People of Orin-Ekiti in Ido Osi Local Government Area, (LGA) of Ekiti State have raised the alarm over alleged invasion of their farmlands by suspected herdsmen.
They made an appeal to the government to come to their aids and rescue them from unknown herdsmen who came from far away to invade their fatherland.
These people lamented that, their unemployed children have resorted to farming, but worse still, the unemployed graduates were unable to go to their farms because of herdsmen who have taken over the land.
The grievous aspect of development according to the people of Orin-Ekiti is the erection of flag by the herdsmen as a sign of ‘Dangerous zone,’ warning them to keep off the land. As it is, the residents of Orin-Ekiti are leaving in panic and fear over activities of these alleged strangers whom they claimed perpetrating heinous acts, trooping into the community in midnights.
They said the land was reserved as farmstead since 1958, by late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, to enable the community involved in agricultural development; the objective according to them has been sabotaged by the herdsmen invasion. Few months ago, a hunter, Mr Emmanuel Ilori was reportedly machete to death in the same community by suspected herdsmen. Ilori was said to have been killed at midnight while hunting for animals with some of his colleague
One of the hunters, Mr. Adeniyi Ajayi who was in the bush when the incident occurred, explained that they met the herdsmen numbering about 30 in the abandoned piggery farm within the town and when they attempted to inquire what they were doing in the farm, the herdsmen opened fire on them thus resulting in the death of Mr.Ilori.
He claimed that, “the herdsmen were kidnappers using the forest as hide out.”
During a visit to the scene, items such as knife, cutlass, dagger, and slippers were recovered.
The people protested that, time over the incident, called on government to take adequate measures to eradicate the menace of herdsmen invasion.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, High chief Francis Falua and chairman of Rice Farmers in Ekiti State, Mr kolawole Rotimi explained that one pregnant woman was also allegedly killed by same herdsmen last year. Therefore, they appealed for intervention of Governor Kayode Fayemi, before the situation gets out of hands, added that the herdsmen have been attacking farmers and feed cattle with their farm produce.
The police Public Relations Officer in Ekiti State then, Caleb Ikechukwu who confirmed the incident said a man-haunt has been launched to arrest the perpetrators.
Rather than the situation to alleviate, it aggravated as this Community again recently, alerted the general public over alleged invasion of their lands, still by these same suspected herdsmen. They cried that the herdsmen erected a red flag on the land, depicting the area as a dangerous zone to both residents and indigenes of Orin-Ekiti.
Youths in the community, old men and women made another peaceful protest and expressed worries that the suspected herdsmen had destroyed crops worth over N50 million in farms belonging to 70 farmers
They alleged that even the Benue farmers farming in the town have been chased away by these herdsmen.
The protesters, who chanted derisive songs against the Invaders, paraded placards with different 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 on the issue, 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 .
“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 government has not been doing something. Several hectares of land had been destroyed. They used to operate at night with AK 47 rifle.
“Over 70 farmers were affected in our record. Crops worth 50 million have been ravaged . They ate up their products like Cocoa yam , yam, cassava and others and made them to incur debts.
“We appeal to government to use the 2500 acres of land 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 invest “A youth leader, Mr. Omotoso Mathew Kayode, alleged 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.
“We used to do night guard to ward off 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. Governor Kayode Fayemi must relocate them. From our findings, they used to enter into this place from neighbouring towns like Isan, Ayede, and Ido and we are suspecting conspiracy .There may be famine in the land with the way things are going . “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”.
Omotoso appealed to Fayemi to compensate the farmers, for them not to abandon farming Outrightly. The Oniwaro of Orin, Chief Mathew Oke, urged Fayemi to fulfill his promise of building a police station in the town and revive the farm settlement to debar herdsmen from forcefully taking over the lands belonging to the Community.