A former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Samuel Afolayan, said on Wednesday that herdsmen had destroyed about 45 hectares of his 500-hectare farm. Afolayan’s cry is coming on the heels of fresh attacks by herdsmen in Benue State during which five people reportedly died. The former naval boss explained that the cattle rearers burnt about 20 hectares of orange farm, 20 hectares of cassava farm and five hectares of palm farm.
He lamented that he lost more than N200m. He spoke to journalists at Ibbo-Ile, in the Ekiti Local Government Area of Kwara State. He stated that his farmland had been under constant threat by the cattle rearers.
According to him, the herdsmen have been burning and destroying his farm for the past 10 years, adding that the losses were monumental. Conducting journalists round the latest damage on the farm, he lamented that the destruction had been a setback to his quest to contribute to food security.
The ex-Naval boss said, “It (the destruction) has become an annual routine. This will be the first time of letting people know about what has been happening in the last 10 years. The cow rearers have been damaging my crops.
“We believed that it was not deliberate when it first started. When we arrested them, they went to the local chiefs and friends to beg for them. “The people that are engaging in this act are people of low means; so when they beg I usually release them. But I discovered that these boys are being sponsored by people of means outside Kwara State.
“We recently apprehended one of them from Zamfara State. There is another one in court, who is from Niger State. So most of the damage is from the north. “No fewer than 20 hectares of orange farm, five hectares of palm trees farm and 20 hectares of cassava farm had been destroyed this year. I am not an expert, but by my estimation, the current loss is over N200m.”
“The destruction of farmland by herdsmen shows lip service of the agricultural policy of the government. Many of the local farmers around me do not come to farm again because the herdsmen, with impunity, will cut their cassava and other crops for their cows.” In Benue, five persons were killed in renewed herdsmen attacks on communities.
Sources said the killings had spread to the Okpokwu Local Government Area of the state where one person was killed on Wednesday. Governor Samuel Ortom also confirmed fresh killings in Guma and Logo, where two persons were killed in each local government area.
Ortom stated this on Wednesday while receiving the leaders of south and middle belt forums at the Government House, Makurdi. The leaders had paid him a condolence visit to commiserate with him over the killings and mass burial of 73 persons. The delegation comprised leaders from the South-West, South-East, South-South and Middle Belt; and was led by Chief Ayo Adebanjo.
Ortom said, “Two women have been killed in Guma and another two persons killed in Logo.” He stated that despite the presence of the Inspector-General Police and 663 armed mobile policemen deployed in the state, killings are still being perpetrated while the attackers had yet to be arrested.
The governor called on security agents to arrest the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore for still issuing threats to resist the implementation of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law in the state. The command spokesman, ASP Moses Yamu, said he would get back to our correspondent when contacted.