BY TOPE FAYEHUN, ONDO
T he governor of Ondo State, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu made a controversial statement that has continued to ring alarm bells to stakeholders.
Akure Farmers in Ondo State have thrown their weight behind the statement, credited to the governor on need to defend themselves and their farmlands.
The governor’s position was conveyed to farmers by his senior special assistant on Agriculture and Agro-allied In-dustries, Mr. Akin Olotu, in Akure, at a “Cassava Revolution’’ flag-off last week. Olotu, quoted the governor as say-ing there was a need for concerted efforts to protect farmers to ensure food security.
“I want to advise that our people should come together and organise vigilantes in their respective localities to pro-tect their farms and businesses.“
His suggestion that the farmers could call on Amotekun Corps, the Police, and other security agents if they ran into any difficulties, hints that he is not asking the farmers to take up arms, but to find means of protecting their land within the confines of the law.
Farmers in the state readily welcomed the statement, but should be lectured against taking the law into their hands, but instead to seek help within the confines of the law.
Speaking to farmers in Akure, this is what some of them had to say of the statement.
Adekunle Idowu tells me that most farmers are skeptical about returning to the farm for cultivation after having once survived the attack of herders.
He added that, “Most of the farmers think the self-protection disclosed by the governor through his special advis-er, is the best way to go. It may not necessarily be in a violent way.”
While Idowu believes that hiring vigilantes is not necessary, he discloses in a cryptic manner that, “The best way to protect our farms without any confrontation or violence will be to go in the traditional way of protecting our crops and farms.”
Another farmer, Mrs Folasade Bankole says the only way farmers can defend themselves, is by forming a formi-dable group to address the problem.
In his reaction, the Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Ondo State Command, Deputy Superintendent, Olufemi Omole, warned both herders and farmers against taking the law into their hands.
He advises the people to resist reprisal attacks, noting that they should always report activities of herders to the Command for appropriate action, as they have Agro Rangers fit to safeguard farmlands and mediate between farmers and herders.
The Amotekun, Chairman of Miyetti Allah, former special assistant to the state governor on Hausa/Fulani Matters, and leadership of farmers groups in the state, have signed an agreement that any herdsman caught destroying farmland would henceforth face persecution and his cows would be auctioned.
In his reaction, Chairman, Miyetti Allah, Alhaji Garba Bello, gave assurance that he would ensure directives of the state government stands.