Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
Farmers in Ondo State who are of Ebira extraction in Kogi State have protested the alleged invasion of their farmland and attack on their members by Fulani herdsmen.
Our correspondent gathered that no fewer than 20 Ebira farmers dealing in food crops are already receiving medical treatment at various hospitals across the state as a result of the attack on them by the herdsmen.
The aggrieved farmers are operating in Elegbeka, Agogboro, Oba-Ile, Iju-Itaogbolu, Ologido, Malege and Ogbese all in Akure South and North local government areas of the state.
The farmers pleaded with Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to intervene in the incessant attacks on them and their crops by the herders.
The chairman, Ebira Farmers Association (EFA), Alhaji Amuju Ovoro said: “Fulani herders are attacking us on a regular basis. They will invade our farms with their cows and uproot our crops prematurely, causing unprecedented losses to us.
“As of today, 20 of our members are being hospitalised following an attack by Fulani herdsmen on our farms,” he added.
He stated further that “our crops are being destroyed and our water contaminated. The herdsmen will arm themselves with offensive weapons in the night with their mission of massive destruction on our farm crops and assault on us.
“They even went to the extent of raping our women. We, therefore, plead with the governor to rescue us. We are peace-lovers and have been operating in Ondo State for several decades without molestation from any quarters,” he stressed.
Also, the state president of Ebira community, Alhaji Abdulsalam Dagana who identified Ondo State as their second home, said he was born and trained with proceeds from his parents’ farm in the state.
According to him “the Fulani herdsmen are committing many atrocities against my kinsmen, Akeredolu should kindly wade into this matter before it goes out of hand.”
He said “we want peace in Ondo State: we are sojourning here for our daily bread. Ebira people are no cowards, but we don’t want to create tension in the state. The governor should intervene immediately as an advocate of peace.”
The Special Assistant to the Governor on Ebira community matters, Mr Hassan Ahete, however, pleaded with his kinsmen, urging them to remain calm.
He hinted that he had been meeting with his people, pleading for peace in spite of the recent development.
He said the Fulani herdsmen had attacked his people several times in the past, stressing that with the present situation, he would take their case to the appropriate quarters for prompt action.
Ahete assured that Akeredolu would not tolerate a breach of peace in any part of the state, adding that the governor would take swift action on the matter.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Femi Joseph said the matter had not been officially reported at the police command.
He, however, said if such an incident happened, the farmers should let the police know, stressing that offenders would be arrested and prosecuted accordingly.
The police spokesman said the command would not tolerate any act capable of disrupting the peace of the state.