By Marie-Therese Nanlong, Jos
In the last two months, there have been reported cases of destruction of grown crops on farmlands of some natives in different communities in Plateau State.
Among the worst-hit are communities in Riyom, Barkin Ladi, and Bassa local government areas of the State.
Although the development has drawn the ire of the State Governor, Simon Lalong who asked security agents to investigate, apprehend and prosecute perpetrators of the act, the farmers are appealing for help as they fear chronic hunger will pervade the land as their means of livelihood is destroyed.
To this, Irigwe people are calling the world’s attention to their plights, chronicling the series of destruction they have witnessed in recent times.
The people through the National President, Irigwe Youths Movement, Ezekiel Bini, National Secretary, Zamfara Ishagoro and National Publicity Secretary, Lawrence Zongo emphasized the tactic was a deliberate effort to throw “the entire Rigwe nation into famine, dearth, excessive hunger, food insufficiency, inadequacy, and untimely death.”
According to the trio in a statement, “The Fulani marauders have been wreaking havoc on the farmlands of Rigwe nation where a variety of crops such as maize, sweet potatoes, acha, Irish potatoes, pepper, tomatoes, cabbage, carrot, green pepper, soya beans, etc have been encroached, destroyed and shattered beyond growth within the span of seven months of this year, 2021.
“Over 700 farmlands with crops worth over N2,000,000,000 have been destroyed within the said time frame. The recent destruction of farm crops in Rigweland for the month of June and July are as follows:
“On the 3rd of June, 2021 four farmlands at Chuvo were destroyed; on the 4th June, 2021 five farmlands were destroyed; on the 6th June, 2021, three farmlands were destroyed all at Chuvo. On the 17th June 2021, nine farmlands at Ri-bakwa were destroyed; on the 18th June 2021, four farmlands at Nnunche Kpara were destroyed.
“On the 20th June, 2021, 12 farmlands were destroyed at Ri-bakwa and Te’egbe; on the 4th July, 2021 eight farmlands at Chuvo were destroyed; on the 9th June 2021, over 45 farmlands at Zonwrru were destroyed. On the 10th,12th,14th July 2021, 22 farmlands at Nzhwaruba were destroyed; on the 16th and 18th, July 2021 six farmlands at Chuvo were destroyed.
“Over 25 farmlands have also been destroyed by the same marauders at Ancha village within the same period. Rikwe-Chongu village also experienced the same destruction worth over 50 farmlands and the most recent is the total destruction of over 25 plots of farmlands on the 19th July 2021 at Ri-bakwa and Nchetahu of Kpachudu Community.”
They added, “A Rigwe man’s best identity is farming and that for ages has been our major source of livelihood, one will not be wrong to state that the ultimate target of the marauders is to use hunger as another strategy of wiping the entire Rigwe tribe.”
They asked that the directive by the governor for the incident to be investigated and the perpetrators punished should not be swept under the carpet.
They stressed, “We are happy that the State Governor, Barr Simon Lalong has swiftly reacted this time around, to the recent one at Ri-bakwa village of Kpachudu community with stern warning and directive that security agents immediately swing into action by investigating the act of terrorism with a view of ensuring that the perpetrators are apprehended.
“He also directed the Plateau State Peace Building Agency (PPBA) to visit the affected place to ascertain the level of damage with a view of providing succor. And he finally said that justice will be served.
“All these are well commended and applauded however, it is on record that similar press releases and statements have been done in the past with no action seen and that has contributed in allowing the perpetrators continued having a field day in committing their atrocities.
“This can be affirmed that even after the Press Statement of the Governor on Wednesday 21 July 2021 that the perpetrators be arrested, the Fulani marauders dared him and with effrontery macheted and destroyed over 15 farmlands at Zanwra on the night of Wednesday 21 July 2021( Same day the Press Statement was issued) They also ambushed and killed one of us at Ancha village of Miango District same Wednesday 21 July 2021 around 6 pm.
“These are proofs that its time the Government and all other statutory bodies bestowed with the responsibility of safeguarding lives and property go beyond rhetorics by giving them the treatment in the language they understand because these are purely acts of terrorism and should be treated as such.”