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Cattle Destroy 35,000 Hectares Of Rice Farm In Enugu – Officials

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The leader of the Hausa community in the state has described the destruction as “unfortunate”.

A group known as the Enugu State Graduate Farmers, has expressed dismay over the destruction of its 35,000 hectares of rice farm by herders in the state.

The farmland is at Ojoloko farm site at Umuiba, Nara, in Nkanu East Local Government Area of Enugu State.

Some of the farmers who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Enugu, said all their investments in the farmland were destroyed by cattle.

They complained that the bank that lent them money was now after them for repayment.

‘After grazing, they set farm on fire’

Speaking to NAN on the development, the President, Enugu State Graduate Farmers, Patrick Mba, said that at every harvest, the herders would go to the farm, eat up their rice and set others on fire.

According to him, the farmers have lost billions of naira and up till now Sterling Bank is chasing some of them around because of inability to repay the loan they took.

“We are those farmers trained by the Enugu State Government during the tenure of former Governor Sullivan Chime.

“We started farming at Adani in Uzouwani Local Government Area, but when the farm was handed over to another company, we relocated to Nara where we have over 50, 000 hectares of land.

“We cultivated 35,000 hectares with rice both certified seed and paddy rice, since 2020 and in 2021, we borrowed money and did the farming, but when we were about to harvest, cows ate 80 per cent of the rice.

“They are in our farm on Sunday and Monday grazing and setting the rest on fire,” Mr Mba said.

He added that they did not confront them but reported the matter to the State Security Service, Amagunze Police Station, and also informed the commissioner of police and the Enugu State Government.

“We have once been invited for a meeting, but after the meeting the herders came back and did worse.

“We are appealing to the government to help us stop them from entering our farms as well as organisations to come to our aid as most have lost confidence in farming.

“Since 2020 that we started, we have lost all that we planted worth N1.5 billion, but this year experience was much,” he said.

Another farmer and leader of a farm cluster, Chukwudinka Ezeihu, described the attack as a total destruction, stressing that it has been devastating for them.

He explained that when they were expecting a quantum of yield from their rice they suffered to farm, they would wake up and see the farm destroyed by herders.

“This year alone, we have lost billions of naira. How do we pay people that invested their money in the business?

“When we sent out videos of the destruction early this January, I made a statement at the Amagunze Police Station where they gave us someone to mediate between the farmers and the herders.

He said that the herders agreed to compensate them for the destruction.

“How can they be telling somebody who had lost over N1 million that he is going to be paid N200,000 as compensation?” he asked.

Corroborating the claims, another farm cluster leader, Emeka Ugwuja, said, “If you go to the police there now, you will see five different complaints on the same issue. Most families are already leaving their houses.

“My own farm is valued at N10 million, they are negotiating to pay compensation of N500,000.

“Government should please chase those herders from the agrarian community as our means of livelihood have been affected,” he appealed.

‘What I saw was heartbreaking’

Chidike Ukoh, the founding president of the National Youths Empowerment Association, Africa, a civil society organisation, who inspected the level of destruction at the rice farm, said he received a call on the emergency situation of the farm.

He said Enugu graduates farmers were partners with them for over 12 years consistently.

“We have done some interventions for them and they are a wonderful and fantastic group.

“They told us that herders invaded their farms and destroyed it. I have visited the farm to see things for myself, the rice fields were burnt, (and) some packed rice were marched by cows, making it impossible to pick them.

“What I saw was heartbreaking as some rice heaps they cut waiting for threshing were set on fire. On getting there on Sunday, some rice were still burning,” Mr Ukoh said.

He added, “Our own interest is peace, mediation and sustained peace as a civil society organisation. Let the livestock and rice farmer coexist as nature provides and not one putting the other into indebtedness and suffering.

“Let there be security and with their action, the national food security by President Bola Tinubu will not be achieved”.

Leader of Hausa community speaks on the destruction

Abubakar Sambo, the Sarki Hausawa and leader of Hausa community in Enugu State, while saying that the issue of herders was a very complex one, described the situation as “very unfortunate”.

He said as the Hausa leader in the state, he has tried to maintain peaceful coexistence in Enugu and ensure that herders do not destroy farmland but where it happens, they should pay for damage.

Proffering solutions, Mr Sambo called for establishment of ranching to stop the animals from entering into farms.

“From the complaints I have received, the destruction is much, and it is saddening that people will cultivate and somebody will destroy it. We are doing our best to see that those involved pay compensation,” he said.

‘We’re doing our best’ – Police

Speaking on the matter, the divisional police officer in the area, who did not want his name mentioned in the story, told NAN that they were aware of the situation, adding that the division had visited the farmland several times.

“We are doing our best to curtail their activities which is becoming too much,” he said.

When contacted, the State’s Commissioner for Agriculture and Agro Industrialisation, Patrick Ubru, said he had been having meetings with Miyetti Allah on how to curb the menace, adding that the Enugu State Government had not rested on the matter.

