From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Igangan is one of the seven principal towns that formed Ibarapa land in Oyo State. It is an agrarian community, which comprises four villages of Asuranran, Idiyan, Omidigbo, and Akoya. Igangan is under Ibarapa North Local Government Area of the state.
Two other principal towns in the same local government area are Aiyete, which is made up of Imofin, Iwafin, Igbodoko and Orile-Odode villages, as well as Tapa that consists of Tapa, Iki, Ago, Kogba, and Oba. The other principal towns in Ibarapa land are Igbo-Ora and Idere in Ibarapa Central Local Government as well as Eruwa and Lanlate in Ibarapa East Local Government Area.
In the beginning, the Igangan people and Fulani herdsmen that settled in different areas of the town had lived in peace. The relationship, as gathered, started more than 100 years. The Ibarapa people are farmers who planted majorly cassava, yam, maize, vegetables cashew, mango, amongothers. The story, as gathered, is the same in other towns of Ibarapa land. The paramount ruler of Igangan is the Ashigangan of Igangan land, Oba Abdul-Azeez Adewuyi Olaoye.
It was gathered that there had been inter-ethnic marriages between the Ibarapa people and Fulani herdsmen, which further cemented their relationship. The Fulani women, for many years, would hawk processed cow milk in different towns of Ibarapa and the people would buy and drink. A number of the herdsmen reportedly have maize and cassava farms, and have also been enjoying the local food, having stayed or been born in the area.
Igangan became the centre of attraction when Alhaji Abdulkadir Saliu, the Sarkin Fulani of the town was appointed as the Sarkin Fulani of Oyo State. Saliu is also the President, Jamu Nati Fulbe, a Fulani socio-cultural organisation in the Southwest. As gathered, Saliu arrived in Ibarapa land more than 40 years ago. But he initially settled in Igbo-Ora, before he moved to Igangan.
Love lost between herders and local farmers
Investigation revealed that problem started brewing in Igangan as well as other Ibarapa towns when herdsmen began to graze their cattle on the farmland of the indigenous people of the area. Some local farmers too began to poison their farmland and streams where cattle get water. The turn of event created serious tension in the area.
The local farmers said that the crisis was being managed with the assistance of the police and the state government, until it became uncontrollable close to six years ago. They complained that their daughters and women had been raped several times by herdsmen, apart from kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery and destruction of crops in farms.
The Oyo State government and the Oyo State police command on different occasions intervened with a view to finding a lasting solution to the crisis. The Ibarapa people and other parts of the state as well as the herdsmen had been at the state police headquarters, Eleyele, Ibadan at different times to sign peace pacts.
In the peace accord, it was stated that if a local farmer kills a cow, the police would intervene and ensure that adequate compensation is paid to the owner of the cow. Also, if herdsmen graze their cows on farms, the extent of the damage would be assessed and a commensurate compensation would be paid to the local farmers.
Thereafter, the local farmers complained that the peace accord did not discourage herdsmen from grazing on their farms and the police as well as the government seemed to be helpless. They stated that there had not been tangible things done to put a stop to the crisis.
But the leadership of the Fulani community had explained at different fora that the herdsmen that have been destroying plantations on farmlands are not those that settled in Ibarapa, but those that strayed to the area. They added that they too had fallen victims of those invaders. According to them, the invaders had also stolen many of the cows too.
Bone of contention
The immediate straw that broke the carmel’s back was the gruesome murder of an illustrious son of Igangan, Dr. Abdulfatai Aborode, who had spent more than 20 years abroad.
Sunday Sun gathered that Aborode was invited home to join politics prior to the 2015 general elections. He reportedly had his eyes on the House of Representatives. But he could not make any significant impact during the election.
Sources said that he thereafter lost interest in politics and decided to go into farming. He had about 30 acres of crop farm, where he employed many people that worked for him.
