on Monday, January 25, 2021, the six governors in the South West held a crucial meeting with traditional rulers, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and other stakeholders towards finding lasting solutions to banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, rape and destruction of farmlands in the zone.
The meeting banned night grazing and underage herding, saying such were inimical to security. The meeting also condemned occupation of government forest reserves illegally.
Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, had earlier on Monday, January 18, 2021, given a seven-day ultimatum to herdsmen to vacate the state’s forest reserves. The order followed a spike in the rate of kidnapping for ransom and armed robbery in the state. The criminals perpetrating the atrocities, it was gathered, operate from the forests.
More than one week after, Daily Sun’s investigation revealed that the level of compliance with the directive in Oyo State, particularly Ibarapa division of the state, has been zero. The area caught global attention recently when the Yoruba activist, Sunday Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho, stormed the area on Friday, January 15, 2021, and gave a seven-day notice to Fulani herdsmen to vacate the zone, which comprises Lanlate, Eruwa, Igbo-Ora, Idere, Aiyete, Tapa and Igangan.
The development eventually led to the eviction of the Sarkin Fulani of Igangan and Oyo State, Alhaji Abdulkadir Saliu. He had since relocated his family to Ilorin, Kwara State.
A community leader in Igbo-Ora in Ibarapa Central Local Government Area, Prince Ademola Ayoade, said the destruction of farmlands in Ibarapa has not stopped. He alleged that one Bororo, in Kajola, Aiyete, Ibarapa North LGA, Isikilu, brought at least 120 Fulani fighters to the village. He claimed that Isikilu boasted that nobody could evict him from Kajola, and he has made it impossible for farmers to have access to their farms.
Ayoade faulted Governor Seyi Makinde’s recent visit to Ibarapa. He argued that he should have met with community leaders and traditional rulers, instead of only elected and appointed political office holders from the zone: “The political appointees and elected officers, who are all in the same ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with him would not be able to look at the governor straight in the eyes and tell him the absolute truth.”
The Asawo of Aiyete, Oba Emmanuel Okeniyi Borisabunmi, said the the communique issued at the Akure meeting has not been implemented in Oyo State. He said the hostilities between Fulani herdsmen and local farmers have not be resolved. It was also gathered that the Anti-Open Grazing Law passed by the state House of Assembly has not been assented to by Makinde.
But in the past two weeks, no case of kidnapping has been recorded in Ibarapa, though there have been skirmishes of attacks and killings.
Makinde during his visit to Ibarapa announced his administration’s plans to set up peace and security committees at local government level, as well as commencement of identity management programme, towards strengthening the security architecture of the state.
He vowed that no stone would be left unturned towards securing the lives and properties of residents: “I feel the pain and I believe that with everybody coming together, we will be able to tackle the problem. Also, political office holders need to know that when they see something, they have to say something.”
On the enforcement of anti-grazing law, he declared: “Quite frankly, the governors are at the mercy of federal security agencies to implement certain laws. That was why we asked for State Police. It is a constitutional issue and, in the absence of having that, governors in the South West came together and formed Amotekun as a stop-gap.
“Problems don’t go away completely. But you have to keep working at it; keep pushing to get to where you really want to be and that is what we will keep doing. But the law is there, though the implementation has not been smooth, we will keep working at it.”
The chairman of MACBAN in Oyo State, Alhaji Ibrahim Jiji, could not be reached on his mobile phone for comment at the time of filing this report yesterday evening.
Meanwhile, Fulani herdsmen in Ondo State agreed to comply with the ban on open grazing. State chairman of the MACBAN, Alhaji Bello Garba, said members would not do contrary to the directive of the governors:
“Our members met and we resolved to honour the government’s position on grazing of cattle in the state. We are law-abiding. We will not contravene the laws guiding our operations.
“I have sent messages to members on the need to comply with the directive. Members who contravene government order will be dealt with by the association before such fellow is reported to the government for further sanction.”
He condemned the activities of some criminals, insisting that most crimes ascribed to Fulani herdsmen were not perpetrated by them: “We will set up a task force to monitor grazing of cattle and other activities of Fulani herdsmen in the state.”
Garba disclosed that the representatives of MACBAN also met with security agencies on the need to ensure strict compliance with the government’s order: “Governor Akeredolu recently met with Fulani and Ebira on how to ensure total implementation of the government’s policy on grazing.”