By Temitope Adedeji, Akure
Akure, the Ondo State capital was thrown into fear on Thursday as farmers in Arodoye Community, in Akure South Local Government Area, were left in tears after herdsmen invaded their farms, destroying over 200 acres of farmlands in the area, while a woman was also killed on her farm during the herdsmen invasion.
The affected farmers who lamented the incessant invasion of the herdsmen on their farms said that millions of Naira have been lost to the destruction of their farms by destroying their farm produce.
The farmers, who listed some of the farm produces destroyed by the herdsmen to include, Cassava, cocoyams, yams, vegetables while some part of cocoa farm was set on fire.
Speaking on behalf of the farmers, Justice Micheal Omoyemi, traced the genesis of the invasion to December 2016 when the herdsmen harvested most of the farm produce during the Christmas /New Year break.
He said, “the herdsmen also returned last December destroying over 5,000 heaps of cassava in my farm. They took the advantage of the break and brought their cattle and uprooted the cassava to feed their cows.
“We have reported the herdsmen to the security agents in the past and also to the traditional ruler of Akure, Deji of Akureland, Oba Aladelusi Aladetoyinbo who promised to wade into the matter.”
According to him, “The herdsmen are determined to send the farmers out of the farm in the south west unless steps are taken by the concerned authorities, hence it will degenerate to ethnic clashes in the south west. What they have destroyed in a twinkle of an eye is worth million of Naira.”
Also speaking, one of the farmers, Victory Oweh, said he lost over ten acres to the herdsmen and their cows, saying, the herdsmen also set his farm on fire after destroying his farm.
He said, “We are just respecting the law of the land and trying not to take law into our hands. We have been reporting them to the security agents with no positive results.”
He disclosed that he voluntarily resigned from office some two years ago to embrace farming, but said the incessant invasion on his farm has been discouraging him.
He said “I cannot imagine working all through the year and some herdsmen and their cattle will invade our farms to destroy all my labour in just one day.
“We hereby urge the Ondo State Government to follow the steps taken by the Ekiti state government by enacting laws to curb the activities of the herdsmen in the state. We are calling on the state government and security agents in the state before taking laws into our hands.”
He explained that one of the farmers, Patience Salami, was killed on her farm by the herdsmen some three weeks ago, and so far, no arrest was made to bring the perpetrators to book.
Speaking on the implications of the development, Justice Owoyemi, said with the incessant invasion of herdsmen on farms in the area, “people will be sent out of the farm, this will affect food production in the South west, and the country at large”
“Some people depend on farming while some people are destroying these farms, this will not encourage farming. Most of these people here depend on the farm produce to cater for their family and send their children to school.”
Owoyemi however disclosed that the farmers had petition the State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, Security agencies and the Ministry of Agriculture.