Some residents of Ibarapa Central and North have been killing our cattle with a poisonous substance. What they normally do is to open a cassava tuber, mix it with poison and drop it on the way for our cattle to eat.
At times they will put the poisonous substance inside corn and once a cow eats it, it dies instantly. It happened three days ago in my hut here when eight of my cows suddenly collapsed. Two died instantly.
The same thing happened to the cattle belonging to my children when two cows instantly died in a village called Bogun. In fact, on that day, I had to urgently intervene to pacify my children not to take laws into their hands because they said they saw those who carried out the act.
Could it be that they dropped the poisonous item on their farms to prevent the cattle from destroying them?
No, it is not on their farms. We wouldn’t be quarrelling with anybody if it had been on their farms. We don’t move our cattle across farmlands; we are always conscious of that. We try as much as much possible to ensure that our cattle do not step on any farm in all the villages in Ibarapa North and Central but we are surprised that these people deliberately drop these items around where we graze our cattle.
So what could have prompted attacks on your cattle?
There is no reason whatsoever. You can’t go round this village and discover that our cattle destroyed any farm. It is, to me, an act of wickedness, and desperation to send the Fulani people away from Ibarapa and nothing more.
For how long have you been experiencing this problem?
It started in December 2014 and up till now, they have continued to kill our cattle.
From your estimation, how many cattle have you lost since this problem started?
I, alone, have lost more than 100. Other people have lost more than that number. From January till date, I have lost 18 cattle already, not to talk of those of my children and colleagues around here.
Did you make any attempt to reach out to members of the communities around you?
We have attended many meetings.
Who called the meetings?
The police invited us many times, as did the local governments authorities, but it has been all talk and no action. They only appealed to us, yet the attacks continue unabated. Even the Commissioner of Police in Oyo State had a meeting with us yet we have not seen any concrete action.
What of the state government?
We have written a letter to the governor who said a committee has been set up but we have not seen any committee and the attacks have not stopped. In fact, we had to boycott the Kara (cow) market in Gangan and Igbo Ora market in Ibarapa Central. The Igbo Ora market is the largest cow market in Ibarapa where people from the whole of Ibarapa and OkeOgun converge to buy and sell cows. To show that we are not happy with what is happening to us, we boycotted the market and we didn’t allow anybody to bring in cows to sell. The butchers have also joined us in this struggle.
So what is your next step as you said there has been no positive action from the relevant authorities?
We have decided that, henceforth, no cow or cattle will be allowed in the market around here. The butchers too will not be allowed to slaughter any cow. We will be having a meeting of all cattle rearers here in Gangan,and our plan is to meet some selected Divisional Police Officers and monarchs to tell them that, henceforth, we will be dumping the remains of our dead cattle in their palaces and police stations.
What other measures are you exploring to address this problem?
We have written to the Oyo State governor, the state Commissioner of Police and the Director, Department of State Service (DSS) in Oyo State but we have not heard from them.
What do you say to the farmers’ allegation that your cattle have been destroying their farms?
That is not true Let them come out and provide evidence. They should show us a particular farm destroyed our livestock.
Are they all affected these attacks?
Yes. As I told you, I have lost 18 cattle in January alone. Some of our members have lost more than that, some lost up to 20 at a go; others lost 10 in a day.
What is the monetary value, from your estimation, of these losses?
In January alone, we lost more than N6million worth of cattle.
Could it be that some of your members are the ones causing problem around here?
Not at all. We are very peaceful, we are law-abiding citizens and we go about our normal businesses without trampling on the rights of others. But the new song in the mouths of some people around here is that they must send the Fulani away.
There is no cogent reason at all. Whenever we challenge them, they tell us the herdsmen have been destroying their farms, which is not true. If any of our cattle even mistakenly steps on a farm, we would ask them to value the loss and we have been paying compensation when such a thing happens. We are doing this to maintain peace and harmony between us and farmers in Ibarapa here and other parts of Oyo State.
What is your advice on how to end the constant farmers/herders clash?
The only solution is for government to provide us grazing reserves. Here in Gangan where I live is a grazing reserve. It has been turned to a grazing reserve and gazetted the federal government, yet the farmers make use of the land and we don’t complain. We don’t destroy their farms or prevent them from farming.
How long have you been residing in Ibarapa?
I have been living here for the past 60 years with my late father who settled in this place; that is his burial ground (pointing to it). I’ll have to appeal to whoever is insisting on sending me away because I don’t have any other place to go to. This is where I earn my living. This hut belongs to me and my children and we have lived peacefully with the surrounding villages.
Source: Daily Trust