Hundreds of farmers – men and women- from over 12 villages in Oja Odan community and its environs in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State have protested the incessant attacks by herdsmen and wanton destruction of their farm crops by grazing cattle.
The grieving farmers who took their protest march on Wednesday to the Palace of the traditional ruler of the area, the Eselu of Iseluland, Oba Akintunde Akinyemi, alleged that one of them was killed last week by violent herdsmen, who also cruelly chopped off one of the hands of the murdered man’s son.
They further alleged that they have also lost tens of millions in farm crops to the over 8,000 heads of cattle that routinely graze on their farms, devour the crops and trampling down others as they move indiscriminately from one end to the other.
The Jagun Oba of Iseluland, Chief Festus Olabode Aina, who spoke on behalf of the protesting farmers at the Palace of Oba Akinyemi, said the herdsmen were intruders from Republic of Niger and Chad.
He said having been chased out of Republic of Benin, they surged into their villages and practically took over the farms and forests.
Aina urged the monarch to convey their plights to the state and Federal governments to come to their rescue quickly and drive the herdsmen away, fearing that they could be bloodshed as witnessed in 2007, should the “peace loving villagers’ patience” thinned out and gives way in self defence to direct confrontation with the offending herdsmen.
According to him, their age- long stream that supplies them water for drinking and domestic purposes have been muddied, polluted and soiled with cow droppings by the cattle which go their for water daily while their women, daughters and sisters 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 and not take the laws in their hands, assuring that their message would be communicated to the governments.
The monarch lamented that the herders returned to the community in their large numbers after the Benin republic soldiers vent their anger on them over the boarder closure and sent them packing from their country.
Speaking with reporters, the Eselu appeals to the government to intervene and let the fulani herdsmen leave the community immediately before things goes out of hands.
The monarch said:”Well, my people are here today to agitate against the abuse, killings, destruction of crops by the Fulani herdsmen in our community. It is surprising to me to see my people , representatives of different communities where we have over 26,000 voters protesting this morning.
“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 this herdsmen, it has became so difficult to tame them.
“The problem have become more tedious because many of them are now from Benin republic and Niger. My people are saying they can’t take it anymore. The soldiers in republic of Benin have chased the herdsmen out and they have now seen our community as an alternative at the expense of the peace of our people in our land.
“They are now destroying our crops raping our women, maiming our men among others. So, as a matter of fact, I have to employ an appeal to the government to please come to the aid of our people as a matter of urgency.”
However, the Ogun State Police Command said it is aware of the community’s protest but assured that there would be security beef up in the 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 a breakdown law and order in that part of the state