About 3,000 Ishiagu women in Ebonyi state yesterday, staged a peaceful protest to the Palace of the traditional ruler of the community, HRH Ezego Moses Ngele, against the destruction of farm crops by herdsmen.
The women, comprising mostly peasant elderly farmers, marched peacefully to the palace of the monarch, where they demanded urgent action to end the alleged indiscriminate destruction of cash crops and other farm produce by herdsmen grazing their cattle in the area.
They chanted solidarity songs and brandished green leaves as they urged the traditional ruler to prevail on the herdsmen to stop using their cattle to destroy their crops.
The protesters also requested for immediate exit of the herdsmen from the community to save their farm lands and the people from imminent famine.
Spokesperson for the group, Mrs Janet Aja, said that they were at the palace to register their grievance over the destruction of their crops by herdsmen who allow their cattle to feed on their cash crops and other farm produce in their farms.
She stated that all the crops including yam, cassava and rice, among others, have been destroyed prematurely by the rampaging herdsmen.
While expressing fears that the farmers might be left with nothing to harvest, Aja said that farmers, especially the women in the community, were at present not able to go to their farms for fear of being attacked by the herdsmen.
According to her, “The women are in your palace to inform you that our crops and farm lands are destroyed daily by cattle rearers and that we no longer go to our farms for fear of being attacked, raped or killed.
“Our rice, yams, cassava and other crops in our farms have all been destroyed and eaten up by their cattle.
“We demand urgent action from you as the community father to end the indiscriminate destruction of crops and farm lands by these foreigners.
“We don’t want the killings and destruction we hear that happen in other communities between them and farmers to happen in our own community.”
She said that the women would employ every peaceful means to ensure that the herdsmen stopped their nefarious acts in the community as well as ensure that they were evicted from the town.
“We hope that your Majesty will handle this situation by providing a lasting solution to the menace otherwise the women of this community will protest naked at Government House in Abakaliki, ” she added.
The royal father, while commending the women for their peaceful disposition, said that the palace would collaborate with other stakeholders and security agencies in dealing with the problem.
He expressed regret over the destruction of economic crops and assured the women that a permanent solution would be found.
“We sympathise with you over on the indiscriminate destruction of your farm lands but want to assure you that we will not relent in our efforts to find a last solution to the manace.
“It was good that you first registered your grievances with the palace and this shows the enormous respect you have for the institution and for me.
“We want to assure you that no stone will be left unturned in providing a lasting solution to the problem.”
Ngele further assured the women that governments at all levels were making concerted efforts to stem the security challenge and urged them to remain law-abiding and respect constituted authority.