A crisis looms at the Oke- Ogun area of Oyo State, except urgent steps are taken to strengthen ties between some Fulani herdsmen and the traditional hunters of the area over about 500 missing cows belonging to the Fulani.
This is as the hunters of the area warned the Fulani herdsmen that they would not tolerate any conduct that may lead to the breakdown of law and order.
The Fulani on their part accused their host communities of exhibiting lackadaisical attitude to their plight. About 500 cows belonging to the itinerant Fulani herdsmen were said to have gone missing recently in the Oke Ogun area of the state, with the owners accusing people of the communities in the area of stealing their live stocks.
The Fulani were said to have closed down all meat markets in the area as a form of retributive action against their hosts, who in turn issued a warning to the herdsmen not to take the laws into their hands, but rather conduct themselves within the ambits of the law, while a solution is being sought.
Chairman of the Soludero Hunters Association, Chief Oladejo Oladapo and the President of the association, Chief Nureni Ajijola Idris have advised the Fulani socio-cultural organization, Jamu Nati Fulbe Association of Nigeria not to resort to violence as the state government and police are making arrangement to resolve the disappearance of their cows.
He gave the advice while speaking with newsmen in Ibadan at the weekend. According to the Head Hunter, it would be helpful for the herdsmen to toe the path of peace as violence would only escalate the matter.
National Chairman of the Fulani herdsmen, Alhaji Saliu Kadir, had, a fortnight ago, lamented that since the report of the sudden disappearance of their cattle was made, the committee that was set up to address the issue had been too lackadaisical towards the plight of those affected by the massive loss.
As a first step to recovering their cows, the herdsmen had ordered closure of all their cattle markets in Ibarapa area.
Reacting to the incident, Oladapo said: “We are aware of what Fulani herdsmen are doing in Oke-Ogun and Ibarapa areas of Oyo State. We have to make rituals so that their killing instincts will not gain ground in Oyo as they do in other places.
There is nothing like prayers. We will pray and make rituals in all corners of the state so that evil will not happen to us. Evil will not happen. Rituals help in matters of this nature”.
Oladapo however, warned the herdsmen not to foment trouble of any kind but rather allow the law to take its course, so that the issue can be resolved peacefully.
“If they want to be violent, we will be prepared for them and they would not overcome us. Hunters are to maintain peace in society and we will live up to this responsibility. If there is any hostility somewhere, we the hunters have the capability to confront it and ward it off.
“The Fulani herdsmen are here to graze their animals, they should face their chosen job and not to kill our people and rape our women. If they do, we know what we can do so that they would not stay here in Oyo State. By the time we put some things together, they would not be able to stay here again,” he warned.
Responding, Nureni Idris, said: “We are calling on all Fulani herdsmen to comport themselves and not disturb the peace of Oyo State. If they don’t, we will send our hunters into all areas to check their excesses.
“We cannot be here and allow them to do harm to our people. We will not allow it. Our fathers are blessed with charms and they have transferred it to us. We know what we can do to arrest whoever ruptures the peace of the state and hand him over to the law enforcement agents,” he cautioned.
In a related development, the Ijaw Professionals Association (IPA) has asked the Bayelsa State government to rescind its decision to allocate 1,200 hectares of land to Fulani herdsmen in the state.
This follows criticisms from a section of Ijaw people of Governor Seriake Dickson to allocate the Bayelsa Palm Limited premises in Yenagoa to Fulani herdsmen for cattle grazing and ranching.
While some applauded the government decision, others, including Ankio Briggs, had vehemently opposed it. They said allowing grazing in any part of the state would cause trouble for the Ijaw in future.
The group said this in a statement at the weekend signed by its National President and Homeland Chapter President in charge of Lagos, Iniruo Wills and Elaye Otrofanowei respectively.
It urged Dickson to stay action on the decision “until after adequate stakeholder consultations, which should include well-publicized town hall meetings.”
