By Rotimi Ojomoyela
The residents of Orin Ekiti, Ido/Osi local government area of Ekiti State on Wednesday protested an alleged attempt by suspected herdsmen to forcefully take over their lands.
The protesters, comprising old and young men and women, regretted that the suspected herdsmen had destroyed crops worth over N50 million in farms belonging to 70 farmers.
The protesters, who chanted derisive songs against the Invaders, paraded placards with the following inscriptions: “Save Our Lives We are in danger in Orin Ekiti’ , ‘Save Orin Ekiti from Herdsmen invasion’, ‘We are Tired of molestation by Herdsmen’, ‘We Won’t Allow Fulani to Chase us from Our Land’, ‘Government Must Relocate Fulani Herdsmen’, among others.
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Addressing journalists on the matter, the Onikare of Orin Ekiti, Chief Bamidele Fasuyi, alleged that the herders, had occupied and destroyed crops planted on the abandoned 2500 acres of land at Orin Farm settlement .
“What they wanted is to invade our land and chase us away. They even killed one of our able-bodied men this year. They are imposing some curfew in this town, because our youths can’t go to farm freely and government has not been doing something. Several hectares of land had been destroyed. They used to operate at night with AK 47 rifle.
“Over 70 farmers were affected in our record. Crops worth 50 million have been ravaged. They ate up their products like Cocoayam, yam, cassava and others and made them to incur debts.
“We appeal to government to use the 2500 acres of land for farming. The state and federal government, as well as private bodies, should come to our aid. There were facilities like electricity, buildings and equipment that can aid farming if they want to invest “.
A youth leader, Mr. Omotoso Mathew Kayode, alleged that the suspected herders had hoisted a flag at the farm settlement, where they warned the farmers to keep off or face death.
“They wrote keep off with a picture of a cattle rearer on the flag. This is a serious threat. The police, NSCDC and soldiers removed the flag last year, but they had hoisted another one.
“We used to do nightguard to ward off attack, because the police had found it difficult to arrest them. Our graduates who have no jobs were going into farming, but they are suffering losses because of destruction by cows.
“, They must vacate the place. Governor Kayode Fayemi must relocate them. From our findings, they used to enter into this place from neighbouring towns like Isan, Ayede, and Ido and we are suspecting conspiracy. There may be famine in the land with the way things are going.
“We are not compromising our stand on this relocation. Chief Obafemi Awolowo-led government in the old Western region acquired the land in 1958 for arable farming and not for ranching”.
Omotoso appealed to Fayemi to compensate the farmers, for them not to abandon farming Outrightly.
The Oniwaro of Orin, Chief Mathew Oke, said Fayemi should comply with his promise to build a police station in the town and rejuvenate the farm settlement to ward off herdsmen invasion in the area.