– Suspected herdsmen dominant in local farming communities in Plateau state are causing havoc on a daily basis
– Residents in the area daily lament on the invasion of their farms by the marauding herdsmen
– One of such persons, an investor, has lost his moringa farm worth over N60million
A Nigerian agricultural investor, Mr. James Paul Adama have lost his 160 hectares of farmland located at Kwi village in Riyom local government area of Plateau state due to activities of suspected herdsmen.
Adama, a native of Kogi state, kick-started the project in April 2018, with the aim of supplying the products to foreign and local companies.
But his dreams were shattered when the villagers in Kwi, started calling him on the phone, while he had gone back to Abuja, his original base, telling him some herdsmen have invaded the farm.
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“This is a situation I find myself. This is my farm. A moringa farm of about 160 hectares and the farm has been destroyed. You can see some of the moringas that were destroyed. You can see the cow dungs and cow pow inside the farm. It’s a big massive farm. As I am talking to you, we don’t even have one percent of what we have planted here,” Adama lamented as he took NAIJ.com round the expansive land.
Narrating his ordeal, he said: “I started with a little farm in Abuja with about 6/7 hectares, around Kwali area, close to Mathematical Centre. I saw that it wasn’t enough. So, a company contacted me to buy 5,000 metric tonnes of moringa seed every year for the next ten years.
“And so, I was able to meet a family, and the family has this land, 160 hectares, they have not been using it and they said, okay, the best thing to do is to give me this land to put this investment, since this investment will last for 75 years.
“I moved down here August last year and I started work. As at April, we started planting and the moringas were doing extremely well. We decided to take a month to go and rest, while resting in Abuja, I received a call from some of the villagers and some of the owners of the land to say cows are invading the farm.
“Every day, nothing less than 700 herdsmen, will move from the vast area, to this place, uprooting the moringas and moving into the farm with cows in their thousands.
“So, one of the days, I came down myself and we came to the farm here, they started shooting at us on sighting us. I went back and said nobody should go close, that people’s lives are more important than whatever we planted here.”
Adama said he has reported the incident to the authorities, but he is yet to get any concrete response from them.
According to him he has written to the Commander, Operation Safe Haven (a joint task force of security agencies instituted to maintain peace in Plateau), Director of the State Security Service, office of the deputy governor and commissioner of police, all in Plateau state.
He showed NAIJ.com copied of the letters sent and the acknowledgement copies.
“I’m puzzled and my heart bleeds to recall on the financial expenditure of the farm. Over 68,300,000 naira has been spent so far evidence by the bank transaction details and other book keeping records. This figure is devoid of exaggeration and can be impeccably proven before any authority.
“This is the tacit matter as stake. I’m appealing as it is said “No justice, no peace” to implore every means of justice to amicably resolve this crucial matter as a mean to restore peace on the Plateau and Nigeria as a whole,” Adama wrote in the letter to Operation Save Haven.
According to the Plateau Initiative for Development and Advancement of the Natives (PIDAN), a socio-cultural organisation for indigenous tribes of the Plateau, more than 219 natives have been killed by armed herders in four local government councils of the state within the past 4 months.
A recent media report also claims that over 54 communities in Plateau have been taken over by herdsmen after recent attacks in the state on farming communities. According to the report, the attacks have seen native communities in Plateau state taken over by invading herders and even renaming them.
The natives, mostly Berom by tribe, the report says, have watched helplessly as their homes are occupied, people killed and farmlands taken over and, in some cases, the original names of the villages changed.
The report noted that prominent leaders of the Berom tribe and socio-cultural groups before now had consistently appealed to the federal government to tackle land occupation by foreign herders but their entreaties were ignored.
Davou Dalyop Jambol, the president of Shonong Development Association in Plateau state, in a recent interview with NAIJ.com says the crisis has escalated because of the bias of government.
His words: “To the best of my knowledge, I have never seen one day that a Berom man attacked a Fulani man. None!
“From all these attacks since 2001 till date, no Berom man has never gone to anybody to attack him. The attack is always on the Berom man. The problem now is why are there attacks and what happened? If I have not offended you and attack me, on what ground.
“Secondly, the governments are not helping matters, why I said so is, if you go the area where these people are, you will see Fulanis with weapons in their body going about, but if a Berom man happens to have a stick, going to even his farm, a security man will call him, ‘come back, where are you going with this stick?’
“That means we are saying, the government is behind this thing. That is purely what is happening. Because, if a person will go to his farm with a stick, and he will be cautioned, and the person with an arm, would not be cautioned, then the person with a stick, is a second-hand citizen in this country.”
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Meanwhile, The federal government recently announced that the N10 billion fund approved recently by President Muhammadu Buhari for the rehabilitation of farms and farming communities in Benue and Nasarawa state will also be available in Plateau state.
This was after the Plateau state government made the request through its commissioner of information, Yakubu Dati.
Adama is hopeful he will get support from the government for his ordeals, saying, “everything has been destroyed and I am appealing to government as a young man, to please compensate me so that I can start from somewhere again.”
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