Olufemi Atoyebi, Success Nwogu, Leke Baiyewu, Peter Dada, John Charles and Justin Tyopuusu
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 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.
“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.
South, middle belt insist on restructuring
During the condolence visit, the South and Middle Belt leaders insisted on the restructuring of Nigeria.
The leaders also advocated the change of the constitution to give room for a constitution of true federalism.
The leaders called on other state governors to enact their own anti-open grazing laws.
Adebanjo, who also spoke on behalf of the pan-Yoruba organisation, Afenifere, described President Buhari as “a dictator, tyrant and autocrat.”
He urged Nigerians to reject any election until the country was restructured.
The Afenifere leader said the best constitution for the country was the 1954 constitution.
He said, “The true constitution that could have helped the country was the 1954 constitution which gave us true federalism but it was rejected, what we have now is the constitution imposed on us by the military.
“The present constitution has given too much power to the President which makes him the most powerful leader in the world. We should not go to election without restructuring so that we can have true democracy where justice reigns.”
Adebanjo who lamented the killings in the state slammed president Buhari and the All Progressives Congress government for not checking the herdsmen.
He said, “If Buhari and the APC are interested in keeping this country together, they must resolve the herdsmen issue. And to Benue people; you are too educated, too civilized and mature for people who do not know how to read and write to intimidate you in your own land. No one should dominate another.
“How can Buhari say you must accommodate your fellow even when your fellow is killing you?
“We must join hand to fight for the freedom of the south and the middle belt; we must change this constitution that makes us a prey.”
Also, the leader of Ohanaeze, Chief John Nwodo, lamented that Benue was being used as a case of new aggression.
He also stated that the best way to get out of the injustice being meted out to other parts of the country was to restructure Nigeria.
Nwodo said, “The problem is that since the military took over and handed over a forced constitution on us, Nigeria has remained divided, whereas there was growth under regional government.
“Restructuring is imperative and if we continue like this, Nigeria will die in seven years.”
A South-South leader, Air Commodore Tony Inyang, also lent his voice to the restructuring of the country.
He said, “If the governor has the full control of the security, he will be able to deploy such when he gets intelligence report and this will avert any crisis.
“There must be Nigeria, but a Nigeria with justice and fair play.”
Dr. Bala Shagaya, who led the Middle Belt Forum, urged the Benue people not to allow foreigners take over their land.
A former governor of the old Anambra State, Chief Emeka Ezeife, applauded the anti-open grazing law and advised other governors to enact their own.
Others in the delegation are a former governor of Ebonyi state, Sam Egwu; a former governor of Ondo State, Chief Olusegun Mimiko; Senator Chris Anyanwu, Banji Akintoye and Afenifere’s spokesman, Yinka Odumakin.
Ortom who threw his weight behind restructuring, said, “I have joined in the restructuring debate following the pains we have passed through and the conspiracy by some people to kill our people.”
No land for cattle colonies –Taraba govt
The Taraba State Government on Wednesday said the state had no land for cattle colonies.
The state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Yusufu Akirikwen, stated this in an exclusive interview with The PUNCH in Jalingo.
Akirikwen said the state government had enacted a law for the establishment of ranches and called on the Federal Government to support the implementation of the law, which is billed to take effect from January 24, 2018.
He said, “The truth of the matter is that the idea of cattle colony is still not very clear to most Nigerians. What is a cattle colony? We have been colonised by the colonial masters and now we will be colonised by cows?
“Where will the Federal Government get the land for cattle colonies? Would it sit there in Abuja and acquire land across the states of federation for cattle colonies?
“We have enacted a law for ranching here in Taraba, but we are not acquiring land for people. People are going to buy land to ranch their animals. Just like farmers buy land to do their farming business,” he said
No to cattle colony in Ondo –CAN
The Ondo State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria has appealed to the state Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, not to accept the cattle colony being proposed by the Federal Government in the state.
The Christian body alleged that the state governors were being coerced to accept establishment of grazing reserves in their states despite criticisms against the proposal.
The Chairman of CAN in Ondo State, Rev. Ayo Oladapo, stated this on Wednesday in Akure, at a prayer summit organised to round off the 2018 Universal Week of Prayers.
He said, “It will not see the light of the day; the Lord will fight for us. In Ondo State, we pray this will never happen.
“We pray God will give our government the boldness to say no to this and to defend the people of the state from the hands of the oppressors.
“Most of our state governments are lame and helpless in this situation. They are being coerced to accept grazing colonies in their states.”
Oladapo berated the Federal Government for not deeming it fit to fly the nation’s flag at half mast to mourn the over 73 innocent lives that were cut short by herdsmen while “all that are being done are recommendations that are inimical to the wellbeing of the people.”
In his remarks, a cleric at the Word Communication Ministries, Ibadan, Pastor Sunday Popoola, said the church of God condemned the killing and the sinful silence of the people in authority.
He said, “The head of the nation is the father of everyone and he should defend everyone.”
Senate holds two-day summit on killings
The Senate on Wednesday continued with the debate on the killings by herdsmen and other armed groups across Nigeria.
The lawmakers reached a resolution to conduct a national summit on the killings on Wednesday and Thursday next week.
The resolution followed the adoption of a motion moved by the lawmaker representing Taraba South Senatorial District, Senator Shuaibu Lau, on the kidnapping and suspected killing of a member of Taraba State House of Assembly, Hosea Ibi.
Ibi, who was representing Takum I Constituency, was abducted by unknown gunmen for two weeks and was found dead on Tuesday.
Seconding the motion, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, lamented the high crime rate in the country which he said had led to a continuous loss of lives.
While accusing the Federal Government of being indifferent to the killings, he alleged that the Executive arm of government had left its duties to the legislature.
Murray-Bruce said, “It is time the Federal Government of Nigeria acted because they have been voted into office and they have an executive function to protect the lives and property of Nigerians.”
“There must be consequence for bad behaviour. You are either in control or you are not. The ministers in charge should resign. Nigerians involved should be fired or resign, otherwise they should be removed. For Nigerians to be killed like cattle, it is not acceptable.
“The Minister of Defence should tell us what he is doing. If the cabinet is incompetent, then we should fire them.”
In his submission, Senator Isa Misau, alleged that the Buhari administration was biased in its anti-corruption war, while accusing the Nigeria Police of nepotism.
Misau criticised the appointment of Ahmed Rufai Abubakar as the substantive Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency.
Abubakar is a retired career Foreign Service Officer, who till his appointment served as Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs/International Relations.
Also contributing, Senator Kabiru Marafa decried the spate of insecurity in Zamfara State, saying that a militia group was taking over the roles of traditional rulers and security agencies in his constituency.
He said, “Zamfara State is now under the control of the militia.”
The Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, said the new strategy adopted by fleeing Boko Haram insurgents was to attack communities under the guise of herdsmen.
Saraki, in his remarks, noted that an urgent solution was needed to address the spate of insecurity in the country.
We’ll resist cattle colonies in Yorubaland –OPC faction
The National President of the Oodua Peoples’ Congress, New Era, Razak Arogundade, on Wednesday said the group would resist the plan by the Federal Government to establish a cattle colony in any part of Yorubaland.
While faulting the plan as a system designed to rob the South-West of its land in favour of the Fulani herdsmen, Arogundade also condemned what he described as the government inability to curtail the excesses of the herdsmen whose killing of innocent people had continued unchecked.
He said, “We will not accept any plan by the Federal Government of Nigeria to establish a cattle colony in any Yoruba speaking state. The way and manner the Fulani herdsmen are killing innocent people is appalling. That is why we can never allow such barbarians to have their way through cattle colonies in the South-West.”
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