Farmers, Herders Cry Out As Bauchi Govt Forcefully Take Over 10,000 Hectares of Their Land – Babangida Dajin

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About 1,000 farmers and herders in Zaki local government area of Bauchi state have lamented over the leasing of 10, 000 hectares of their ancestral land they used for many years as farms and cattle grazing areas by the Bauchi state government.

Leaders of the farmers and cattle rearers in the local government Abubakar Tatari and Bello Umar flanked by some affected farmers and herders made the lamentstion while addressing newsmen Thursday in Bauchi.

According to them, they got to know that the over 10, 000 hectares including farms, bushes and grazing areas (Ruga) in the local government were leased out to a Kano based businessman one Mamman Mai Fata by the state government as they were about to reap their dry season rice.

Tatari said they only sighted vehicles working on their farms, cutting trees and merging different farmlands togather without the knowledge of the owners.

“We therefore visited the district head of the local government to report the matter. He told us that government had given out the plots to a business man Mamman Mai Fata who owns Umza rice firm to use them for a time period of 99 years but that he would contact those in charge.

“The development led to altercation between us and those trespassers. They left for sometime but after we harvested the rice and planted another for the rainy season, they came back with the officials of the local government and entered into people’s farms to make some surveys”. He claimed.

Tatari further stated that of the 10, 000 hectares leased out by the government, about 3, 000 hectares allegedly affected their farmlands while the rest are bushy areas and herders settlements.

“I have been using my farm for over 20 years. But today it has been snatched away from me. In order to avoid taking laws into our own hands, we contacted the police DPO of Zaki local government but he referred us to the palace of the district head. The district head told us the land was leased out for 99 years to the business man by the government. We also saw the land officer of the local government with the people surveying the land”. He revealed.

Also speaking, the secretary of Miyetti Allah Cattle breeders association of Zaki local government Bello Umar alleged that 97 fulani settlements (Rugas) they used as grazing areas have been encroached as a result of the development.

“We have been displaced. We don’t know where to relocate to now. We call on the Bauchi state governor to review this action”. He appealed.

When contacted on phone, the chairman of Zaki local government Yahuza Abdulkadir said the company met the governor and were given those lands to grow rice and sugar cane.

But he said the local government and the district head were contacted and it was agreed that the land to be leased out would be only watery area and nobody’s farm would be encroached except if the owner agrees to rent his farm too.

He faulted the aggrieved farmers and herders for coming to Bauchi to address the press without contacting him. “If they meet me and didn’t get satisfactory response, then they can come to Bauchi. They should have met me and told me their farms were encroached first. But they didn’t”. He decried.

On the grazing areas allegedly touched, he said that the local government has not designated any place as grazing reserve adding that it is traditional rulers over the years that earmarked some place for use as grazing reserve (Ruga).

He said herders could alternatively use other bushy areas for grazing.

Also, the Permanent Secretary Bauchi state ministry of lands Adamu Hassan Bashir said that the site rented out was a government reserved land adding that it does not include people’s farms.

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