The Agro Rangers unit of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) is helping to curtail rise in cattle rustling, communal clashes and farmers/herders conflicts in states across the country, officials of the Corps said.
It was gathered that the programme which commenced with about 3000 trained officers nationwide, is operational in Benue, Taraba, Borno, Ekiti and other states.
While officials in Ekiti said about 15 cases involving herdsmen and farmers had been settled, the unit in Taraba State is helping to minimise communal clashes.
The head of Agro Rangers at Taraba State command of the NSCDC, Ruben Kadakali, told LEADERSHIP Friday in Jalingo that the Agro Rangers started its operations in the state in 2019.
He said the operation was launched in 2019 in presence of state government officials, the Miyeti Allah and various farmers associations.
“We have about 500 personnel in the state, they are currently combating communal clashes at different places in the state,” he said.
He said the state government was yet to engage the services of the rangers in farm protection and other activities.
In Borno State, the state commandant of the NSCDC, Ibrahim Abdullahi, said the command had provided protection for over 2,500 farmers to return to their farmlands in the past three years.
Abdullahi said about 200 combined squads consisting of NSCDC personnel, Civilian Joint Task Force and hunters were deployed to farmlands to protect farmers against insurgents.
“In 2017, when the insurgents persistently attacked farmers, only 155 of them cultivated their farmlands in Maiduguri. In 2018, 270 farmers went to farm while in 2019, about 2500 returned to their farmlands due to improved security,” he said.
The commandant said farming activities had in fully bounced back last year in Njimtilo, Molai, Muna, Dalori, Jere, and Gubio axis including Maiduguri and environs.
“Presently, surveys conducted by men of the command revealed that about 250 farmers returned to their farmlands in Njimtilo, 730 in Molai, 300 of them in Dalori ,150 in Muna, while 400 of them went to farm in Gubio axis,” he said.
Abdullahi said the squad had intensified their response to check clashes between herders and farmers in the state.
“Through the intervention of the command, many conflicts were prevented while rustled livestock belonging to herdsmen were recovered from criminal elements,” he said.
He noted that the command requires more sophisticated gadgets and weapons to ensure maximum protection for farmers in their farmlands.
Borno had recorded over 300 deaths of farmers including the recent killing of 48 Zabarmari rice farmers in their farmlands in Jere local government area.
In Ekiti State, about 300 personnel of the unit were among the 3000 Agro Rangers specially trained to protect farmers and mediate in conflicts.
The NSCDC spokesman in the state, Mr Tolu Afolabi who spoke to LEADERSHIP in Ado Ekiti said, “Our agro rangers unit has robust synergy with the state government established anti grazing marshals. We make arrests, prosecute and settle conflicts together. The joint effort has produced fruitful result as matters that ordinarily
would have degenerated into community clashes have been averted.
“The operations in Ekiti State have been challenging in the last one year. As we know, Ekiti is a transit state and herders always destroy farmlands, products and attack farm owners.”
Afolabi said the unit had been able to solve over 15 cases involving farmers, land owners, herders and youths in the state in the last one year.
A yam farmer, Mr Ariyo Adeolu, said the destruction of farmlands by herders and clashes between farmers and herders had reduced drastically in his area.
In Benue state, though there are pockets of attacks, the inauguration of the ranger in addition to other security agencies has helped in bringing relative calm.
Governor Samuel Ortom on February 4, 2020 officially commissioned the rangers for deployment to crisis prone areas.
Since their inauguration there has been relative peace in the state, and the governor at different fora has commended them alongside the Operation Whirl Stroke for the peace being enjoyed in the state.
During the inauguration in Makurdi, Ortom commended the NSCDC personnel for their resilience and doggedness in ensuring that peace and tranquillity returns.
To boost the morale of the officers of the rangers, the governor also announced the donation of four Hilux vans and motorcycles to ease their operations and pledged to repair all their broken down vans to enhance their performance.