Herdsmen reportedly destroyed a portion of his farm and he went to report the incident to the head of Fulani community in Igangan. It was alleged that he was not allowed to leave the place alive as he was hacked down with cutlasses by suspected herdsmen. But a new twist has been introduced to the circumstances that led to the death of Aborode. A family source alleged that the death of Aborode was nothing, but political assassination.
“He went to his farm on that fateful day. But he could not take his car to the farm because at a particular spot, the road to the farm is not motorable. He bought motorcycles for his farm managers. Whenever he got to the bad spot, he would hop on one of the motorcycles he bought for his farm managers. He was returning home on that day and when they got to the bad spot, four armed masked men stopped them. They shot at him. But the native insurance on him prevented the bullets to penetrate his body.
“At the moment, he started pleading for his life. He even offered to pay them any amount the assassins wanted. But they told him that they did not want his money because his life had been paid for. So, how do you distil this? The manager that carried him on the bike on that day was not touched by the assassins. We need to know if the particular manager reported the matter after his boss was killed in his presence or he just went his way.”
Apart from Aborode, the Chief Executive Officer of Subawa Filling Station, Mrs. Sherifat Adisa, was also killed by gunmen suspected to be Fulani in the last quarter of 2020. The Chief Executive Officer of Funmilayo Clinic Care Centre, Dr. Akindele, as well as some other victims of herdsmen’s attack, including Adegoke Abiodun and Isaiah Rotimi, have bitter experiences to share. Both of them said they were attacked in their farms when they challenged herders on the destruction of crops in their farms. But none of the rape victims was ready to come out to share their experiences with journalists.
The Ashigangan of Igangan land, Oba Abdul-Azeez Olaoye, whose son, Monsuru, was kidnapped and a ransom of N5 million was paid, narrated how he was kidnapped. According to him, “it is true my son was kidnapped. His name is Aderoju Monsuru, fondly called ‘Olowo Ege.’ Though he is my brother’s son. He was freed on the fifth day after he was abducted. They trailed him to where he was praying in the mosque. They also pretended praying. Then, they kidnapped him. He was taken away and we paid ransom to rescue the boy.”
Asked who collected the ransom from him, he said he was asked to place the money at a particular spot, which he did. Thereafter, he stated that Monsuru was released. He was also asked to comment on whether the kidnappers of his son are Fulani herdsmen or not. He simply responded: “I don’t know. But Monsuru told me that those that kidnapped him spoke Fulani language.”
The monarch stated that “there were other people kidnapped by this same Fulani people. A boy, Segun Olosun, was rescued after paying N15 million ransom, seven days after he was abducted. Those rescued told us that their abductors were Fulani people. Wife of Babaso, a traditional ruler in Igbo-Ora spent four days in kidnappers’ den. The lasting solution is for their leaders to talk to them in the language they understand to live peacefully. Some of them have changed from what they used to be. They have turned themselves to Boko Haram in Yoruba land.”
Oba Olaoye also denied an allegation that he could not address the issues of herdsmen because he married a daughter of Sarkin Fulani. He said he had never had affairs or befriended any Fulani woman in his life as being speculated. He also said that he did not have cows with the Fulani.
The monarch said: “It is a lie. I didn’t marry Fulani. My wife is from Aiyete, and her name is Afusat. Her father is from Aiyete and her mother is from Idere. I don’t have any relationship with Fulani in my life. I never dated Fulani woman before.
“I don’t have even a chicken with them, let alone buying cows and putting them in their care. We have heard about some of the atrocities committed by Sarkin Fulani, Saliu Abdul-Kadir. But he was not caught red handed. We couldn’t act. Whenever we reported his men to him as the leader of Fulani people, he would defend them that they didn’t know anything about it.
