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In Agu-Ekwegbe, Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu State, there is a palpable sense of tension as a result of herders‘ invasion and destruction of farms worth more than N50 million while their cattle were grazing.
The owner of the land, John Abonyi, lamented that Fulani herders have resorted to grazing their cattle on his field.
He bemoaned that all effort made by him and his staff to stop them from invading his farm hit the rock as Nigeria Police refused to come to their rescue even when one of the herders were detained.
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Briefing journalists who went round the over three hectares of farm lands devastated by herders said that they invaded the farm he planted both maize and beans few days after he applied fertiliser on the crop.
While recounting the level of damage, said, “the major challenge we farmers is facing in South East is the issue of herdsmen invasion of our farm. As you can see here, the Fulani headers have raided this farm three times and it’s definitely harming us. The police and other security agencies were notified, but they did not come to our aid.
They arrived on my farm on Thursday to graze following the application of fertiliser on Monday. They destroyed everything in the farm that I planted maize and beans. I called Area command Udenu and he directed me to call the DPO, I called the DPO and he said I should come to the station. I told him that they should come to the property to observe the amount the herders ruined my farm but he insisted I must come.
‘The next thing was a call and behold he said he is the chairman of Fulani herdsmen in Nsukka. So, I requested him to come and witness what his boys did on my farm, but he replied I should come to the police station. As we are discussing what happened on Thursday, they returned on Tuesday and grazed inside my farm painfully. There is forest around here but they preferred grazing inside my farm.
‘I have suffered; I invested more than N50million here but look at what fulani herdsmen have done to me. How will I pay the loan I collected? I left the North due to the Boko Haram situation and returned home to take care of business, but look at what the Fulani herders have done to me. Where will I run to now?
“Even yesterday, they came back and met my workers who incidentally caught one of them and I called police but they insisted that I should come to the station instead of coming here to take the boy we caught. The boy was released because there was nobody to help us take him to police station,” he said.
The community’s Town Union President, Mr. Ene Uchechukwu, also spoke, lamenting the extent of the farmland’s destruction and pleading for state government intervention.
He grieved that the community who survives by farming cannot save themselves as Fulani herdsmen repeatedly invades their farms with AK-47, surround them and graze the farm with their animals.
“The herdsmen have more sophisticated weapon than the security men. You cannot do anything when they surrender you with their AK-47 gun in your farm. We are suffering in Agu-Ekwegbe because we are utilising borrowed money (loan) to farm to enable us generate some profit and take care of our wards but after farming, the herders will enter and destroy it.
We need the intervention and help from Enugu state government. Apart from destruction of farms, they also indulge in robbing and kidnapping of commuters in Agu-Ekwuegbe, ‘he appealed for help.