Wednesday, 24 July 2019

A’Ibom Community Protest Invasion of Their Lands by Herdsmen, Issues Quit Notice (Photos)

... Wants full compensation for destroyed crops 

By Ogochukwu Isioma

UYO - Members of Ikono Community in Ikot-Ekpene Area of Akwa Ibom State, have protested alleged invasion of their farmlands and destruction of crops by Fulani Herdsmen in the locality.

Igbere TV reports that the residents are demanding an end to open grazing in their community over destruction of their crops by the cattle. 

A peaceful demonstration was held on Monday, which saw the protesters march down to the Palace of the Paramount Ruler, the Ikono Police Division, and Council Secretariat.

Our correspondent reports that an emergency security meeting was called at the instance of the Council Chairman, Hon. Itoro Colomba. The meeting saw representatives of the Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, NSCDC, and Department of State Services, DSS, in attendance. 

Others were the Council Vice Chairman, Prince Etokobong, Secretary to Council, Obonganwan-Ofon Michael Akpan, Village Head, Nung-Ukim Ikiot Etefia, the Youth Leader, and Village Council Secretary. 

Chairman of the Hausa Community in Ikono, was represented by the Secretary, Ahmed Aliyu, while one Mr. Ibrahim from the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Ikono, was also in attendance.

During the course of the meeting, our correspondent who monitored the progress, reports that owners of the [destroyed] farmlands were allowed to air their grievances. 

They alleged that Ibrahim is the mastermind of the whole thing, having been in charge of registration of Cattle breeders in the locality, an allegation Ibrahim denied. 

They, however, insisted on been compensated for their destroyed properties, while reminding MACBAN on how they were fully compensated by the villagers for their rustled cows in the past. 

On his part, the representative of the Hausa Community, Ahmed Aliyu, said Ibrahim from MACBAN should be made to pay for the compensation of the destroyed properties, and not the Community of Hausa's.

"I see no reason why Ibrahim should deny the allegation, he is fully in charge of this area. He registers those coming in with their cattle, he gives out grazing routes, supplies them their food, provide them their drugs (when sick), including their shelter. 

"This whole issue started in 2017, it also repeated in 2018. We kept quiet then when our farmlands were invaded and crops destroyed by their cattle coupled with allegations of rape, but we won't (keep quiet) anymore.

"(This time) our farmlands were completely destroyed, you won't believe any crop was planted there before. This is what we do, farming is our major source of income. We don't have other means of survival", laments one of the affected farmers.

Asked what their demands were, she said the farmers are insisting on full compensation for their properties, adding that they have also resolved they do not want cattle on their lands anymore.

"We the people of this community paid heavily last time when Ibrahim alleged that his cattle was rustled by indigenous farmers. We had to task ourselves and cough out the money (sic). We expected MACBAN to do same, I see no reason why they would not want to take responsibility for their actions."

There was momentary apprehension  during the meeting when the representative of the Hausa-Fulani community, Ibrahim stormed the venue wielding a machete, which was immediately confiscated by the police.

Contacted, Secretary to Ikono Council, Mrs Obonganwan-Ofon Michael Akpan, said the Chairman, Hon. Itoro Colomba, had stepped into the matter. 

She also revealed that the case is now before the Area Command, adding that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), was interested in the case.