Hundreds of farmers from over 12 villages in the Oja Odan community in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State, on Wednesday, protested the incessant attacks and destruction of their farms by herdsmen and their cattle.
The farmers who took their protest to the Palace of the Eselu of Iseluland, Oba Akintunde Akinyemi, alleged that they have also lost farm produce worth millions of naira to the over 8,000 herds of cattle that routinely graze on their farms.
They added that one of them was killed, last week, by violent herdsmen, who also cut off one of the hands of the murdered man’s son.
Speaking on behalf of the protesting farmers, the Jagun Oba of Iseluland, Chief Festus Olabode Aina, said the herdsmen were intruders from the Republic of Niger and Chad.
Aina urged the monarch to convey their plights to the state and federal governments for urgent intervention, expressing fear that there could be bloodshed as witnessed in 2007 if the ‘peace-loving villagers’ patience’ thins out and they resort to self-defense.
He added that the available stream that supplies the water for drinking and domestic purposes has been polluted with cow dungs.
He stressed that their women and daughters also suffer dehumanisation, abuse, and humiliation in the hands of herdsmen.
Responding, Oba Akinyemi lauded the farmers for their peaceful conduct and advised them to continue to be calm, adding that they should not take the laws into their hands.
While assuring them that their message would be communicated to the government, the monarch lamented that the herders returned to the community in large numbers when the Benin Republic soldiers vent their anger on them over the border closure and sent them packing from their country.
Speaking with newsmen, the Eselu appealed to the government to intervene. “Ever since I have been on the throne, this has always been a problem we have been trying to tame but because of the stubbornness of these herdsmen, they find it difficult to tame them.
“The problem has become more tedious because many of them are from Benin Republic and Niger. My people are saying they can’t take it anymore. The soldiers in the Republic of Benin chased the herdsmen out and they now saw our community as an alternative.
“They are now destroying our crops, raping our women, maiming our men among others. So, as a matter of fact, I am appealing to the government to please come to the aid of my people as a matter of urgency.”
The Ogun State Police Command said it is aware of the community’s protest and assured that there would be security beef up in the area to support those already on ground to ensure safety for the villagers and farmers.
Speaking through the Command’s Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, it added that the Police would continue to put measures in place to prevent the breakdown of law and order in that part of the state.