My experience has been extremely bad. I have suffered untold and monumental losses to the destructive activities of herdsmen. Two hectares out of the hectares of cocoa that I experimented with, at the confluence of the river at each edge of my farm, was completely burnt when the trees had fruits growing on them. This is the same cocoa farm that former Governor Segun Oni of Ekiti State visited when he was in office in company with Captain Olubolade, a former Minister of Police Affairs, who was also a former Governor of Bayelsa State. They came to check if they could get the species to be planted in other areas.
At the prime of harvesting the cocoa, they (herdsmen) burnt the farm. That was sometime in 2009. The case stretched for three years. A man who saw them when they were entering the farm alerted me when he saw fire at the farm. He had warned the Fulani man, ‘Admiral’s property was being destroyed yearly. Do not go into the farm’. The Fulani man ignored him and went into the farm. It was when he saw the fire raging in the farm that he raised the alarm. Some people raced there but they did not inform me until Monday when I went to the farm and honestly, I could not go to that place for three good months. I still have the pictures of the cocoa trees when they were full of fruits. Cashew trees and palm trees that were just growing were also burnt. Today, if you go there, you will find about five surviving ones that have been bearing fruits in the last six years. In all these, they would beg, I would leave them. By my position, I just feel that with other things they are doing all over the place, I should not escalate the tension in the country. But with the one they did now (this January), for the first time, I went public. Let the public know precisely what I have been suffering in their hands in the last 10 years. I have all the pictures documented.
Can you describe the last incident?
They burnt 45 hectares of my 500 hectares of land. Right in the main farm, about 2,000 fruit-bearing orange trees were burnt. The cassava that I was supposed to use for garri because we process garri in my farm, which was due for harvesting this year, out of 50 hectares of cassava in my farm, we did not harvest a single tuber. I carried the Divisional Police Officer in my area, Mr. Aliu Umar, along in all these incidents. He is aware because we visited the farm together. The Seriki Fulani of my Local Government Area is also a witness to this. I learnt that they were threatening his life.
What did you do to make them stop burning and destroying your farms?
Some people told me that herdsmen would not listen to entreaties until I arrested their cows. That was why I tried by all means to find a way of arresting their cows, which I did. For two good months, I seized their cows which they eventually came and took by force. But because I do not want any life to be lost, I removed my security after the governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, had come in. After they removed their cows from where I kept them, they took them back by force to the camp that I had already identified before their coming. The local vigilantes that followed us when we were arresting the cows are the same ones that I asked to follow the Fulani herdsmen and they traced the route back to the same camp that we had already identified. Immediately they did that, they dismantled the camp. That is the same camp that they have returned to now.
Are there other destructions you have suffered?
On Christmas Day two years ago, they also burnt my farm. I was on my farm quenching fire that day. Last year, they did the same thing. The case is in court and nothing is being done. It has been a recurring event.
What about legal redress?
There is even a very disgusting one. Being a law-abiding citizen, I was charged with criminal trespass on my farm. They went to the magistrate court in Omu-Aran, Kwara State and I have been standing trial since 2016. Do you know what they were telling me when they were about to conclude the case? When they knew that the case was about to be concluded and they knew that they were not making any headway with the case, they said the magistrate was being transferred; so, a new magistrate would have to start the case again. But I said no, wherever they transferred the woman, she must complete the case. They then realised that they could not do anything with that case. They had thought that they would transfer the woman and bring another magistrate who would be a man and they said they would start the case again.
What led to the magistrate’s court case?
I sent my orderly to the farm and they said he shot a cow and other cows ran away. For two years, we have been in court.
Who are those behind the herdsmen?
One thing is sure from my experience. The owners of the cows are outside Kwara State. In one of the destructions, when I seized their cows, they went to General Kasali Akande, an indigene of Offa town who resides in Minna, Niger State. We arrested and remanded a cattle rearer, Mohammed Buba, who is of no consequence because the owner of the cattle he is managing is in Zamfara State. His name is Alhaji Shehu Nasarawa. But Buba has been arrested and he is being remanded. I said that is injustice. How do you remand a boy that is of no consequence when the boy had already told you that the owner of the cows is in Zamfara State? He gave the number of his employer and I said the police should invite the man who owns the cows and they were telling me that it would be difficult. What is difficult in that? The police can arrest anybody wherever he or she lives in Nigeria? If they use their property to destroy the property of another person, what is difficult in going to arrest him or calling him to question?
Are they highly placed persons?
One of the owners of the cows, who is based in Minna, was part of the emissary of the governor of Kwara State when he came to the farm. In fact, when we were going round the farm, he was aloof. He was not interested in what happened on my farm. All he was interested in was how to get his cattle. When they were threatening that they would use force to rescue their cows, I called General Akande to warn that if any life was lost, it would be on him. Akande told me that he did not send anybody to destroy another person’s farms.
Are you satisfied with the response of the Federal Government to all these herdsmen killings and destruction of farmland?
I have not seen the effort being taken to address it because from my experience, I have been suffering these losses in the last 10 years and I have records of annual damage. They are well documented.
What should the Federal Government do to address the menace?
Many people have been talking of establishing ranches where you can restrict the movement of the cow. The people who have cows are doing business and the people who are farming are doing business. They are using their cow business to destroy the business of farmers. Cows will eat grass and crops and you want to put them together? It is not possible. The people who are rearing the cows are people of no consequence, who will smoke hemp and cigarette and drop them on the farms. In dry season, stubs of cigarette are enough to set fire to the farm. When they take their cows to one’s farm, smoking hemp and cigarette and dropping the stubs on the farms, they can ignite fire on the farms.
If the herdsmen are not afraid to invade the farm of a former Chief of Naval Staff, what happens to others?
The ordinary Nigerian farmers have refused to go to farm anymore; that is the truth. In their presence, they would pull their cassava and cut if for their cows. There are occasions that they cut people in the farm with cutlasses. Even the Oba of Obbo-Ile, Oba Rufus Akamogun, came crying to me that all the yams he had had been removed and cut for cattle as food. Many farmers do not go to farm any more. That is why I said that the campaign that people should go to farm looks like hypocrisy because people who planted this year and would not harvest anything, would they go next year to plant? The 50 hectares of cassava that I planted last year, which I wanted to use for garri, were destroyed by the cows. After burning it, they still went back to eat whatever that started to grow there. The ones that I planted, which are about six months old, had already been eaten up. If you continue with what they are doing, it means that when the rainy season comes, you will only see the sticks. THINK YOUR FRIEND WOULD BE INTRESTED? SHARE THIS STORY USING ANY OF THE SHARE BUTTON BELOW ⬇ PLACE YOUR TEXT ADVERT BELOW:>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> ( FREE ) secret Fruits that Increased My Manhood size and Lasting Power in 7-days... CLICK HERE TO GET IT