By Yetunde Ogunmola
In order to stem the unruly activities of herders, the Ondo State Government through Amotekun corps today declared that it would henceforth auction any cow seized for destroying farms in any parts of the state.
It said it would no longer give room for negotiation with farmers for compensation when herders destroy their crops through illegal grazing.
Ondo State Commander of the State Security Network known as the Amotekun Corps, Chief Adetunji Adeyeye, stated these while signing agreement for the release of 250 cows.
He said owners of seized cows would be prosecuted and the cows sold off.
Chief Adeyeye said the 250 cows were seized after farmers at Ipogun, Ilara, Owena Dam axis in Ifedore Local Government cried about their destroyed crops.
Adeyeye stated the cows destroyed over 300 hectares of farmland with crops such as cassava, maize, Cocoyam and yam.
He said it was painful the herders harvested the cassava, cocoyam and yam tubers to feed their cows as well as ate some themselves.
According to him: “I was amazed when I saw the level of destruction and stealing that they did in this current case.
“When we got to the farm, the herders started by attacking us. Later they ran away but we succeeded in arresting two of them. They are in our custody. We also arrested over 250 cows, which we brought to our premises here.
“But to trek for 30 to 40 kilometres every time is not a joke. Not only that we have to trek for this long distance, we have to guide the cows and control traffic on the expressway while leading the cows. So it is not a small job at all.
“Amotekun will no longer allow settlement of farmers henceforth because it appears that it is not working
“We will henceforth charge them to court and auction the cow. That is the position of the State Government and the Amotekun Corps as from now.
“Any herder that destroys farmland and crops now, we are not going to open the window of opportunity for negotiation for payment of compensation.
“They would be arrested, the herders would be prosecuted, the cows would become the government property and would be auctioned because the window of love we showed them, they are not reciprocating by complying with agreement reached with the farmers.
“We felt that herders are transacting their business, which they have right to as a Nigerian. Farmers are equally transacting their business, a lot of them invested heavily on the farms.
“Many of the farmers have died of stroke and hypertension and a lot of them have lost their property because they cannot service the loan they took and invested in the farm.
“All these affect the socio economic growth of the South West especially Ondo State, we are not going to tolerate this again.
“Collecting money and giving to farmers does not pay. The money paid to farmers as compensation is not up to one per cent of the crops destroyed,” Adeleye said.
Ondo chairman of the Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) Alhaji Garba Bello, signed for the herders while Mr Odeyemi Joseph and three others signed for the farmers.
Odeyemi said the agreement was for the herdsmen to remove their cows and never to return to the area