By: Oluwatosin Adesola
Farmers at Ago Dada camp near Ala village in Akure north local government of Ondo state have raised alarm over alleged continuous collection of levy by officials of the ministry of agriculture, and state government tasks force despite lockdown.
They also alleged that some leaders in the community were conniving with government officials to collect levies from them to chase away suspected herdsmen that had been destroying their farm produces but had not done anything to address the challenge.
The farmers who made this known in a protest also alleged that the police had been arresting and detaining some community leaders who dared to question the illegality being perpetrated by government officials at the camp.
According to them , despite series complaints made by farmers using government forest of the criminal activities of herdsmen which had affected their outputs ,government insists on payment of ten thousand naira annual levy.
They however called on governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu to wade in and chase the herdsmen out of their village for them to be able to pay as and when due.
In a reaction, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Akeredolu on Agriculture and Agro Allied Industries, Mr Akin Olotu described the action of the farmers as an act of ingratitude to government’s gesture.
Mr Olotu explained that the farmers were using the current Covid19 pandemic as a cover not to pay the annual lease of ten thousand naira to the purse of the government.
He explained that many of the farmers were not grateful to government by refusing to pay the lease for the past two years and allegedly attacked government officials who went to the village to ask for the payment,injuring some of them, adding that the police had taken up the case.
Olotu said “I have told them we will return to the old order because I know the suffering they have been going through in the time past. In the past, they use to cut down their trees,their cocoa and they used to run to the bush,whenever they see government officials.
“I told governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu that instead of allowing individuals to go their and collect money from them,let us register them in the forest and be able to identify them.
“Secondly, that instead of people going to them, collecting money illegally and chasing them all the time, let us measure their farms, let them pay a token of #10,000 per hectare into the purse of the government,every year and the governor approved it.
“Some of them paid for 2018.They did not pay for 2019,and this is 2020,people went their to ask them and they attacked them. They driver that drove the vehicle was macheted.
“We will send them packing from the forest,let them go to President Muhammadu Buhari,” Olotu said