Paul Osuyi, Asaba
In Ubulu-Unor community, Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta State, the fear of herdsmen is the beginning of wisdom. Crop farmers in this agrarian community are yet to get respite from the destructive activities of herders who lead their cows to graze on farms.
The farmers are pained that all their efforts in preparing land and cultivating crops are wasted each time cows invade their farms under the watchful guidance of herders.
Although there have been no record of human killings and kidnappings unlike in neighbouring communities, residents simply lack the audacity to challenge the gun-wielding herders over their destructive actions, apparently for fear of the unknown.
It was gathered that even a diplomatic approach by the leadership of the community to seek an understanding has not yielded any positive result, as the invaders continue to unleash destruction on farmlands without blinking an eye.
A resident, Churchill Okwumabua decried the menace of the herders, saying they “are very mean in using their cows to destroy crops belonging to us without any form of provocation.”
He said unless something urgent was done about the situation, no one knows what the outcome of the herders’ actions will result to.
“This is because it is becoming an act that can no longer be tolerated. There is no reason why herders will guide their cows to our farms and destroy our crops. Just as they value their cows so also we too value our farm crops.
“They are not the ones feeding us and our farm produce is the only source of our income. It is, therefore, condemnable that the herders will guide their cows to our farms, destroy our crops and without remorse even threaten you with weapons when you confront them.
“We too can carry weapons, but we want to be law abiding; that is why we are calling on all authorities concerned to come to our aid by moving these herdsmen and their cows out of our farms which they have turned to their grazing ground,” Okwumabua said.
Another farmer, Stanley Okolie emphasized that their patience in the face of continuous destruction of their farm crops is fast running out.
“In those days, they only guide the cows to feed on the grasses along the major road and they move to another community. But these days, instead of that, what they now do is to station them on farmlands that are about two kilometres away from our homes. In most cases, we will be at home while they will be in the farms destroying our crops.
“Even when you run into them, they will not apologise or care to move their cows out of your farm. In most cases, they will either threaten you with knife or even a pump action gun. Something has to be done in order to forestall an impending violence that may result. It is not everybody that can condone such,” Okolie frowned.
However, a source in the community blamed leaders for the unwholesome development, saying that some leaders of the town own cows that were being used to perpetrate the destruction of farm crops.
“I think why the herders have been succeeding is because some of our leaders in the community have cows. We learnt that these cows belong to them, hence, no definite and serious action is being taken over the issue. But our fear is that unless something urgent is done about it , someday, something serious will happen between the community people and the herdsmen,” the sourced warned.
Recently, the leader of the vigilante in the community, piqued by the wanton destruction of crops in Ubulu-Unor, made frantic effort to stop them from gaining access to the community but his effort did not yield the desired result.
The Ubulu-Unor traditional council leader, Stephen Azubuike, said a move is already being made to convene a meeting to address the herders’ issue, adding that the meeting will be soonest.
Azubuike said he was affected by the activities of the destructive agents, saying “actually, even I am equally affected by the menace of the herdsmen.”
On the issue of some of the community leaders owning cows, the palace secretary said he did not know anything about it, adding that the issue of the herders’ activities is something the community wanted to take up headlong.