“I have told him to leave even before Igboho came to Igangan because I don’t want crisis in Igangan, but he didn’t leave. This is because of what people are saying about him. It is true my son was kidnapped. His name is Monsuru. Though he is my brother’s son. He was freed on the fifth day after he was abducted. They trailed him to where he was praying in the mosque. They also pretended praying. We paid ransom to rescue the boy. There are other people kidnapped by this same Fulani people. A boy, Segun Olosun was rescued after paying N15 million, seven days later. Those rescued told us that their abductors were Fulani people. Wife of Babaso, a traditional ruler in Igbo-Ora spent four days in kidnappers’ den. The lasting solution is for their leaders to talk to them in the language they understand to live peacefully. Some of them have changed from what they used to be. They have turned themselves to Boko Haram in Yoruba land.”
Silence in the face of oppression
People have been asking questions on why the people of Igangan and other Ibarapa towns have been keeping quiet since criminals among the herdsmen have been terrorising the local farmers. The Odomofin of Aiyete, Chief Saubana Omileke Oyewole, resolved the puzzle thus:
“Police have not been fair to us. Whenever we take Fulani to the station, police would ask us to settle it among ourselves. If they destroy about one acre of crop farm, they may resolve to pay us N5,000. We even showed the Commissioner of Police in this state, Mrs. Ngozi Onadeko, when she visited Igangan. She asked us to compile the details and bring them to Ibadan.”
Politics, economy, social cost
Secretary of Igangan Development Advocates, Mr Lawal Akeem, said that the people were tired of the antics of the Sarkin Fulani, Alhaji Saliu, whom he accused of complicity in different cases.
He also said that the community had been forced to pay about N50 million in ransom for different cases of kidnapping, while also accusing Fulani herders of regularly vandalising farms and raping women of the community.
Another youth in the town, Taiwo Adeagbo, said that no fewer than 15 women had been raped in recent weeks by herdsmen. He added that the people of the town could no longer stomach the atrocities being meted to them by herders.
He stated that indigenous residents of Igangan could no longer farm peacefully again, saying that crop farmers and herdsmen cannot live together peacefully and one has to vacate for the other.
A member of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Peter Ojedokun, also said that Ibarapa land had been peaceful all the while, but that the peace was affected recently when Fulani herders started attacking members of the community on their farms, kidnapping persons and committing crimes.
The local farmers also accused the Oyo State government, apart from the police, of not doing anything to protect the people of Ibarapa against the atrocities of criminals among herdsmen.
Responding to the allegation, Special Adviser to Governor Seyi Makinde on Security Matters, Mr Fatai Owoseni, a retired commissioner of police, said: “There are a lot of narratives that have not been given out. Everybody believes that kidnapping, assassination had taken place in Igangan and it seems the government was not doing anything.
“Truth is 51 suspects have been in detention for various offences that border on this kidnapping. Arrests were made. Some have been arraigned in court. Some are awaiting trial. For some, investigation are still ongoing, which we made them (the people of Ibarapa) to know. Everyone will learn lessons, especially the police officer that was accused of complicity in some of these cases. The Commissioner of Police has given that assurance that every victim will get justice and all the allegations they have made as to the Sarkin Fulani, colluding with criminals, will be looked into.”
Commissioner of Police in the state, Mrs Ngozi Onadeko, said the police had visited Igangan, assessed and listened to the people over the incident that happened. She appealed to everyone to be calm and ensure there is peace, noting that “if there is no peace in the community, there won’t be growth and development.”
Onadeko said to the youth of Igangan to “bring out all the cases you have, put them in an orderly manner and we will make sure that justice is done.
“So, I want to enjoin all of you to be peaceful and live with one another in a peaceful manner. If we live in peace in this community, we should be able to identify kidnappers, robbers, and rapists. It does not matter where you come from – whether you are from Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa. Actually, we have the good and bad ones. Criminality is not only ascribed to a particular ethnic group, it cuts across all the ethnic groups. So, if we don’t come together with one voice, how are we going to fish out all these people?
“Please, be calm. Cooperate with the police, law enforcement agencies and we will make this place secure for everyone, irrespective of where you come from.
