Akure — The Ondo State Government has stated that it would no longer allow negotiation for compensation for farm crops destroyed by cows resulting from illegal grazing on farms.
Rather, the state government would henceforth prosecute owners of seized cows and auction the animals after getting court order.
The state Commander of the State Security Network (Amotekun Corps), Chief Adetunji Adeleye, stated this yesterday at the signing of an agreement for the release of over 250 cows arrested by the Amotekun Corps.
Adeleye said the corps arrested over 250 cows following distress call and petitions by farmers in Ipogun, Owena Dam axis in Ifedore Local Government Area of the state.
The commander said he mobilised his men for the operation, after visiting the farms and seeing the level of havoc done by the herders and their cows.
He alleged that the herders and their cattle destroyed over 300 hectares of farmland with crops, including cassava, maize, cocoyam and yam.
Adeleye added that apart from eating up the leaves and stems of the plants, the herders uprooted cassava, cocoyam and yam tubers, and used them to feed their cows, and also took some to their camps to eat.
According to the corps commander, "I was amazed when I saw the level of destruction and stealing that they did in the farm.
"When we got to the farm, the herders started attacking us, but later, they ran away but we succeeded in arresting two of them. They are in our custody. We also arrested over 250 cows, which we brought to our office.
"But to trek for 30 to 40 kilometres every time is not a joke. Not only that we have to trek this long distance, we have to conduct the cows and control traffic on the expressway while leading the cows. So it was not a small job at all.
"While doing all these, we don't engage in any financial discussion with either the farmers or the herders. We don't collect a kobo, even though we suffer a lot to bring these cows to our premises in enforcement of the law.
"When this latest incident happened, we brought them together and told them that unless they signed an undertaking, that after this operation, Amotekun will no longer allow settlement of farmers henceforth because it appears that it is not working.
"We will henceforth charge them to court and auction the cow. That is the position of the state government and the Amotekun Corps as from now on."
Adeleye added: "Any herder that destroys farmland and crops, we are not going to open the window of opportunity for negotiation for payment for compensation. They would be arrested, prosecuted, the cows would become government property and would be auctioned because they are not reciprocating the window of love we showed them by complying with agreement reached with the farmers.
"Many of the farmers have died of stroke and hypertension, and a lot of them have lost their property because they cannot service the loan they took to invest in the farm."
At a brief event, while the Chairman of the Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBA), Alhaji Garba Bello, signed for the herders, Mr. Odeyemi Joseph and three other signed for the farmers.
Speaking at the brief event, Joseph commended the Amotekun Corps for prompt response whenever they are called.
He said the agreement they have signed was for the herdsmen to remove their cows and never to come to the area again because of the havoc they have committed.