By Victor Ogunje
As clashes between herders and farmers continue to fester in Ondo and Oyo States, maize farm worth N10 million belonging to members of the Maize Growers Processing Marketer Association of Nigeria (MAGPAMAN) has been destroyed by suspected herdsmen in Ekiti State.
According to the owners of the farm, the farm spanning over 235 hectares of land is located inside the state forest reserve in Aduloju on the Ado-Ijan road in Ado Local Government Area of the state.
Speaking with journalists yesterday in Ado-Ekiti, the state Secretary of the association, Mr. Tope Emmanuel, said the herders have been terrorising the farmers in the last one week leading to the destruction of the maize farm.
Emmanuel alleged that the herdsmen stormed the farm at night with dangerous weapons to feed their cows, and “all efforts to stop them were rebuffed.”
He disclosed that members obtained N6.6 million loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under the anchor borrowers’ programme in September 2020 to cultivate the maize, adding that the 160 members had been left with nothing to cultivate.
According to Emmanuel, “Last year, we approached the CBN as a group to obtain a loan worth N6.6 million for the maize farm, and we planted the maize covering 235 hectares of land the farm. In actual fact, the expected proceed is over N10millon.
“But unfortunately, when we were preparing for cultivation, the herdsmen came and destroyed everything in the farm with nothing for us again. Those herders always go there at the night with dangerous weapons in last few days and nobody could challenge them because of the arms they are carry. We can’t go to the farm now.”
He pleaded with the state government and other stakeholders to come to their rescue, and save them from the hands of the deadly herdsmen in order to recoup their investment.
“The government is always encouraging us to return to farm, so we approach bank for loan hoping to pay back after cultivation, but there’s nothing to cultivate now as these herders have destroyed everything in the farm.
“We are begging the state government to save us, as the members of the association are really in difficult situation now in view of the loan, and you cannot predict what might follow if nothing is done,” the farm leader said.
Emmanuel said the police and the Amotekun Corps had been briefed on the incident, but expressed regret that nothing was forthcoming from the security agents.
When contacted, the Ekiti State Amotekun Corps Commander, Brig-Gen Joe Komolafe (rtd), confirmed the incident, adding: “We are handling the situation.”