By Daud Olatunji
Farmers and residents of agrarian communities in some local government areas of Ogun State have some gory tales to tell on the menace of Fulani cattle rearers, otherwise known as Fulani herdsmen.
So many lives have been lost while property worth millions of Naira has been destroyed allegedly by these Fulani marauders .
It was gathered that, the Fulani herdsmen move with their cattle from one of these agrarian communities to the other wreaking havoc.
Further findings have also shown that worse still, they do not respect the borders of the state. They did not only seek pasture they inflict deaths and mayhem.
Records have shown that, not quiet long ago, the border town of Oja-Odan in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State was invaded by some Fulani herdsmen who killed a farmer and injured dozens of others.
The farmer, identified as Agbaose Sewotan, was killed because he complained against the invasion of his farm.
It was learnt that his elder brother, Mr. Oluwole Sewontan,while narrating their ordeal, said; “this is not the first time that our people were slaughtered like cows on our own soil with impunity. My dear brother was killed simply because he protested the invasion of his farmland by the herdsmen.”
Also, a mother of three, Mrs Ayesi Balogun, was allegedly raped and killed by some suspected Fulani herdsmen at Asa village, in the Oja Odan area,Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State.
Balogun, was said to have been killed after being raped on her farm.This damning revelation was contained in a statement made available to our correspondent by the Ketu Advancement Front.
The statement which was signed by its Coordinator and Secretary, Kunle Abiose and Joseph Bankole respectively, read thus, “For the umpteenth time, we, members of Ketu Advancement Front want to register our strong protest with the Government of Senator Ibikunle Amosun over its callous abdication of its constitutional responsibility of ensuring the security of lives of Ketu People from wanton killing by marauding herdsmen.
“We are sad to announce that Mrs Ayesi Balogun, a poor mother of three, was raped and hacked to death on her farm in Asa, Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State over the weekend by Fulani herdsmen.
“On sighting her entering the farm, the killer-herdsmen, who had taken over her farm, pounced on her, probably gang raped her, before hacking her to death.”
According to the statement, Balogun’s case brought to 25, the number of innocent and poor people, who had been sent to their early graves in agonising and dehumanising circumstances.
It said, “the latest in the series of the ceaseless murder cases had been reported at the Oja-Odan Police Station for anybody to confirm.
“The state Police Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, confirmed that the corpse of Balogun was found in the bush, adding that it had not been established that she was killed by Fulani herdsmen.
He argued that it might be a reprisal killing by the Fulani herdsmen.”A few days ago, the corpse of a Fulani man was found in the bush in the same axis,” he said.
Earlier, a septuagenarian, Pa Mathew Olukogun had narrated how a newly wedded lady in Asa Village, in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State, (name withheld) was allegedly raped by armed nomadic Fulani herdsmen.
Speaking on behalf of hundreds of farmers in the area, Olukogun said these marauders have been terrorizing more than 30 communities in the Council Area.
He said the immoral acts by the normal Fulani had instilled fears into the communities, saying, fears of being attacked by the herdsmen had gripped the villagers who were appealing to the state government to come to their aid
He said “aside from this immoral act by the intruders, many of our sons and daughters have been gruesomely murdered in a way that appears as if we don’t have government.
“Our brilliant ones including our wives have been raped, assaulted and even killed by the strangers.” He said many of their wives and ladies that had been raped were either on their way to the market or river to fetch water.
“How would you feel if I mention your wife’s name as one of those that have been raped by the cattle rearers?,” the old man replied in an answer to a question on the need for him to mention names. Olukogun said those who had been raped by the marauders knew themselves.
“Many of our wives , ladies and daughter who have been raped were largely taken to the hospital in Abeokuta, the state capital.”We are losing people as well as being prevented from doing what we know how to do best because of the grazing of our farms by the herdsmen’s cattle.
‘’With the terrible experience of the raping of our daughters and ones, including newly wedded wives, living in our communities is no longer safe, hence, we have deserted the communities in hundreds, praying that the state government would urgently come to our aid.
‘’The worst of the action of the marauders was the raping of many newly wedded wives in our communities and we are bitter about this.”
“In a matter of days, they enter the country through our communities and destroy our farmlands with the indiscriminate grazing of their cattle. We are helpless and that’s why we are appealing to the state government to urgently checkmate them.”
Reacting to the incident, the State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Muyiwa Adejobi said that the Ketu people were only crying wolf where none existed.
While warning the Ketu people not to drag the Police into the matter, he stressed that ‘’the Police could only ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order rather than stopping the Fulani herdsmen from coming into the area.
Meanwhile, a coalition of socio-cultural groups from the area, including Ketu Advancement Front, Ketu South People’s Assembly and Ketu Alliance have alleged that about 21 innocent residents of the area have allegedly been killed by the Fulani herdsmen since 2000.
The representative of the socio-cultural groups, Mr. Lasisi Adewole, said three residents of the area, including Phillip Akanan from Owode-Ketu, Amosu Olofinjin and Akinola Tunde from Agbon-Ojodu have been killed this year alone by the Fulani herdsmen.
Adewole also lamented that all efforts to ensure that the police, the State Security Service and the state government put in place adequate security measures to protect the people, particularly during dry season when the Fulani herdsmen usually encroached and destroyed their farms by the indiscriminate grazing of their cattle had yielded no fruits.