Incessant attacks on farmlands by suspected herdsmen are now giving people sleepless night. BABATOPE OKEOWO reports that suspected herdsmen attacked the palace of a monarch and the farmland of a retired civil servant within a week. The development has made the people ask the government to protect lives of farmers in the South-West geo-political zone
A 70-year old farmer, Patrick Chukwudinju Nwanjor, has raised the alarm over incessant attacks on his farmland by suspected Fulani herdsmen, a development that has sent him out of farming business.
The case of the septuagenarian from Delta State is made worse because he is a pensioner, who has not received his gratuities from the government since he retired from service in 2006.
The farm, which is his only means of survival is being threatened by activities of the herdsmen, who have made farming business difficult for him.
Nwanjor said all his efforts to make sure he feeds his family through farming had been frustrated by activities of the herdsmen who usually invade his farm each time his produce was ripe for harvest.
Speaking with New Telegraph in his farmland, the angry farmer begged the government to pay his pension and gratuity or check the activities of the Fulani herdsmen.
His words: “These herdsmen have been worrying me since 2015. Each time I cultivate cassava farm, they will come with their cows to eat everything. They usually eat my cassava and cocoyam. There was a time I made 12,000 heaps of cassava. They went there and ate everything. Another time, I made another one, and they ate everything and destroyed the farm. I had to report to Civil Defence. They arrested them, they asked them to pay me damages of N450.000; they started begging that they have cases in many communities, Police and courts. “They promised to pay N15,000. The officer said they should look for money and give me. That, if they take the matter to court, they would be made to pay fine. They now promised to pay N20,000. After that time, they went to my other farm and destroyed it. I cannot report again. Since 2015, they have been coming to eat my cassava farm.
“It was last Saturday they came to my maize farm and ate it up. Since they destroyed the cassava farm, I cannot go back. I shifted to maize, and they also came and destroyed it. It was the day I wanted to harvest the maize, so as to eat and sell part, they came and ate it. They use to come in the night when they know there would not be people on the farm that they came and destroyed the farm.
“I want people to know what is happening not to me alone; they also ate my people’s farm. If they meet you on the farm, they will fight and nearly kill you. The government should halt the activities of these herdsmen. I retired as a civil servant since 2006. Since then, I have been waiting for the government to pay my entitlements. They have not paid. If they pay me, I will leave the farm for the herdsmen.” Before the attack on the farmland of Nwanjor, some herdsmen had attacked the palace of Onigedegede of Gedegede in Akoko Northwest Local Government Area of the state and threatened to kill the monarch, Oba Walidu Sanni.
The monarch said nine herdsmen stormed his palace, harassed and threatened him because he has reported the continued destruction of his subjects’ farm produce and farmlands to the police. Oba Sanni raised an alarm over the threat to his life, his immediate family members and people of his town by the herdsmen. The monarch said that he reported the case to the police after he seized a gun and a cutlass which he deposited to the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of Okeagbe Police Station, Mr. Johnson Akintola.
Speaking at a stakeholders parley initiated by the state government in order to douse tension and apprehension in the council area, the monarch said the government’s timely intervention saved the situation from becoming bloody.
According to him, his subjects were spoiling for a showdown following the herdsmen invasion of his palace and his harassment. The traditional ruler noted that the incident was reported to the Chairman, Akoko Northwest Local Government Area, Samson Akande and his colleagues’ traditional rulers in the area. The timely intervention of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who deployed his Special Assistant on Security Matters, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo to douse the tension saved the tensed situation.
Dojumo at the meeting said carrying of arms and ammunition were prohibited while grazing in any part of the state.
These various attacks made the PDP in the Southwest geo-political zone to raise the alarm over the high rate of kidnapping and attacks by suspected kidnappers in the zone. The party said the governors of the zone should shun partisan leaning and tackle insecurity in the six states of the zone.
In a statement by the zonal Publicity Secretary, Mr. Ayo Fadaka, the party said the governors of the zone should explain to the people why they collect security votes if people, including monarchs are no longer safe in their houses and palaces.
The statement titled “Southwest under siege”, said people can no longer sleep because of the threat of kidnappers and Fulani herdsmen.
Fadaka said: “It is unfortunate to state that the South West is today under the siege of Fulani terrorists or herdsmen who perpetrate criminal actions daily in the most unfettered manner. In our region, kidnapping, assault and rape by these marauders remain unchecked.
This lethargy has even emboldened them to even attack a traditional ruler in his palace, without repercussions, thus egregiously making a bold statement that we the Yoruba have become their captives.
“This, we condemn out rightly as a direct assault, insult and desecration of our corporate heritage as Yoruba people. Much as we know that we cannot use the activities of these criminals to judge the entire Fulani people, many of whom are accomplished and responsible leaders in our party and nation, we, however, restate that the average Yorubaman is now compelled to believe that plans remain afoot to conquer and subdue us in our fatherland.
“This belief is further reinforced by the fact government’s security agencies directly under the control of Mr. President have so far done almost nothing to challenge and out rightly put a stop to these insidiously dangerous actions of the so-called herdsmen.
“President Buhari must as a matter of fact know that Yoruba people’s confidence in his ability to make peace reign in our nation continues to sink every day and the danger in this is that resort to self-help may soon become the order of the day, except he takes concrete security/military actions in the South West immediately.
“We also condemn the Governors of the South West, particularly those of Ekiti, Osun, Ondo and Oyo for not doing enough to safeguard their people. Roads across these states have become the theater of operation of these hoodlums and they seem to stand by helplessly and watch, thereby making us queries what indeed they spend the humongous sum they take as security vote on.
“When we recall that this same Ekiti that is the Fulani terrorists/ herdsmen main operational theatre was bereft of developments of this nature under ex-Governor Ayo Fayose, it calls to question the commitment of all our governors to keep our region safe.”
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