From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan, Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja, Joe Effiong, Uyo; Ogbonnaya Ndukwe, Aba; Noah Ebije, Kaduna, Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure and Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Residents of some communities in Oyo, Ogun, Edo and Abia States now live in fear and anxiety over persistent clashes between farmers and Fulani herdsmen, even as bandits remain on the rampage in some other parts of the country.
Daily Sun gathered that the, hitherto, troubled Ibarapa community, in Oyo state, was engulfed by tension, yesterday, following alleged invasion of the community by now fewer than 120 armed Fulani fighters, while women took to the streets of Benin City, the Edo State capital, to demand the eviction of herdsmen who, they alleged, would not allow them go to their farms any longer.
120 Fulani fighters imported to Ibarapa – Community leader
A community leader in Igbo-Ora in Ibarapa Central Local Government Area of Oyo State, Prince Ademola Ayoade, yesterday, raised the alarm that a Bororo-Fulani leader in Aiyete, Isikilu Wakili, had imported, at least, 120 fully armed Fulani fighters to Ibarapaland.
In a telephone interview with Daily Sun, yesterday, he alleged that destruction of farmland in Ibarapa has not stopped. The Ibarapaland comprises seven towns of Lanlate, Eruwa, Igbo-Ora, Idere, Aiyete, Tapa and Igangan, spread across three local government areas of Ibarapa East, Ibarapa Central and Ibarapa North.
He added that Wakili allegedly threatened that nobody can eject him from Kajola and vowed to make it impossible for farmers in Kajola area of Aiyete to have access to their farms.
He said: “There is a Bororo herdsman in Kajola area of Aiyete, known as Wikili. He has become a terroror 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 fighter 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 said Oyo State Governor, Seyi 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 who he held a nocturnal meeting with from Sunday through Monday, this week.
He said the political appointees and elected officers, who are all in the 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 Daily Sun, on telephone, that the hostilities between Fulani herdsmen and local farmers were not resolved in Aiyete, adding that herdsmen have continued to destroy the crops in their farms.
When contacted to react to the allegation of importation of Fulani fighters to Kajola area of Aiyete, Chairman of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in Oyo State, Alhaji Ibrahim Jiji,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 Governor Makinde to include Fulani in the proposed Peace and Security Committees that he wants to set up at local government level. He explained that Fulani would be in better position to give useful information to the government towards strengthening security in the state. The association, he said, would cooperate with the government and commended Makinde on the way he has handled the security situation in the state.
Governor Seyi Makinde had rolled out measures to ensure security of life and property in the state. He said his administration 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 also identified with the people of Ibarapa and promised that no stone would be left unturned towards securing the lives of residents of the zone and the entire state.
On the enforcement of anti-grazing law Makinde said the establishment of State Police would have helped in that regard
Igua attack: Police nab 3 suspects
Also, yesterday, three persons were arrested by the police in connection with the mayhem in Igua community of Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State, where one person was killed.
The attack, which was carried out on Tuesday night by suspected hoodlums on Fulani settlement in the town, also led to the burning of Seriki Fulani’s house and killing of 40 cows, when the Kara market was set ablaze.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Edward Ajogun, visited the community to assess the skirmish and restore normalcy.
But, in a telephone interview with Daily Sun, yesterday, the Police Public Relations Officer of the Ogun State Police Command, Abimbola Oyeyemi, said three suspects had been arrested by the police in connection with the violent attack.
He added that the three suspects were part of the group that stormed the Kara market in the community to kill cows and carted the beef away.
Oyeyemi explained that their arrest was made possible by some residents of the community who identified the suspects.
He stated further that investigations were still ongoing to get to the bottom of the matter and arrest more suspects who allegedly killed Alhaji Jiji during the attack.
The PPRO, however, said normalcy had since returned to Igua, as policemen had been stationed in the town to ensure that there is no more breakdown of law and order.
“Peace has been restored in Igua. Our operatives are presently stationed in the community. Three suspects have been arrested in connection with the mayhem.
