The farmers in Ekiti State have accused traditional rulers of aiding the attacks of herdsmen in various parts of the state.
The farmers, under the banner of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), also said the kidnappings and killings rocking the state may lead to famine and adversely affect the state and nation’s economy.
The chairman of the association, Adeniran Alagbada, disclosed this on Tuesday during a ‘Statewide Security Conference’ organised by the Ekiti Council of Elders.
He said criminal herders are already taking refuge in the unutilised expanse of land in the government reserves to launch an attack on farmers and wreak havoc on the farmlands.
“Some traditional institutions and political are contributing to the menace of insecurity against farmers and residents in the South-West by allocating lands to the herders and buying cows for them to herd.
“The resultant effect is that they (herders) remain permanent on our land, thereby posing threat to the crop farmers and our crops.”
He also stressed that government reserves should be allocated to farmers because most “unutilised vast of lands tagged government reserved lands contribute to the security risk facing Ekiti farmers and their inhabitants.
“These vast of land, (which is) supposed to be allocated to intending farmers for agricultural purposes, now serves as hideouts for hemp planters, dens of killer herders, and subterfuge for all sorts of heinous criminals, such as kidnappers and bandits terrorising the state.
“With all the foregoing, an average Ekiti farmer is exposed to the risk of being murdered, raped or kidnapped by gunmen in the course of providing food security for all and guaranteeing national security,” he said.
It is not clear as of the time of filing this report whether Governor Kayode Fayemi would allocate Ekiti forest reserves to farmers for the cultivation of crops as advised by the association.
His spokesperson, Yinka Oyebode, did not respond to calls and text messages when contacted on the concerns of the state’s farmers.
The chairman of the Ekiti Council of Traditional Rulers, Adebanji Alabi, did not immediately respond to requests for comments on the farmers’ claims against the monarchs. Phone calls and a text message have not been responded to as of the time of filing this report.
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It would be recalled that Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State in January, evicted herders from his state forest reserves following a high rate of insecurity.
This triggered controversy, but Mr Akeredolu maintained that the primary responsibility of the government is to ensure the security and welfare of citizens.
To forestall the crisis between farmers and herders across various parts of Nigeria, the 17 southern governors on May 11 resolved to ban open grazing of cattle in their states.
The governors said the incursion of armed herders, criminals, and bandits into the Southern part of the country has presented a severe security challenge such that citizens are unable to live their normal lives.