A farmer in the Ibaayin village, Elekuru-Olorisaoko axis of the Akinyele Local Government Area of Oyo State, Mrs Olajumoke Awosika, has narrated how herdsmen terrorised farmers in the area.
In an exclusive interview with The PUNCH, the farmer said it was ironical that Yoruba landowners in the village sold over 200 acres to a Fulani herder who, alongside his battalion, have unleashed unimaginable terror and horror on farmers in the area within the last few months since the beginning of the activism of popular Yoruba rights campaigner, Sunday Adeyemo also known as Sunday Igboho.
The 57-year-old caterer, who returned to Nigeria from the United States in 2010, said she started organic farming five years ago after she couldn’t get some fresh farm produce in the market for her catering business.
Awosika said she invested millions of naira on tens of acres in Ibaayin where she planted palm, turmeric, ginger, cassava, pepper, tomatoes, plantain, amongst others.
Speaking with The PUNCH, the US returnee lamented that the criminal activities of herdsmen have disrupted farming operations in the rustic village.
She said, “The first day they (herders) entered, they destroyed farms. This was on February 10, 2021. As soon as they (herdsmen) entered, they went into people’s farm, harvested their plantains for their cows and uprooted cassava on their farms. Those are farms around me. These are old men, people in their 60s, 70s and the herdsmen destroyed on a massive scale. They ate the crops, marched their cows to the two main rivers in the village, very clear and clean water that the villagers drink, the herders destroyed the water completely; their cows defecated and polluted the water.”
Awosika said the villagers had a meeting and traced the tracks of the cows and discovered that they were owned by a Fulani herder who owns over 200 acres of land in the village.
She said the villagers told the herder to ranch his cows on his expansive land but he would rather prefer the cattle to enter other people’s farmlands to graze.
“Some villagers around us sold this Fulani man 200 acres. They know he is a cow herder yet they sold the land to him. With 200 acres, can you tell me there is nothing for those cows to eat? But they have to come outside to destroy people’s farms, of course, it was just sheer wickedness,” she said.
The US returnee said the matter was reported to security agencies like the Nigeria Police Force and the Amotekun Corps in Oyo State but the herders only grew brazen and cruel in their unlawful activities which have led to the death of scores of farmers in the rustic agrarian village.