By Chinedu Adonu
There is palpable tension in Agu- Ekwegbe, Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu State following the invasion and destruction of farms worth more than N50 million by herders while grazing their cattle.
The owner of the farm, John Abonyi, lamented that Fulani herders have resorted to grazing their cattle on his farm.
He regretted that all effort made by him and his workers to stop them from entering his farm hit the rock as Nigeria Police refused to come to their rescue even when one of the herders were arrested.
Briefing journalists who went round the over three hectares of farm lands devastated by herders said that they invaded the farm he planted both maize and beans few days after he applied fertilizer on the crop.
While recounting the level of damage, said, “the major challenge we farmers is facing in South East is the issue of herdsmen invasion of our farm. As you can see here, the Fulani headers have invaded this farm three times and it’s really affecting us. I have reported to the police and other security agencies but they didn’t come to our rescue.
“After application of fertilizer last Monday, they came on Thursday and grazed on my farm. They destroyed everything in the farm that I planted maize and beans. I called Area command Udenu and he directed me to call the DPO, I called the DPO and he said I should come to the station. I told him that they should come to the farm to see the extent the herders destroyed my farm but he insisted I must come.
“The next thing was a call and behold he said he is the chairman of Fulani herdsmen in Nsukka. So, I asked him to come and see what his boys did in my farm, but he said I should come to the police station. Painfully as we are talking of what happened on Thursday, they came back again on Tuesday and grazed inside my farm. There is forest around here but they preferred grazing inside my farm.
“I have suffered; I invested more than N50million here but look at what fulani herdsmen have done to me. How will I pay the loan I collected? I left the North because of Boko Haram issue and came back home to do my business but look at what I have been subjected to by Fulani herders. Where will I run to now?
“Even yesterday, they came back and met my workers who incidentally caught one of them and I called police but they insisted that I should come to the station instead of coming here to take the boy we caught. The boy was released because there was nobody to help us take him to police station,” he said.
While appealing to government at all level to come to his aid said that as a civil servant he cannot buy anything with his monthly salary because of inflation in the country but try to sustain hunger with farming.
Also speaking, the Town Union President of the community, Mr Ene Uchechukwu lamented the level of destruction in the farm land and appealed to state government intervention.
He regretted that the community who survives by farming cannot save themselves as Fulani herders continuously invades their farms with AK-47, surround them and graze the farm with their cattle.
“The herdsmen have more sophisticated weapon than the security men. You cannot do anything when they surrender you with their AK-47 gun in your farm. We are suffering in Agu-Ekwegbe because we are using borrowed money (loan) to farm to enable us make some profit and take care of our wards but after farming, the herdsmen will invade and destroy it.
“We need the intervention and help from Enugu state government. Apart from destruction of farms, they also indulge in robbing and kidnapping of commuters in Agu-Ekwuegbe,” he appealed for help.