For four years, residents of State Housing Estate, Igba, Ondo Town in Ondo State have had to endure the activities of herders that have wreaked havock on their land.

This incessant activity has often times led to pockets of clashes between residents of the estate and the herders as well.

Illustration: DSS

According to the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, the estate is still in its developmental stage, with most residents yet to make full use of the plots of land they purchased from the Ondo State Government.

“So, the common feature here is that, residents who still have considerable plots of land without any built structure, usually farm on them,” a resident of the estate said.

“But we have not been allowed any peace as a result of the destruction the herders cause with their cattle.”

It was learnt that herdsmen and estate residents had clashed multiple times in the past, the result being several meetings of residents with representatives of the herdsmen. But those meetings have never worked.

“Whenever we talk, their representatives would promise to keep their kinsmen in check in terms of the way they rare their herds,” another resident told FIJ.

“However, as soon as they leave the meeting, the next thing you’ll hear is that they have destroyed another resident’s farm inside the estate.”

When the estate, as an association, eventually got fed up with the brazen attitude of the herders, they resorted to inviting officers of the Western Nigeria Security Network, popularly called the Amotekun, to come to their rescue.

it was learnt that the invitation to Amotekun coincided with a meeting of estate residents with the traditional ruler of Igbo-Oja community, along Ile-Oluji Road, which is not also far from the estate. It was at the January 17 meeting that State Housing Etstae residents found out that the herdsmen were also destroying people’s farms in that community too.

“After a lengthy deliberation, it was eventually agreed that the only reasonable solution left was to ask the herders to leave our estate,” explained the resident.

When the outcome of the meeting was later communicated to the herdsmen, the residents thought the matter had finally been laid to rest.

However, on three days ago, an executive member of the Estate Residents’ Association, got was summoned by the Ondo State office of the Department of State Services, through a phone call.

“I am sure the invitation he got is because we have asked the herdsmen to leave our estate. This is actually a state-owned estate, and ordinarily, the law of the estate does not even permit residents to keep animals,” said a resident.

“And if you must rear animals, it must be done in a confined area built by you, and on your property. You don’t go about destroying other people’s crops and farm produce like you own the entire place.

“I find the DSS invitation quite shocking. Are we supposed to keep quiet, fold our arms, do nothing and just continue to watch the herdsmen destroy our farms? How are we even sure that what was termed a mere invitation would not eventually lead to our fellow estate resident being unlawfully detained by the DSS?”

Ondo State has been a hotspot for farmer-herder crisis, especially in the Southwest in recent ties. Despite the signing of the state’s Anti-Grazing Bill into law by Rotimi Akeredolu, the governor of the state, in August 2021, clashes between farmers and herders have continued to be a constant feature in the sunshine state.

The invited resident is expected to appear at the DSS office located at Bolorunduro, a location along Akure-Ondo road, on Monday.

When the resident was contacted, he stylishly declined to speak, saying he was in church and would get back, but he hadn’t as of press time.

However, estate sources said the invited resident is negatively disposed to speaking to the media for fear of backlash from the DSS when he eventually honours the invitation on Monday.

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