“Like I said, on Tuesday, after the attack, the hoodlums simply took advantage of Sunday Igboho’s visit to foment trouble in the town. He had since left the state and we have appealed to the people not to get involved in violence, as police will not fold arms and allow anybody take laws into his or her hands. But, as I am speaking to you, Igua and it’s environs are calm and we will ensure the peace is maintained,” Oyeyemi stated.
We can’t go to our farms, Edo women protest
•Demand eviction of herders from state
Meanwhile, some women in Uromi, Esan local government area of Edo State, yesterday, took to the streets to protest activities of herders in the area.
The women, who marched across the streets in Benin City, the state capital, demanded the immediate eviction of herders from the area.
They accused the herders of being responsible for the violence, killings, rape and kidnappings in the area.
Some of the women said they can no longer go to their farms for fear of being raped and killed by herders who take their cows to graze on crops.
The protesters could be heard shouting “Fulani must go” as they block major roads in the town.
In January, Rotimi Akeredolu, governor of Ondo state, asked herders to vacate the forest reserves over rising insecurity in the state.
He said “bad elements” had turned the forest reserves into hideouts for keeping victims of kidnapping, negotiating ransom and carrying out other criminal activities.
On Tuesday, governors in the south-east reiterated the ban on open grazing of cattle in the region.
Fulani herdsmen allegedly kill OPC member in Ondo
In Ondo State, suspected Fulani herdsmen, yesterday, allegedly murdered a member of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Daniel Adejuyigbe, in Iju, Akure North Local Government Area of the state.
It was also gathered that the Fulani herdsmen also kidnapped a farm owner, Solomon Akinmeji, in his farm at Okeji farm settlement in the town.
The abduction took place at Atoka farm area of the border town between Iju and Ikere-Ekiti in Ekiti State.
The murder is coming barely two weeks after the State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, issued eviction order to herdsmen to vacate the state forest and for law abiding herders to register with the state government.
A youth leader in the town, Mr. Ogundeji Ayodeji, explained that the Fulani herdsmen have been terrorising the host community for a very long time through abduction for ransom as well as killing of some of their victims.
Ogundeji further explained that the latest development occurred on Saturday when Mr. Akinmeji went to his farm only to be reportedly abducted by some Fulani herdsmen, while some other men with him escaped with bruises .
No ethnic group should dominate others – Gbajabiamila
• Says NASS won’t be obstacle to service chiefs
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has warned that no ethnic group in the country should seek to dominate others, adding that the various ethnic groups should respect each other’s history, culture and trade for the sake of peace and harmony.
The Speaker, who made the remarks, yesterday, against the backdrop of frequent clashes between herdsmen and their host communities, which recently resulted in the burning of houses and killings in some parts of the country, called for a dialogue in addressing the issues.
He assured that federal lawmakers would come up with legislation to address the current unhealthy relationship between herdsmen and their host communities, especially in the South East and South West.
Speaking to State House Correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday, Gbajabiamila said: “Everybody just have to come to the table and discuss and come to amicable resolution which I’m sure we will.
“I don’t think any ethnic group should lord it over other ethnic groups. The south west should not lord it over the north, the north should not lord it over the south. We should respect each other’s trade, geographical space, history, culture and, more importantly, crime, murder and all those things should be completely jettisoned.
“But, more importantly, we all have to sit on the table and discuss this matter and look for the way forward. I think everybody is willing to do that.
“I believe that now that we are about to start work on Tuesday, I know these issues will come up and we will address them frontally in the best interest of the country.”
Gbajabiamila, who described his discussion with president Buhari on the state of the nation, as a “fruitful and interesting discussion”, said the lawmakers will continue to support the recently appointed of service chiefs to halt insecurity in the country.
“The appointment of new service chiefs is what everybody has been clamouring for and the president took his time and did it at the right time. “The National Assembly will, not in anyway, put hurdles before the service chiefs. We will make the working environment suitable for them to discharge their responsibilities very efficiently.”