The management of the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN) has raised the alarm over the destruction of the institution’s multi-million naira research and training farms by cattle belonging to unidentified herdsmen.
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sulyman Abdulkareem, also accused the herdsmen of poisoning the university’s dam with chemicals.
Consequently, the university gave the herdsmen notice to quit its campus.
The VC made these known on Monday after the management of the institution had held a security meeting with the leaders of 11 Fulani settlements located on the institution’s land last Thursday.
The meeting was also attended by representatives of law enforcement agencies comprising of the Nigerian Police Force, the Department of State Security Services (DSS) and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
At the meeting, held at the institution’s Auditorium Basement, Prof. Abdulkareem disclosed that the university management would no longer tolerate illegal grazing of cows on its land.
He, therefore, told the illegal settlers, who have started building permanent structures to vacate the University land in the interest of peace.
In his reply, the Chairman of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Usman Adamu, told the university management that the herdsmen destroying the institution’s farm land were not living in the community.
According to him, there are other ethnic groups embarking on illegal activities like logging and are not differentiated from the Fulani.
Abdulkareem subsequently warned that “enough is enough”, stressing that the university could no longer condone the destructive activities of their grazing cattle on its land, “as this is becoming too costly for the institution to bear”.
He said: “We have a multi-million naira programme that is currently at stake now because they (herders) have gone to the extent of uprooting tubers of cassava for their cattle to feed on. We cannot conduct any research or training on the farm again because each time we get to a point where their cattle can feed on it, they go back there and destroy it. “We care about them but we cannot afford to keep them on our land again.
“If they want to continue to be our friends, they can live anywhere around us but they should realise that this is a sacred place. Again, even where there are wars, people leave the university alone. “We are now facing a lot of financial problems and yet they are compounding the problems for us.
The teak plantation, several times they have set it on fire and there are millions of naira invested in that place.”
Abdulkareem recalled that the university management had on April 26, 2017 handed down a seven-day ultimatum to the Fulani herdsmen encroaching on the university land to quit the campus, but the quit notice was never complied with.
The vice-chancellor also noted that on May 11, 2017, 28 persons, comprising Fulani herdsmen, Yoruba and Hausa farmers, were dragged to an Ilorin Chief Magistrate’s Court for allegedly trespassing into the university land, destroying the school’s plantation and perpetrating other unauthorised activities on the university campus.
He explained that the accused persons were alleged to have resorted to poisoning the institution’s dam with chemicals, while also engaging in illegal felling of economic trees from which they made charcoal.