TWO volatile incidents capable of throwing the entire country into a second upheaval after the 1967-1970 Civil War are brewing in the South-West.
One of the two incidents is the reign of terror unleashed on the people of Ibarapa community in Oyo State by suspected Fulani herdsmen and a similar one taking place in Ondo State.
Both incidents have led the people of Ibarapa community and the Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, to issue ultimatums to Fulani herdsmen to vacate the community in Oyo State and the forest reserves in Ondo within specified times.
The Ondo State government has made it clear that “those perpetrating the heinous acts are using the forests to cover up their crimes (killings, kidnapping and attacking farmers on their ancestral farmlands). There is, therefore, need to flush out the criminals from the forest.”
Truly many people, including prominent sons and daughters of Yoruba land, and indeed the entire country, have lost their lives to these criminals of which testimonies abound that they are Fulani herdsmen.
Among those who bear witnesses regarding identities of these criminals is the Aribiyan II of Igangan, Oba Abdulazeez Adeoye, who said “the people of Igangan rose against the incursion of killer herdsmen in our community considering our experiences over the years. It has been incidents of killing, maiming, kidnapping for money and raping. It has got to an unbearable level, so we asked that they should excuse us.”
The people of Ondo and Oyo states and their traditional rulers are in agreement that these criminals should leave their states.
The right of a people to self-defence is inalienable, especially when the police and other security agencies mandated by the constitution to protect their lives and property cannot, for whatever reason, protect the people.
It is true that Nigeria’s constitution guarantees every citizen the right to live in any part of the country the citizen chooses to live, but it is also true that the moment an individual or group of persons become criminals in any place they reside, they naturally lose that right.
Where the law enforcement agencies become impotent, either due to inefficiency or as a result of connivance with the criminals, the people have full rights to take steps to protect themselves.
The North-East, North-West and North-Central Nigeria have all become theatres of insurgency. All hands must be on deck to ensure that the ‘war’ does not completely engulf the whole country.
These incidents once again throw up the urgent need for a re-jig of the national security architecture towards letting each state have its own police system. Nigeria is too big for all its people to be policed from Abuja.