Over 450 members of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Kebbi, have alleged confiscation of their 14,000 hectares of lands by the Kebbi State government in Gwazawa village of Danko/Wasagu local government area of the state.
The chairman of the association in the area, Alhaji Aliyu Bature, told newsmen in Birnin Kebbi on Sunday that the farmers would lose crops worth N200 million as their farmlands had been taken over by the government.
“We planted our crops worth N200 million in our farmlands and the state government handed over our farmlands to a company for cassava production . “The destruction of our crops have already started in the presence of heavy police security officers and no any compensation has been given to us,” he said.
Bature said majority of the farmers invested the loans they secured from the banks for farming in the area.
“Some of us sold our cattle and invested the money in the farms while some took loans from banks and private individuals.
The chairman pleaded with the state government to act with mercy until after they harvested their crops before embarking on the destruction.
Reacting on the matter, the state commissioner for Environment and Solid Minerals, Alhaji Hassan Kalgo, said the 14,000 hectares the farmers alledgly taken from them is a forest reserve owned by Kebbi State government not farmlands.
“We have about eight forest reserves and the 14,000 hectares the farmers alleged we have confiscated is one of them.
“During the previous administrations, the reserve was given to a company called Excel Solution Nigeria Limited for a project and the company failed to honour the contract agreement and embarked on illegal renting of the lands collecting money from farmers and in the area.
“The farmers in the area themselves reported the company’s dubious acts to us and we forwarded the matter to State House of Assembly in which a committee from the assembly was set up, went there and came up with a recommendation that the certificate given to the company be revoked.
“The state governor, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, revoked the certificate of the company based on the Assembly’s recommendation,” he explained.