He stated that attacks by herders was a national issue, stressing that it was heartbroken that after suffering, farmers would lose their rice to herders.

“Government is not resting, we are doing something. Governor Mbah has deployed security agencies everywhere to ensure that the state is secured,” Mr Ubru said.

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Gender activist advocates increased investment to end GBV in Kaduna State

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Mr Yusha’u Abubakar, a Gender Activist, has called on the Kaduna State Government to increase investment in gender programmes and interventions to win the war against Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

Abubakar, who is the Executive Director, Enhancing Communities Action for Peace, and Better Health Initiative (e-CAPH), made the call in Kaduna on Wednesday.

Abubakar said that the call is in line with the campaign theme of the 2023 16 Days Activism to End Gender-Based Violence (GBV) — “Unite! Invest to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls.”

The 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) is an annual international campaign that runs from Nov. 25, which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, until Dec. 10, which is Human Rights Day.

The campaign was started by activists at the inauguration of the Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 as organising strategy by individuals and organisations around the world to
call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.

The global initiative is aimed at raising awareness about the devastating impact of violence on women and children, and the social fabric of the society.

It is also aimed at challenging discriminatory attitudes and call for improved laws and services to end violence against women for good.

However, the gender activist said that not much would be achieved if governments at all levels do not invest hugely in interventions and programmes to end the scourge.

He said “we checked the state’s 2024 draft budget and realised that not much was provided for GBV in the budget.

“We presented our concerns during the 2024 Budget Townhall, and we are hopeful that the concerns will be captured in the final budget estimate submitted to the state House of Assembly for approval,” he said.

He described GBV as a “power dynamic between the strongest and the weakest”, and stressed the need for survivors to report and hold duty bearers accountable.

He said “e-CAPH is working with relevant government agencies and relevant stakeholders in the state to address increasing GBV incidences.

“What we are doing is to engage relevant stakeholders at different levels – traditional and religious leaders, school pupils, young people, and women groups to collaborate and work together against GBV.

“We are also working with the Nigerian Police, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, and other stakeholders to ensure coordination and working as a group as against working in silos.

“We are equally working with government agencies, particularly the Ministry of Human Services and Social Development, including the commissioner, Hajiya Rabi Salisu, to strengthen government’s response to GBV cases in the state.

“However, the bottom line is that government needs to spend more to achieve the desired results,” he said.

Abubakar expressed concern that the number of GBV cases in the state was still high, stressing the need for the government to operationalise Family Courts where GBV cases could be prosecuted.

He said that the courts, if operationalised, would speed up the prosecution of perpetrators and dispense prompt justice to survivors.

He said that an official data from the state shows that 1,051 cases were reported in 2023 in the state, adding however, that only 10 got justice.

“Therefore, this minimal justice for the survivors is significantly contributing to the high number of GBV cases being recorded in the state.

“The Commissioner for Human Services, Hajiya Rabi Salisu has assured us that the Family Courts which have been designated, will begin sitting in January 2024 and we commend the government for this,” Abubakar said.

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Subsidy: Alumni donates rice to varsity staff

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The University of Cross River State (Unicross) Alumni Association on Tuesday in Calabar donated 50 bags of rice to workers in the institution.

The National President of the association, Dr Inyali Peter, said the donation was meant to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal and the present economic situation in the country.

Inyali who made the donation on behalf of the association, also appealed to the government to increase the monthly subvention to the institution.

The national president further appealed to Cross River citizens of note to reach out to staff of the institution during the yuletide period.

Inyali who recently emerged the President of the Unicross Alumni, said the association would continue to prioritise the welfare and interest of both the students and staff of the institution.

“During our campaigns, we said that even though the association is not a union, as we will give in our all to work to give back to our alma mater.

“We will not forget our members who are genuinely in need. This, to us, is also the essence of an alumni association.

“We are aware that you are owed some salaries, not because the management is unwilling to pay but because the finances are not just there.

“The subvention from the government can no longer carry the university because the institution is growing with new programmes and the staff strength is expanding.

“Even if salaries are paid, the hard economic condition would make it difficult for you to cater to the enormity of challenges facing you with your meager salaries.

“So, we decided to reach out with this little token. We intended to reach out to everybody but we’re constrained financially.”

The association commended Gov. Bassey Otu for the rehabilitation of both the internal and external roads within the institution.

“We believe that the governor is aware of the suffering of our staff and how management is struggling to pay salaries.

“Therefore, as an association, we want to appeal to him to urgently consider the upward review of the monthly subvention to the university,” he stated.

Speaking on behalf of ex-students working in the university, Dr. Godswill John, Convener, ‘BLazers for Unicross’ commended the NEC for their magnanimity and assured that the rice will be sure fairly.

Dr Godswill John, commended the alumni for their magnanimity and assured that the rice will be shared fairly.

“This is the first time we are experiencing this. You know we are the front liners as staff of the institution. This president is just about six days in office and we are seeing action.

“This shows that more is yet to come. We thank him and his team and assure them we receive this wholeheartedly.”

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