The Ondo State Government has said on Sunday that it would henceforth auction seized cows arrested for destroying farmlands after getting a court order, while the owners of the seized cows would also be prosecuted.
The State Commander of the State Security Network, Amotekun, Chief Adetunji Adeleye, who disclosed this during the signing of an agreement for the release of over 250 cows arrested by Amotekun Corps in Akure, the state capital.
According to the Commander, Amotekun has arrested over 250 cows in the state, following distress call and petitions by farmers in Ipogun, Ilara, Owena Dam axis in Ifedore Local Government Area of the state.
He said men of the Amotekun Corps had responded swiftly to the distress calls whilst the cows were seized after they discovered the level of havoc done by the herders and their cows, disclosed that, herders and their cows have destroyed over 300 hectares of farmland with crops including cassava, maize, Cocoyam and yam.
Adeleye explained that apart from eating up the leaves and stems of the plants, the herders, most times, uproot cassava, cocoyam and yam tubers to feed their cows and also take to their camps to cook.
“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, but 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.
“While doing all these, we don’t engage in any financial discussion with either the farmers or the herders. We don’t collect a kobo but we suffer a lot in bringing these cows to our premises in enforcing this law.
“When this latest incident happened, we brought them together and said unless they signed an undertaking, that after this operation, 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 from now.
“Any herder that destroyed 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 the 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 these farms.
“However, herders would come overnight and graze on these farms despite government order banning night grazing, underage herders and other illegalities.
“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.
The Chairman of the Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Alhaji Garba Bello, signed for the herders, while Mr Odeyemi Joseph and three others signed for the farmers,
Speaking at the brief event, Bello assured that the herders would keep to the agreement, while Odeyemi commended the Amotekun Corps for prompt response whenever they are called; and said the agreement would go a long way to put an end to the destruction of farms.