The group also condemned attacks by thugs suspected to be members of the Bayelsa State Volunteers on a group of Ijaw stakeholders led by Ijaw human rights activist, Ankio Briggs, who were on a peaceful protest in Yenagoa against the government’s decision recently.
IPA also deplored the hypocritical role played by some security agents and top public officers who supervised the assault on the protesters. It wondered why such violence would be unleashed on the Ijaw stakeholders protesting peacefully in the ‘The Jerusalem of Ijaw Nation’.
“This is a most dangerous and grossly undemocratic practice that must not be allowed to set in Ijaw land or indeed in Nigeria at wide. We demand that citizens of Nigeria, as in other democracies of the world, enjoy enshrined and fundamental rights to freedom of assembly, expression and peaceful protest under the law.
The peaceful exercise of these rights is not to be forcefully denied or suppressed, whether by official or unofficial forces,” IPA stated.
It insisted that the governor should urgently consult widely to gain further insights on the subject, allow all stakeholders to ventilate their views, and allay their fears.
IPA, therefore, called on the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to begin an independent investigation into the February 14 incident to unravel the truth and ensure appropriate redress for the victims, as well as penal justice for the culprits.
Meanwhile, Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has again warned the people of the state to always report herdsmen fermenting trouble in the state to law enforcement agents rather than engage in reprisal attacks. He said this yesterday during a thanksgiving service at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Agbeede, Konshisha council area organized by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Terver Akase.
He stated that handing over the state to God marks the beginning of good things in Benue. He added that the emergence of a God fearing man as the Tor Tiv and improved security in the state through the amnesty programme would bring development to the state.
The governor also urged the people of the state to assist the state government in fighting corruption by exposing those perpetrating the evil act for necessary action just as he called on other illustrious sons of the state with inputs that would move the state forward to bring them forward for incorporation into the development programmes of the state.
Ortom, who viewed calls on him to contest for a second term in 2019 as distraction for now, urged them to wait for the right time. He said when that time comes, the Almighty God will direct and fight for him.
He described Akase as a fearless and unbiased journalist who report issues objectively and prayed that God will continue to guide and guard him in his good work
Earlier in a sermon, Rev. Father Steven Suega, stressed the need for people to give thanks to God for His good deeds to them; noting that it does not amount to having so much before one would give thank to whoever did good to you.
Responding, Akase expressed gratitude to God and Governor Ortom for finding him worthy to serve in the administration. He noted that his being called to service has made him and members of his family to come closer to God.
He described the governor as someone who finds favour with everybody irrespective of where you come from. Also, farmers in the Igbodu/Isiwo area of Epe in Lagos State, yesterday raised an alarm over the incessant kidnapping targeted at them in the last few months.
The aggrieved farmers alleged that over 50 of their colleagues have fallen victims to the nefarious activities of the kidnappers, who only release them after the ransoms have been paid.
In a bid to spur up action and attract the attention of the Lagos State government to their plight, the farmers said they would today (Monday) protest to the state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode.
In a statement by a representive of the Igbodu/Isiwo Road Farmers, Ayokunle Ore, the group said although they have engaged the police in the past their response have been very poor.
The statement read in part: “As you are aware, over the last couple of months, the Igbodu/Isiwo farmers have been under attack by hoodlums.
“They have successfully kidnapped at different times over 50 people and counting and only release them after payment of huge ransom by family members.”
The farmers lamented that the most recent incident of kidnap took place on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 when seven people were kidnapped from a poultry farm.
“As we speak, they are yet to be released and the kidnappers are asking for a huge ransom for their release. On this note, we are planning to have a peaceful protest at Alausa, in Ikeja on Monday, to make our grievances and helplessness known to the governor who also happens to be an indigene of Epe. He needs to come to our aid,” the statement added.
The abductors of the two members of O’odua People’s Congress (OPC) and five workers of Eliasa Livestock farm who were kidnapped in Igbodu area of Epe last Tuesday, have demanded the sum of N50 million as ransom from families of the victims.
It was learnt that the gunmen contacted the manager of the farm through the telephone of one of the victims yesterday and asked for N50 million for the seven victims.