Women in Ogba-Egbema-Andoni Council of Rivers State have protested against the persistent destruction and invasion of their farmlands by herdsmen.
The protesters numbering no fewer than 200 blocked the gate of the council Headquarters at Omoku, demanding that herdsmen should vacate their farmlands.
Women leader of Obirikom in Usonmi Clan of the council, Isiodu Nkeiruka, lamented the sufferings herders have inflicted on them and their farmlands, alleging that herdsmen have been disturbing their farmlands for the past seven to eight years.
She noted that they had complained to the council chairman, Directorate of State Services (DSS), Joint Task Force (JTF) Area Command and the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in the area but all to no avail.
She lamented that they no longer harvest much cassava due to the activities of herdsmen, stressing that they get less than a basin of garri, because cattle usually destroyed their cassava and other crops.
Nkeiruka stated that farming was their major means of livelihood, adding that both men and women were farmers, which is what the Ogba people are known for.
“Herdsmen have been going to our farms destroying our yams and other crops, terrorising and killing us with knives and guns and raping our women. Enough is enough, even if you do not eat garri or cassava, your children and mothers do.
“We plead with the Federal and state government to assist us, because we do not want to be tagged lazy, just as President Muhammadu Buhari once tagged Nigerian youths as lazy,” she said.
Similarly, the local government chairman, Vincent Job, said the herdsmen menace had been a terrible situation for them.
He narrated how the herdsmen destroyed their farm produce and gave an instance of a girl beaten brutally by the herdsmen, saying he wanted the Federal Government to assist, as the people did not want to take the laws into their hands.
The Guardian recalled that a group of women numbering over 500 from Obigwe, Obitte, Obougwu and other communities, earlier protested against the herdsmen menace.
We hate the activities of the herdsmen. We plead with the Federal and state governments to assist us in calling the herdsmen to order. We do not like the way they operate in our area, but we do not want to take the laws into our hands,” he said.