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Recruit more Agro Rangers to protect our farmers – Borno speaker

The Speaker of Borno State House of Assembly, Abdulkarim Lawan on Tuesday, called on the federal government to recruit more Agro Rangers to protect farmers.…

The Speaker of Borno State House of Assembly, Abdulkarim Lawan on Tuesday, called on the federal government to recruit more Agro Rangers to protect farmers.

Lawan, in an interview with the Daily Trust, said since the formation of the security outfit, the Agro Rangers have assisted thousands of farmers in Borno to return to the fields.

He attributed Saturday’s massacre of scores of rice farmers in Zabarmari and environs to the shortage of Agro Rangers, recalling that they had made several appeals to the federal government to recruit more but to no avail.

“I am deeply pained by what happened in Zabarmari; we lost our hardworking farmers…It is particularly painful because our governor has spent a lot of money and energy in resettling our people for a normal life.

“We will not relent in renewing our appeal. The federal government should kindly recruit more civil defence personnel and by extension Agro Rangers. They should also provide them with working equipment including weapons and operational vehicles,” the speaker urged.

In 2019, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) launched the Agro Rangers programme that puts well-trained, armed escorts into the fields to watch over farmers as they worked.

The NSCDC commandant in Borno, Abdullahi Ibrahim, said before the establishment of the rangers, 144 farmers were killed and 36 others kidnapped in 2017, saying in 2018, no fewer than 142 farmers were killed and 38 kidnapped.

“But as God would have it, after the launch of the Agro Rangers, the killing reduced to 24 with 18 abducted. From the beginning of 2020 up to September, we did not record any case of killing or kidnapping of farmers in areas that we have our men.

“We take care of farmlands especially in Molai and Jimtilo area; Monguno and Gubio roads, Muna Garage and Dalori areas.  We need more personnel to cover the vast landmass of Borno State.

“Although we are working with CJTF, hunters and vigilantes just to multiply our numbers and at the same time because they have knowledge of the terrain, we need more hands and equipment,” he said.

Daily Trust reports that following the gruesome murder of 43 rice farmers in Borno, the House of Representatives Committee on Interior, on Monday, quizzed the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, over the efficiency of security agencies under his ministry.

A committee member, Bem Mzondu, asked Aregbesola why farmers were killed when there were Agro Rangers.

Responding, the minister said, “Without agro rangers, there wouldn’t have been any food production at all in the north-eastern part of Nigeria. And with the strength of that unit, there is a limit to which they can perform and defend those who they are supposed to defend. We have stretched them to the maximum.

“We should simply invest more in intelligence gathering. With effective intelligence, much more could be done to prevent the tragedies that we are experiencing here and there. That is the best I can say here. Our units, our agencies are doing the best they can,” he said.