent victims of their ill advised action.