We’ve Stopped Farming For Fear Of Being Raped, Killed By Herdsmen – Edo Women

Female farmers in Uromi, Edo State recently took to the street to protest against the alleged destruction of their farms by Fulani herders, who they also accuse of kidnapping, killing and maiming residents. ADEYINKA ADEDIPE spoke to some of the protesting women

What is your name?

My name is Edit Oke.

What is this protest by Uromi women about?

We don’t want the Fulani here anymore. We can no longer go to our farms because the Fulani have taken over our farms. Before now, one person could go to the farm and do her job. But now, a woman can no longer go to farm alone, because when they meet her on the farm, they will rape her, irrespective of her marital status. Sometimes they will climb trees and monitor women who come to the farm with the sole aim of raping them and they also kill such women even after raping them. They have destroyed many things in our farms, we no longer have cassava to harvest, we no longer see anything to harvest.

What loses have you incurred due to these attacks?

As I speak to you, they have killed many people and are still killing people. When you go to the farm, they will chase you away and if you are adamant, they will kill you. We have reported to the police and the Ojuromi (monarch) in the past, but they did not do anything about it. That was why we came out to protest against this injustice.

What do you think should be done?

As far as I am concerned, the Fulani should be sent away because there are no good Fulani in Uromi. We are pleading with the Ojuromi and the government to save us from the hands of the Fulani by sending them away from our land so that we can be free. We are not asking for compensation, we want them to leave our land, that’s all.

What is your name?

My name is Deaconess Patience Atijie.

Why have you and your fellow women taken to the street to protest?

We are here on the street protesting against atrocities by Fulani herdsmen. When we venture into farming and plant cassava, they will enter the farm, uproot the cassava and feed their cattle with it. When they meet a farmer on the farm, they will kill or maim the farmer with a machete. Women no longer go to the farm out of fear. When they meet a woman alone in the farm, they will rape the woman. These are the reasons we want them to leave our land because we used to have food but we are now hungry due to the atrocities of these herdsmen.

You said herdsmen destroyed your farm. Can you quantify the damage in monetary terms?

What we have lost is unquantifiable in monetary terms. In the past, we made huge profits from the sale of vegetables and with it we could sustain our families for months not to talk of the profits we made from other farm produce. But now, these Fulani herdsmen feed our vegetables to their cows and destroy our farms. The vegetables alone sustained us before we started harvesting tomatoes, yam and many other farm produce. But today, we no longer see any of these because of Fulani herdsmen. What we have lost in the last two months is so much not to talk of the last five years. With the problem we are facing, we can no longer feed properly and pay the school fees of our children, which leaves many of the children hopeless and they have resorted to treading the wrong path. They are now busy going to Malaysia and Senegal to make money in the wrong way because parents no longer have money to train and feed their children. Due to this hardship partially caused by the activities of these criminals, many families are even afraid to give birth to more kids, even young couples.

Are you really blaming youth migration to foreign lands on herdsmen activities?

The situation is making our youths to embark on dangerous trip by road to Libya to earn a living so as to rescue their parents from this hardship but some of them die and cause more emotional problems for their parents. Also, children are now stealing, while girls who are supposed to be in school are carrying unwanted pregnancies, with some turning to prostitution. If they had left our farms for us, won’t we make profit from the produce to train our children? Will a child who learns a trade and starts working engage in evil things? The answer is no.

You also said the herdsmen kill farmers. Can you elaborate on this?

I can’t really say the number of people that have been killed by these devilish herdsmen. Some of us are afraid to report to the police because we are not literate. And when we summon courage to go the police station, the police officers on duty will ask for money to follow up the case. So, we no longer go to the police.

If your grievance is against criminal Fulani herdsmen, why then are you demanding that all Fulani should leave Edo State; are there no good Fulani in Uromi?

Some have said there are good people among them, but I don’t know anyone that is good among these people. No one is good among these people who go from one forest to another to harm people and destroy their farms. The Fulani are not good to us at all.

Why don’t you ask government to fish out the criminal Fulani herdsmen and order them to pay for the destruction of your farms instead of demanding that all Fulani should be sent out of Edo State?

We will be very happy if we are compensated but we don’t want to see the Fulani again. If you compensate us and leave the Fulani in our land, the problem will continue. We will not be happy about compensation without the Fulani leaving our land.

But you know that as Nigerians, they can live in any part of the country. How do you want government to handle your demand?

We are calling on the police and government to save us. We want the Fulani out of our land so that we can have peace. We also pray that God give the police, government and our king the power and wisdom to save us from the hands of the Fulani. I don’t know why people will leave their place, come to other people’s land to kill and kidnap and ask for huge ransoms.

‘It’s time for government to take action’
What is your name?

My name is Hannah Oseyomon.

How much compensation do you and your colleagues want?

For me, I don’t want any compensation if the Fulani will still be in our midst. They need to leave now before wreaking more havoc. Imagine people we took in destroying our major source of livelihood because they need to feed their cattle. Apart from that, they rape, kill people and kidnap for ransom. The things they have destroyed in our farms are too much and we can’t even quantify our loss. We can’t also count the number of lives that have been lost to Fulani attacks.

What steps have you taken to resolve the issue?

We have reported the matter to the police and the Ojuromi but it seems it is time for the government to come to our aid. What we want is for the Fulani to leave Uromi and the entire state because it is clear they are up to no good.

What is your name?

My name is Rachel Elimian.

What have the Fulani herders done to you to warrant a call for their eviction from Edo State?

The Fulani have turned us to slaves in our own land. We want freedom because we can no longer move freely due to the atrocities they are committing. It is so bad that we can’t even go to our farms to harvest our crops. We can’t really estimate the destruction they have done in Uromi. Many people are now living from hand to mouth because of their poor financial situation due to the destruction of their farms by herdsmen.

How bad is this situation?

It is very bad. Apart from the destruction of our farms, so many lives have been lost. They kill people in their farms; some women have been raped and many have been injured. Imagine, a man comes home to see that his wife has been raped, how will the man feel? They also take away the woman’s self-esteem by raping her. Rape is a very big scare for a woman. Considering these atrocities, I can tell you that no Fulani in Uromi is good. Good people don’t inflict pains on others.

What steps have you taken before now to solve this problem?

We reported these atrocities to the king and the police, who have talked to these Fulani herders but the attacks still continue. I think the king has tried his best but his best is not enough. It is time for the government to step into the matter and bring peace to our community by sending these people away from our midst now that it is clear that they can’t co-exist peacefully with us, who are their host.

Also, we need compensation because we can no longer feed due to the damage done to our farms and lives.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *