At least, 88 cows have been arrested in the agrarian community of Igangan in Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State after destroying 10 hectares of maize plantation. But owners of the cows were said to have run away
This was made known when commercial farmers in the community under the aegis of the Igangan Agro Park Investors Association sent Save Our Soul (SOS) message to the Oyo State Government and Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Nwachukwu Enwonwu.
The 10 hectares belonging to commercial farmers were said to have been plundered by the cows in less than one day. The cows were reportedly led to the farms on Saturday evening after workers in the farms had gone back home and the cows were grazed in the farms all through the night till Sunday morning.
The farmers appealed to the government and the police boss to find a lasting solution to the incessant invasion of their farms by some cattle herders.
The police in Igangan and the Sarkin Fulani of Igangan, Alhaji Kadir Saliu, reportedly trailed the herders to the forest when farms launched the complaints with a view to arresting the erring herders. All they could get in the forest were the cows as the herders might have run away when they discovered that they were being trailed.
As gathered, concerned stakeholders reached a consensus that the 88 cows be kept at the Sarkin Fulani’s courtyard till when their owners would be found.
The President, Igangan Agro Park Investors Association, Mr Olufemi Abioye, said: “Of course, this is not a new development; it is a loss too many. Well over 10 hectares of maize plantation, worth millions of naira, was destroyed in less than one day by 88 cows brought in by some Bororo cattle herders. It did not start just today; the agro park farmers in Oyo State continue to suffer losses as a result of the lawlessness by the herders who are bent on feeding their animals with our own plants and crops.
“In some instances, the police would get them arrested. In June last year, they came at night and their cattle destroyed several hectares of water melon. They always threaten to attack us with militia group from Mali. Some of them don’t care when you report them to the police.
“When we approached the Sarkin Fulani, he said he had no control over those who are violent because they could be very dangerous. There are 300 hectares of grassland but the herders would leave the grassland and feed their cattle with our crops. Between last December and January, we lost over N2.4million worth of crops. When they were arrested and brought to Iyaganku, they paid just N150,000. This is why they are unrepentant and threaten to do even worse.”
The Police Public Relations Officer, Oyo State Command, Olugbenga Fadeyi, whi confirmed the development, states: “The Divisional Police Officer in Igangan confirmed the incident saying that the plantation in question belongs to the state government and the commercial farmers are cultivating the land on lease agreement. The owners of the cows have yet to show up. Steps are being taken to identify the owners. Efforts are also ongoing to arrive at an amicable settlement as the police would not shark in its responsibilities.”
However, the owners of the 88 cows, as at the time of filing this report, were said to have shown up and the Sarkin Fulani of Igangan said: “I am in Ilorin, Kwara State as we speak. The 88 cows that were suspected to have destroyed the farm were kept in my custody. My children told me that the owners of the cows had shown up. The hope is that the cows would be released to them and they would meet the farmers on Wednesday to discuss about the settlement. You know it is not easy for me to keep 88 cows at my place for long.”
But Abioye has suggested that the cows should be kept with the state Agro Ranger Patrol Team in order not to scuttle the fair process of settlement to the affected farmers.