Ogun: Abiodun's Novel Approach To Ensuring Smooth Farmers - Herders Relations In 2020 - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE



Sunday, December 22, 2019

Ogun: Abiodun's Novel Approach To Ensuring Smooth Farmers - Herders Relations In 2020


From Babalola Gafar

Governor Dapo Abiodun - led Ogun State Government has expressed its readiness to establish a joint Task Force that would provide security to farmers and their farm crops against violent herdsmen and ensure all round peace in the state.

The Joint Task Force would complement existing security agencies not only to ensuring peace and make the farmers to be productive and successful, but also extending same to law abiding herdsmen.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture, Dr. Adeola Odedina, disclosed this at the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN)/Miyetti Allah Peace/Conflict Resolution Committee on Cattle menace in Ogun.

During the meeting at the Conference Hall of the Ministry of Agriculture, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, Odedina revealed that among the steps being taken to bring about end to the herders - farmers conflicts was the need to resuscitate a peace committee, which would be replicated in all the Local Government Areas of the State.

He assured that any form of criminality would be investigated and executed by the task-force while farmers would also be encouraged to report any form of security threat to the appropriate authorities.

This measure by the state government becomes necessary as the dry season finally sets in; when herders and their cattle would be migrating in large number from one point to another within farmlands and forests in the state in search of forages with the attendant clashes and grave risk to lives and farm crops.

Some of the herdsmen are often armed with weapons, including some sophisticated arms, perhaps because of the new trends in cattle rustling and animal trafficking across the Ogun border communities and Nigeria's neighbouring Republic of Benin.
Clashes between farmers and nomadic herdsmen usually rise in the number. The frequency and intensity of attacks also tend to double during the dry season, making it an increasingly a major source of concern to farmers, herders, the state government, indigenes and residents of the Gateway State at this time of the year.

Limited access to land and water, grazing paths, drought and ethnicity all contribute to the clashes. Conflicts often happen when cattle stray into farmland and destroy farm products and when it does happen as witnessed in the past, Ogun farmers are always on the losing side. 

The Daily Crucible recalls  that suspected
herdsmen reportedly killed 24 villagers, in tojured scores and ravaged farm crops worth millions of naira in several attacks on 13 communities in Ogun State between 2000 and December 2017.

The affected victims which included husband and wife, were said to be indigenes of 13 communities of Asa, Agbon – Ojodu, Igbonla, Korole, Ibeku, Moro, Koomi, Ibore, Igan – Alade, Kodera, Owode – Ketu, Adesina Village and Orisade – all in Ketu Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of Ogun State.

The claim was contained in letters dated December 20, 2017, written by Michael Abiose and Williams Olayode of the Ketu Advancement Forum (KAF) and Ketu Community Development Council (KCDC) and addressed to the Commissioner of Police in Ogun state,  at the time,  on behalf of the affected communities.

In the said letters, KAF and KCDC, urged the police commissioner to ensure speedy and diligent investigation and prosecution of suspected herdsmen and put measures in place to prevent such inceasant attacks and killings from reoccurring.

The groups also listed those allegedly killed by suspected herdsmen between 2000 and 2017  to include  Adegbola Ajibiaran (Agbon-Ojodu, 2000), Ayinde Korole Korole(2002), Mr. Soji Aretola(2004), Mr. Oga Aja  (Asa, 2006), Mrs. Oga Ruth (Asa, 2006), Prophet Orisade (Igbonla, 2006), Mr. Adewale Adekunle (Asa, 2006), Mr Dele Akintan (Ibeku, 2006) Mr. Joseph Oga (Igbonla, 2007), Mr. Moses Oga (Igbonla(2007), Mr. Ajana Ogunlana (Moro, 2007) and Mr. Abisekan Femi (Koomi, 2008).

Others are Mr. Femi Oladokun (Koomi, 2008), Mr. Sunday Idosu (Asa , 2008), Mr. Gbenga Durosinmi (Iboro, 2008), Mr. Yomi Akinola (Igan-Alade, 2011), Mr. Ogunjobi Dotun(Kodera, 2011), Mr. Ogunyomi Ige ( Igan-Alade, 2011), Mr. Phillip Akan-an (Owode-Ketu, 2011), Mr. Amosun Olofinjin(Ogbon-Ojodu, 2012), Mr. Akinola Dayo Tunde(Agbon Ojodu, 2012) Mrs. Semitan Agbaosi (Adesina Village, 2013) Mr. Opeita Ayo (Agbon Ojodu, 2017) and  Mr. Olatunji Tangu Afolabi (Orisada, December 19, 2017).

Since December 2017 till December 2019, more farmers have been killed in Ogun state by suspected  herdsmen. 

Earlier in July this year,  the peace of the largely sequestered  Adao village of less than 100 households  in Odeda Local Government Area of the State was rudely ruptured by suspected herdsmen whose cattle grazed on the cassava and pepper farm of one  Rafiu Sowemimo, where the animals gorged themselves with farm crops, even  trampling down anything standing as they foraged in and out of the relatively vast farm.

The Daily Crucible learnt that the grazing on Rafiu's farm land and that of his kinsmen of Adao village was routine and when Rafiu confronted the herdsman for destroying his farm crops, he attacked Rafiu, stabbing him to death.

This December, a herdsman;  Muhammad Garba, who was grazing his cattle in the farm of one Segun Akinlade, in Imala area of Ogun State  hacked the farm owner(Segun) to death during a fight between them.

Muhammed Garba allegedly killed the 35 years farmer with cutlass when he led his herds of cattle to graze on the deceased farm, according to the Police, who have since arrested the suspect.

It is hoped that this dry season, especially in the coming new year, the state government's measure would be proactively and potently deployed to ensure an all round peace regarding farmers - herders relations in Ogun state, where there would be mutual respect for each other for sustainable peace and development.

Expectedly, the state government's agent; Odedina has called on the leaders of the farmers and herders - the AFAN Chairman, Ogun State Chapter, Prince Segun Dasaolu and 
Chairman, Miyetti Allah in the South West, Mallam Mohammed Kabir and others who were in attendance at the meeting to share information with the relevant security agencies.

This, he reckoned, would help restore peace and order, while also finding a lasting solution to the perennial problem. 

Earlier, the state government also put in place a scheme tagged: Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) which builds capacity of herdsmen on new technologies of rearing livestock without destroying farm produce as well as holding periodic stakeholders’ meetings on farmers and herders conflict to reduce tension,  educate them to improve the productivity of the livestock and earn more revenue.

Will these measures bring the desired peace and reduce or eradicate conflicts between farmers and herders in Ogun in the coming year? Only time will tell.

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