Residents of Orin-Ekiti in Ido/Osi local government area of Ekiti state on Wednesday protested against the alleged attempt by suspected herdsmen to forcefully take over the community lands by hoisting their flags.
A hunter, Mr Emmanuel Ilori was killed by suspected herdsmen while hunting in the farm settlement sometime in June this year.
Also, it will be recalled that people of the community had raised alarm a few weeks over the invasion of their farmlands by herders with their cows where crops worth over N80 million were destroyed.
The protesters, comprising old and young men and women revealed that their lives are being threatened by the herdsmen, regretting that the herders had destroyed crops 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.
Addressing journalists, 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.
According to him, “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 the government has not been doing something. Several hectares of land had been destroyed. They used to operate at night with AK 47 rifle.
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“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 incur debts.
“We appeal to the government to use the 2500 acres of land in the settlement 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 truly invest in it.”
A youth leader, Mr Omotoso Mathew Kayode disclosed 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 now.
“We used to do nightguard to ward off the 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 and leave our community. Governor Kayode Fayemi must relocate them. From our findings, they used to enter into this place from neighbouring towns like Isan, the hometown of the governor Ayede, and Ido and we are suspecting conspiracy. There may be famine in the land with the way things are going.
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“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,” he said.
Omotoso appealed to Fayemi to compensate the farmers , for them not to abandon farming and compound their living conditions.
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.