By Ola Ajayi
Ibadan — IN what appears to be a lone voice among his counterparts from the South West, the Osun State governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has condemned in strong terms the recent killings of innocent people in Benue State by Fulani herdsmen saying the only way the Federal Government can assure Nigerians of their safety is to arrest all bloodthirsty criminals and ensure they face the wrath of the law.
Aregbesola, at a conference, entitled: ’African Knowledge and Alternative Futures,’ organised in honour of a professor of African History at the University of Texas, Austin, United States of America, USA, Prof Toyin Falola, on his 65th year birthday, said until those involved in the murderous acts were rounded up by security agents, other Nigerians might not be sure of their safety.
Aregbesola said: “We should demand the apprehension of the criminals, who torment the compatriots, and adequate judicial action should be taken against them. That is the only way we can tell Nigerians that their safety is guaranteed by the law and the government.
“So, I condemn the herdsmen atrocities. We must go beyond that to situate what will be our reaction and response as a people and a nation. However, I am joining other well-meaning people in calling on the security agencies to bring an end to the wittiness of this act.”
Warning that the wanton destruction of lives and property was a threat to national unity, he stressed that killings by herdsmen “is condemnable.”
He said: “The taking of human lives, especially of unarmed innocent people, who are not in any state of war, is unjustifiable, cruel and should not be tolerated in any civilised society.”
At the event which was coordinated by Prof Jide Owoeye, Proprietor, Lead City University, Ibadan, the governor cautioned Nigerians that, ”As a people, we need to tread carefully here on the killings by the herdsmen across the country. As bad and reprehensible as they are, they are not as deadly as the Nigerian Civil War we fought between 1967 and 1970.”
“The cardinal duty of the government is the protection of lives and property. Every life is sacred and the government should keep it so. Those who are engaged in this barbaric act should be hunted to the end of the earth, apprehended, tried and serve the full deed of the law. That should be our demand.”
Aregbesola stated further that the sad incident “called for all of us to be more reflective on issues and not just act as if it does not matter. What we see in Syria, Yemen, what we are seeing in Sierra-Leone, and what we are seeing in Nigeria, makes it clear to us that peace is the only way to progress.”
“However, in the interest of the black people of the world, Nigeria must not just exist. In the interest of the black race, Nigeria must not just exist but it must be strong and must be able to lead the continent to achieve its manifest, historic destiny, that is why we must be careful in responding to some of these actions.”
His counterpart from Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, who was represented by Alhaji Olalekan Alli, Secretary to the State Government, said that his administration would focus on good governance as upheld by Falola.
Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi, said, “The Nigerian case calls for the intellectual input of the Yoruba to re-define the nature and pattern of relationship among the diverse and seemingly disparate ethnic groups or nations in Nigeria.