The Vice – Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof . Sulyman Abdulkareem , has raised the alarm over the destruction of the institution’ s multi – million naira research and training farms by cattle belonging to unidentified herdsmen .
Our correspondent gathered on Monday that , following the development, the management of the institution held a security meeting with the leaders of 11 Fulani settlements located on the institution’ s land.
The meeting was also attended by representatives of law enforcement agencies comprising the Nigerian Police Force , the Department of State Security Services and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.
During the meeting , the vice – chancellor warned that the management of the university would no longer tolerate illegal grazing on its land.
Abdulkareem also ordered squatters who had started building permanent structures on the university ’ s land without approval from the management to vacate the university land in the interest of peace .
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 . ”
The VC said the purpose of the meeting was to decide on a specific deadline for the herdsmen and other illegal settlers to vacate the property .
Recalling that the university , under his immediate predecessor , Prof . Abdulganiyu Ambali, in 2017 granted a three- month extension window to the settlers on request , he said the herders violated the agreement and failed to comply with it .
According to him, this was coming almost a year after the University authorities first issued a quit notice to the illegal settlers.
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 unauthorized 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.
However, at last Thursday’s meeting, the Vice-Chancellor clearly told the Fulani settlers that “enough is enough”.
The VC warned that the University could no longer condone the destructive activities of their grazing cattle on the University land, as this is becoming too costly for the institution to bear.
According to the institution’s publication, herdsmen from 11 communities took turns to speak at the meeting.
Reacting to the development, the Chairman of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Usman Adamu , told the UNIILORIN authorities that the herdsmen destroying the university farm land were not living in the community.
He claimed that the Fulani had been living peacefully in the environment and had even helped in checking crimes, such as kidnappings, robberies, which hitherto occurred on the university campus.
Adamu asked for time to come up with an appropriate response on the matter by February 22 , 2018.
He, therefore, told the illegal settlers, who have started building permanent structures to vacate the University land in the interest of peace.