“I want to assure you that all the cases you brought up, a thorough investigation will be done on them and you will see that justice will be delivered.”
The Ashigangan also stated that his subjects have insisted that all herdsmen in Igangan must leave, though Governor Makinde has addressed them.
“Now that our subjects are adamant that they don’t want them (herdsmen) again, government needs to act now. There must be lasting solution to it. If they are ready to live peacefully with our people, maybe our people may have a rethink. But for now, I don’t have option than to support my people. I support whatever they want because we are all residents of Igangan.”
Governor Makinde, who had also visited Igangan and other towns in the zone over the crisis, announced his administration’s plans to set up a peace and security committees at local government levels as well as commencement of identity management programme, towards strengthening the security architecture of the state.
He identified with the people and assured them that no stone would be left unturned towards securing lives and property of residents of Igangan, Ibarapa and the entire Oyo State.
Speaking on the enforcement of anti-grazing law, Makinde declared that such is an area where state police would have helped.
Allegation of importation of 120 fulani fighters to Ibarapa
A community leader in Igbo-Ora in Ibarapa Central Local Government Area, Prince Ademola Ayoade, raised the alarm that a Bororo-Fulani leader in Aiyete, Isikilu Wakili, imported at least 120 fully armed Fulani fighters to Ibarapa land.
In a telephone interview, he alleged that destruction of farmland and attacks on farmers in Ibarapa have not stopped, even after the meeting of the Southwest governors with the leadership of Fulani herdsmen in Akure, the Ondo State capital about two weeks ago and the visit of Governor Makinde to Ibarapa land about a week ago.
He added that Wakili allegedly threatened that nobody could eject him from Kajola, and he has made it impossible for farmers that have farms in Kajola area of Aiyete to have access to their farms.
According to him, “there is a Bororo herdsman in Kajola area of Aiyete, Wikili. He has become a terror in that area. He has brought about 120 Fulani fighters to Kajola. He said nobody could evict him from the area. They are fully armed.
“Farmers that have their farms in Kajola area can no longer go to their farms. They are afraid that those fighters brought in by Wakili could attack them on their way to the farms or in their farms.
“So, that is the situation in Ibarapa now. Probably, Wakili brought in the fighters to avenge the eviction of Sarkin Fulani of Igangan and Oyo State, Alhaji Abdulkadir Saliu.”
Ayoade also contended that Governor Makinde, during his recent visit to Ibarapa, should have met with community leaders and traditional rulers, instead of elected and appointed political office holders from Ibarapa zone that he held a norturnal meeting with from Sunday to Monday, last week.
According to him, the political appointees or elected officers, who are all in the same ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with the governor, 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 Borishabunmi, also told Sunday Sun that the hostilities between Fulani herdsmen and local farmers have not been resolved in Aiyete, adding that herdsmen have continued to destroy the crops in their farms.
Miyetti Allah speaks on alleged importation of 120 fulani fighters
The chairman of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in Oyo State, Alhaji Ibrahim Jiji, when contacted to react to the allegation of importation of about 120 Fulani fighters to Kajola area of Aiyete, said: ‘I don’t know about that. But the government is there to investigate the allegation. If it is true, the government knows what to do. And if it is not true, the government also knows what to.”
Jiji, however, appealed to Makinde to include Fulani in the proposed Peace and Security Committees that he wants to set up at the local government level. He explained that Fulani would be in better position to give useful information to the government about their fellow Fulani towards strengthening security in the state. The association, he said, would cooperate with the government and support government policies.
He also commended Makinde on the way he has handled the security situation in the state so far.
He stated that the Fulani voted massively for Makinde in 2019 and they are also ready to repeat the same in 2023, adding that MACBAN appeals for peaceful co-existence.
Jiji further appealed to Makinde to look into the issue of agricultural markets in some parts of the state, adding that the markets should be resuscitated in such a way that both crop farmers and herdsmen would derive maximum benefits from them.