The Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, has given herdsmen 24 hours ultimatum to vacate the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo state.
This is in view of the allegation made by the Vice Chancellor of the institution, Francis Eze, over the alleged destruction of their farms by herdsmen.
The Vice Chancellor, briefly said: “We are facing a lot of challenges just the other day, I was discussing the cattle invasion, destroying our crops which is really affecting our farms and what we should produce.
“Not just that the herdsmen are destroying our farms they are also harassing our students with cattle and we need to join hands to tackle it. These and many more are the challenges we are experiencing in this institution.”
Reacting, COSEYL, said: “We condemn in strong terms the incursion of Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO) by Fulani herders who have taken over the school environment as its new settlement for grazing and habitation with their goats and cattles.”
It was the group that concluded that the herdsmen should “Leave the University environment within 24 hours or risk been arrested and prosecuted. The southeast Governors forum has before now banned movement of cattle on foot. What are they still doing there? The owners of those cattles should move them out of the University premises now.
“A University environment is a serene premise for reading and other educational activities. It is never a place for cattle grazing or a settlement for pastoralists. It is an aberration to hear that a University academic environment has been taken over by Fulani herdsmen and their cattle.
“The most worrisome aspect of the entire scenario is that students mainly the female ones find it very difficult to move around the school premises for fear of been attacked or raped by herdsmen.
“The large number of these cattle frightens the students and makes it very difficult for them to go out to read at night. They now live in fear in an environment they are meant to be free to pursue their academics. Evening reading and preparatory classes is now a bygone issue in the school, thanks to the pastoralists.”
They also concluded that “The incursion of the herders into the school environment clearly depicts that the school premises are not properly fenced. Pastoralists and other Intruders can access the school premises unhindered. It is dangerous for an institution of that magnitude not to be properly fenced for the security of lecturers, the students and school properties and valuables.
“His Excellency, Governor Emeka Ihedioha who is the Chief Security Officer of the state should urgently make arrangements with security agencies to evacuate the herdsmen from the school environment to avoid any future clash with the students. “Prevention they say is better than a cure. The time to prevent future clash or break down of law and order is now.”