MAKURDI – The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has lost his rice farm located in Gbajimba in the Guma Local Government Area of the state to fire as suspected armed Fulani herdsmen, on New Year’s eve, stormed the rice farm and set it ablaze.
The Punch quoted the Farm Manager, Kena Iordzua, as claiming that the farm was about 250 hectares of land, with the burnt rice estimated at over N100m.
The farm manager was said to have informed that the herders came to the farm with a large number of cattle during the day and set it on fire at three different points.
Iordzua said the inferno could not be put out due to the wild nature of the fire as a result of the harmattan.
He added that security agents were mobilised to go after the herdsmen, who shot sporadically in the air as they retreated towards the Nasarawa State border.
“The burnt portion of this rice farm is estimated to be 250 hectares and was worth well over N100m.
“The herdsmen came with large numbers of cattle and they set fire to the large expanse of farmland in three places, which made the fire to spread faster than expected”, the manager was quoted to have said.
The Principal Special Assistant to the Governor on Special Duties, Abrahams Kwaghngu, described the action of the herdsmen as barbaric and a threat to food security.
He stated that the law prohibiting open grazing of cattle was still in force in the state and should be obeyed by all, stressing that the Federal Government needed to act fast to stop impunity by the herders.
Kwaghngu lamented that after displacing the people from their ancestral homes for over a year, the herdsmen would not allow the little crops that had been cultivated to be harvested.