August 9, 2023

Farmers/ herders clashes reduced by 95 per cent in Ondo — Amotekun boss

Farmers/ herders clashes reduced by 95 per cent in Ondo — Amotekun boss

By Dayo Johnson, Akure

The Ondo state Security outfit codenamed Amotekun, said it has reduced farmers/ herders clashes by 95 percent in the last two years across the state.

Addressing newsmen in Akure, it’s commander, Chief Adetunji Adeleye, said that the birth of the outfit has checkmated criminal activities across the state.

Adeleye spoke during an interactive session organised by the state Correspondent Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), tagged: “The Platform”.

“By the time we took off, within two weeks, we received over 5,000 petitions of herders/farmers clashes. It was becoming impossible for farmers to go to their farms completely, for fear of herders molesting, kidnapping, maiming or killing them.

“It was becoming very difficult for civil servants to board a taxi across the town without being kidnapped, molested or robbed daylight. The worse was climbing on Okada.

“The first area of attack by Amotekun was the herders/farmers clashes.

“We started by mass public enlightenment that farmers have the right to plant and herders the right to rear their cows but they don’t have the right to infringe on the business of the other one and after this, we called the meeting of the Miyetti Allah group in the state and South West and we explained the position of the corps, giving a deadline after which we announced that we will commence enforcement.

“To the glory of God, in our first operation, we found out that even within Alagbaka GRA where government house and office is located, over 500 cows that were forcefully taken over from a widow, were kept there and all efforts in the last five years, by the widow to recover them was met with stiff opposition from the herdsmen with a final warning that if she dare comes there again, they will bury her alive in the premises.

“So, we followed suit and we were able to arrest over 200 of the cows, the owners of the farmlands that were destroyed around the place came for compensation because we made sure that in compliance with the position of the state government, they paid for whatever they destroyed.

“In the next few days we were able to arrest a thousand cows from the owena dam around Igbara-oke. We also made sure that upon negotiation between the farmers/herders, they paid for whatever they destroyed before releasing their cows to them”,

Adeleye pointed that the implementation of the anti-open grazing law in the state was also an added advantage for the agency.

“The good story about it is that, at a point in time, the government came up with an anti-open grazing law which further enhances our position in enforcement and the terms of the law was clear- No underage grazing, no night grazing, no grazing on the major roads to cause accident, no grazing in the metropolis and all forms of transportation of cows, trailers and trucks should be used.

“The punishment ranges from several months imprisonment and payment of fines including the cost of logistics of the enforcement.

“Two years after, the issue of farmers/herders clashes reduced by over 95 percent. We only have pockets of clashes and of course, they know the implication.

“We had taken quite a number of erring herders to court. We’ve equally taken farmers who took laws into their hands and seized Fulani cows to court for stealing.

” This is to show the position of government that herders have a right to their herds but not at the expense of farmers or any other members of the society”.

Speaking on arrest made by the outfit, Adeleye said that ” We have arrested no fewer than 7,000 criminals across the state within the last three and half years of its creation.

” Out of the 7,000 arrested, about 1,500 of them have been charged to court and it has secured judgement of many of them.

” The crisis of farmers/herders clashes has reduced by over 95 per cent in the last two years.

Adeleye who doubles as the Special Adviser (Security Matters) to the state governor, said that ” With the support the support sister security agencies, particularly, the DSS has often assisted us in getting the requisite geo-location of kidnap victims and suspects.

“All these coupled with our local intellect and unconventional methods had assisted us in arresting to date, well over 7,000 suspected criminals out of which 1,500 of them have been charged to court.

“We’ve even secured judgement of very many of them. At a time when the turnout of criminals was becoming unmanageable for the judiciary, the government of Oluwarotimi Akeredolu graciously approved the building of two courts to assist the judiciary in the prompt dispensation of justice”.

Adeleye said the birth of the Amotekun Corps in the state has made the state to be adjudged one of the most peaceful states in the country.

“We are all living witnesses to the fact that today, Ondo State rank as one of the safest state in this country.

“What we have right now in Ondo State is pockets of violence in border areas and in response to this, the government has directed, in which we’ve implemented some of them now, putting in place, offices and control points in Imoru, Ijagba axis to take care of kidnapping and violence around Ose local government while Jugbere is to take care of the Akure North and we are proposing three other strategic ones, such that by the end of the year, all our porous boarder villages and towns will be adequately covered by the activities of the corps.

On discipline in the security outfit, the commander said that four erring officers have been dismissed, while many others have been sent to detention centres to ensure that they conform with the norms and standard operations practice of the organisation.

The commander, however, lamented that the major challenge confronting the agency ” is inadequate weapons to match criminals.

Adeleye noted that “Some of the challenges we face a result of inadequate equipment has resulted in the death of some of our men. But we aren’t deterred.