By Akeem Abas
The Oyo State Chapter of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has denied the allegation that some of its members were allegedly involved in the poisoning of water sources available to the herdsmen and their cattle.
Mr John Olateru, the Association’s Chairman, said that the herdsmen were only trying to be smart, having destroyed many farmlands of AFAN members in the state with their herds.
Some groups of herdsmen had in a statement on Sunday alleged that some AFAN members in the state had allegedly poisoned the water sources available to the herdsmen and their cows in the state and also laced their grazing routes with poisonous substances.
The herdsmen claim that over 10 of their members and their cows have died from water poisoning and other deadly substances in the last three months and urged Gov. Seyi Makinde and Mr Nwachukwu Enwonwu, Commissioner of Police, Oyo State, to intervene in the matter.
The AFAN boss said that the allegation of the herdsmen was contrary to what was happening, adding that several of their members’ farmlands had allegedly been destroyed by their herds.
According to him, “A maize farmland of five acres was destroyed by their cattle and the owner of the farm had serious machete wounds. He only escaped being killed with the intervention of other farmers.
“A similar scenario occurred in Ila area and Iseyin. The truth is that these farmers always rush to the press to make fictitious allegations whenever they have committed heinous acts.’’
Olateru alleged that the herdsmen had persistently flouted the laws which prohibit them from grazing their cattle in the farmlands of AFAN members.
“What is our interest in the grazing routes? They have been destroying our farmlands and attacking our members whenever we complain.
“Several of our members cannot go to their farms again because they are afraid of being killed. Also, AFAN members are afraid of investing so much in the farms, only for them to be destroyed by the herdsmen and their cows,” he said.
Olateru also said that all the allegations levelled against farmers by the herdsmen were untrue, urging the governor and the state police commissioner to call them to order.
When contacted, SP Olugbenga Fadeyi, the Oyo State Police/Public Relations Officer, said that any group with such complaints should channel them officially to the Commissioner of Police.
He added that the command had yet to get any official report on such developments.