Women protest against herdsmen invasion and destruction of farmlands in Bayelsa state
Women from Otuasega community in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State in the early hours of yesterday, staged a peaceful protest against what they described as the incessant invasion and destruction of their farmlands by herdsmen.
The aggrieved women, who fell trees and tied fresh palm frond to barricade the Otuasega end of the Edepie-Imiringi Road linking communities in Ogbia and Nembe councils to Yenagoa, the state capital, called for the urgent intervention of the state government to avert bloodshed in their community.
The development caused serious gridlock on the busy route, which is a gateway to the hundreds of oil fields in the East senatorial district of the state, forcing motorists to take a detour through the Okarki-Yenigwe axis to access the state capital.
The protesters were armed with placards with the inscriptions such as, “Our Women Are Not Safe in the Farms Anymore”, “Government of Bayelsa should protect our poor farmers from destruction by herdsmen”, “We don’t want herdsmen and their cows in Otuasega again to avoid trouble”, “Our crops and farmland are constantly destroyed by cow”,“We need government assistance, our women are longer safe,” among others.
They vowed not to vacate the route until the state government look into their demands.
The woman leader of Otuasega community, Mrs. Amiena Abiogu, who led the protest said they were forced to converge on the road to draw government attention to their plight.
She lamented that despite the state government’s ban on open grazing, the herders have continued to invade and destroy their farmlands.
She recalled a near-tragic incident in which one of their youths was attacked by some herdsmen trespassing on their farmlands.
She also said: “Some few weeks back, cows invaded our community (Otuasega) with their keepers, despite the state government ban on open grazing. They invaded the community with guns, cutlasses and brutally attacked one of our youths.
“Now in less than six weeks, they have returned. We don’t like what we are seeing in our forests, our women are constantly being harassed on our farms.
“The sight of the herdsmen and their cattle alone can make one run away. It is not enough that they are threatening our lives in the forests, they are also destroying our crops.
“That is why we are here on the road today, we cannot do it in our bedroom. Also, we don’t want our boys out because it could degenerate into violence.
“Let our governor tell us what is happening. We know there is a law banning open grazing in Bayelsa State and we want to know why the herdsmen are still trespassing and destroying our crops? Our women going to farms are vulnerable, hence we need government assistance and protection.”