By Chukwudi Nweje
The 10 local government areas that make up Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State, under the auspices of Oke-Ogun Council of Elders, at the weekend, sent save our souls (SOS) messages to the Federal and Oyo State governments to save them from the activities of herdsmen threatening to overrun their communities.
The local government areas, -Atisbo, Irepo, Iseyin, Iwajowa, Itesiwaju, Kajola, Olorunsogo, Oorelope, Saki East, and Saki West- noted that the area “is one of the focal areas that the foreign marauders are using as entry point into Nigeria”, and that foreign marauders are currently using it to infiltrate into Nigeria with the aim of eventually taking over their lands.
“The Council took note of the alarm raised by the former Director of Military Intelligence and current Chairman of the Oyo State Security Network (Amotekun), General Kunle Togun (rtd) on the influx of foreign Fulani Bororo who seem bent on taking over many lands in Nigeria particularly in the South West. His view was corroborated by the pioneer and current directors of the Institute, Professors Isaac Olawale Albert and Tajudeen Akanji. The Oke-Ogun Elders expressed serious concern on this matter.”
They said this in a communiqué issued after the Oke Ogun Council of Elders (OCE) mid-year meeting held under the chairmanship of its President, Otunba Bamidele Dada, a former Minister of State for Agriculture and Water Resources, in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, even as they urged the federal and state governments to take necessary action by strengthening security in the area to keep the invading foreign Fulani at bay.
The communiqué signed by Jare Ajayi also raised the alarm over what they referred to as an apparent bias of the security agencies, particularly the police whenever there is a clash between farmers and herders.
“When farmers and herders have clashes, security agencies, especially the Police, tend to side with the herders even when the farmer is the victim. Instances abound in which when, for instance, a cow ate tubers or grains sprayed with chemicals in a farm and something happened to the cattle, the farmer would be forced to pay for the dead cow even when it was the cattle that came to the farm. In this respect, security agencies, especially the Police, are called upon to ensure fairness and justice in their handling of farmers/herders’ clashes”, it said.
The elders called on the Oyo State Government to, without further delay, commence the enforcement of the Anti-Open Grazing Law enacted by the state government.
The Elders Council bemoaned the strike action embarked upon by members of the Vigilante Group established by various local government councils in Oke Ogun as a result of poor remuneration and urged the governments concerned to, as a matter of urgency, respond positively to the demands of the striking security personnel as their service is very critical.