By Dayo Johnson, Dapo Akinrefon & Ola Ajayi
IBADAN—BARELY a week after former President Olusegun Obasanjo accused the Federal Government of being lackadaisical about invasion and unprovoked attacks by herdsmen across the country, the Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, has advised the Presidency to check the killing spree of the herders, especially in Yorubaland to prevent people from resorting to self-defence and anarchy.
This came as Agbekoya Farmers Society said it will not fold its arms while killings, rape and kidnappings go on unabated by herdsmen.
Also, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the South West has raised the alarm that the South West was under siege of herdsmen who perpetrate crime on a daily basis in the most unfettered manner.
Check herdsmen to prevent anarchy — YCE
The Yoruba elders, who said unequivocally that it appears the herdsmen were untouchable, listed many instances when they kidnapped and killed innocent people without any justifiable reason.
In a statement by its President, Col. S. Ade Agbede (retd), the elders’ council alluded to the abduction of a professor and lecturer at Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, Ile-Ife recently on Ibadan-Ife road as well as several killings of Yoruba sons and daughters on their farmlands by herdsmen to justify its worries, insisting that the trend be stopped.
Making reference to a report that there were 1,123 cells built by herdsmen within the South West, YCE called on its people to be “on guard” and hold the issue of security so dearly to prevent further loss of lives and property.
The statement read: “As Yoruba elders and leaders in our own rights, we owe it a duty to speak up. There are said to be 1,123 cells belonging to armed herdsmen located across Yoruba nation. The cells are said to be well organized and they are said to appear to network with each other as the cells may not be known except that there has been increase in their organisational skills.
“Perhaps, the most challenging issue confronting the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is that of insecurity and it is not hidden, the various efforts being made. But, one is constrained to observe that the situation is degenerating and when such a situation arises, it needs drastic solution.
“We are not oblivious of the great task of the military in nearly all parts of the north and some parts of the south against insurgents and bandits. This has made the military very stretched, thereby, needing the understanding and cooperation of Nigerians to render a helping effort in intelligence gathering to forestall what appears like a planned invasion of Yoruba nation.
“This is part of the reasons we are now calling on our people to be on guard and forge a common front to ensure the security of lives and property in our region. A released victim from herdsmen captivity said unequivocally that Yoruba nation is under siege as he recounted how about 10 armed men dressed in army uniform (camouflage) kidnapped him.
“We all have to wake up from our slumber and flush out all strange and potentially dangerous people hiding in our forests.
“A situation which makes the herdsmen appear untouchable and have laxity to behave as they like is embarrassingly worrisome and poses grave danger to peaceful coexistence among the various ethnic groups in the country.
“The Federal Government should resolve to rein in herdsmen and bandits so as not to pave way for a situation where everybody will resort to self-defence which will ultimately lead to anarchy and descend to Hobbesian state of nature where life is short, brutish and nasty.”
While calling on the Federal Government to redouble its efforts at curbing the menace of kidnappers, YCE advised that security agencies increase their air surveillance activities across the country.
“The moment the kidnappers know that they have no hiding place anywhere around the country, they would abandon the illicit venture”, YCE stated.
We won’t fold our arms — Agbekoya
Also expressing worry over the rate of insecurity, banditry and kidnapping in the South West, the Agbekoya Farmers Society said it will collaborate with the Nigeria Police to curb the kidnapping, rape and killing in South West.
The National Executive of Agbekoya Farmers Society, who met, weekend, to address the menace in the region, warned herdsmen to desist from terrorizing Yorubaland.
Its President General, Aare Okikiola Kamorudeen Aremu said: “The Agbekoya cannot continue to fold its arms while her sons and daughters are killed, raped and kidnapped on a daily basis by the Bororo Fulani. Agbekoya Farmers Society is ready to join hands with Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies in order to stop the killings, rape, abduction and kidnappings in the South West of the country.
“While we commend the efforts of the Nigeria Police Force, we want all hands to be on deck to fight the kidnappers and the killers that have invaded Yorubaland.”
While Aremu warned the herdsmen to stop terrorising the Yoruba, he asked them to stop invading the South West “for their own good.”
“Agbekoya stands for peace and unity of the Yoruba and Nigeria. We are calling on the Bororo leaders to call their people to order and warn them to desist from killing, abducting, kidnapping and rape in our area.”
We’re under siege of terrorists, S/W PDP raises alarm
On its part, the PDP in the South West, said: “It is absurd and inexcusable for us to be under siege in our own nation.”
In a statement by the party’s Zonal Publicity Secretary in Akure, Mr. Ayo Fadaka lamented that Nigerians now live in “fear and trepidation as insecurity across the length and breadth of the nation continues to grow in alarming proportions.”
Fadaka lamented that the insecurity has continued “with no sign that Mr. President is in any manner ready, equipped and prepared to bail the nation out of these orgies of violence, war, destruction and needless deaths.”
The statement read: “It is unfortunate to state that the South West is today under the siege of Fulani terrorists or herdsmen, who perpetrate criminal actions daily, in the most unfettered manner.
“In our region, kidnapping, assault and rape by these marauders remains unchecked, this lethargy has even emboldened them to attack a traditional ruler in his palace, without repercussions, thus egregiously making a bold statement that we the Yoruba have become their captives.
“This we condemn out rightly as a direct assault, insult and desecration of our corporate heritage as Yoruba people.
“We demand of President Buhari to immediately order the security agencies to flush these criminals out of the South
West. If he does, we, the Yoruba, will heave a sigh of relief and discard our suspicion that ethnic cleansing is about to be prosecuted in our nation.”
We will sincerely appreciate him for it.
“However, taking due cognisance of the President’s lethargy and pussy footing, we may not expect this to happen soon, our conclusion in this direction is reinforced by the fact that he only recently gave a directive concerning the Apapa road debacle after years of crisis and suffering it has posed to the people and national economy.
Flay S’West governors
“We also condemn the governors of the South West, particularly those of Ekiti, Osun, Ondo and Oyo States for not doing enough to safeguard their people.
“Roads across these States have become the theater of operation of these hoodlums and they seem to stand by helplessly and watch, thereby, making us to query what indeed they spend the humongous sum they take as security vote on.
“It is in Ondo State that an Oba’s palace was violently invaded by herdsmen and all the governor did is an appeasement of the hoodlums, this is disappointing.
“It is now becoming a common occurrence for these hoodlums to enter houses and pluck people like oranges.
“The Governors must compulsorily know that we are essentially Yorubas firstly irrespective of partisan political affiliations, thus, must assiduously protect our people and land through the instrumentalities of their offices compulsorily, their failure so far, which we suspect is dictated by the ephemeral need to be seen as being loyal to Mr. President, and remain in his good books without briefing him adequately on the challenges of our region is absolutely sycophantic and condemnable.
“We also call on Yoruba leaders to immediately shun partisanship and convoke a meeting where the issues of our security will be wholly addressed without delay.
“These are trying times for us as a people, we have not suffered this type of invasion since the betrayal of Afonja and we must as a matter of urgency, develop an immediate answer, to this scourge before it is too late.
“Our Obas owe us the responsibilities to eschew undue rivalry within their ranks, close gaps and design models of traditional response firstly in their various domains, and in our entire region.
“We also call on the APC leaders in the South West to put the pursuance of opportunistic desires aside and speak with President Buhari on this score, as for us in the PDP, we restate our loyalty to our Party and nation, but take very seriously our principled commitment to the peace and security of our region, Yoruba land.”