…As Presidency drives peace talks between S-West govs, Miyetti Allah
…Police, Oyo govt delegation visit Ibarapa to broker peace between Fulani, Igangan residents
…Police vow to arrest culprits in violence, arson
…Arrest 3 suspected herdsmen in Ogun
…Why Ibarapa residents rejected Fulani herders— Sunday Igboho
…Why I’ve been silent — Gani Adams
…Agbekoya, OPC back Akeredolu, Sunday Igboho; warn Presidency, Northern leaders
…FG portraying itself as ‘defender of Fulani herders’, says Falana
…Help Akeredolu, other govs flush out criminal herders, M-Belt Forum tells FG
…Rescind quit notice, compensate Fulani, AYCF tells Akeredolu
…Aggrieved parties must bury the hatchet—ACF
By Dayo Johnson, Regional Editor, South-West, Dapo Akinrefon, Ola Ajayi, Chris Ochayi, Ibrahim Hassan, & James Ogunnaike
Tension has gripped residents of Ondo and other South West states, as the ultimatum given herders to vacate forest reserves in Ondo State by Governor Rotimi Aderedolu expires today.
The tension is accentuated by the overwhelming support given the governor and Yoruba ‘freedom fighter,’ Sunday Adeyemo, aka Igboho, by groups such groups as Agbekoya and Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, which have actually threatened fire and brimestone should anything happen to the ‘freedom fighter.’
The Inspec tor General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had reportedly ordered Igboho’s arrest, following the crisis at Ibarapa area of Oyo State weekend.
Consequently, the Presidency has brokered a parley between the South-West governors and the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, in a bid to find a lasting solution to the crisis in the region occasioned by clashes between herdsmen and farmers and calm frayed nerves.
Vanguard gathered that the meeting, scheduled to hold today in Akure, Ondo State, will address the seven-day ultimatum given to herdsmen to vacate the state government’s forest reserves which ends today.
A top government source in one of the South-West states said: “The Presidency has been disturbed with the turn of events in the South-West and has secretly directed the leadership of Miyetti Allah to hold an urgent meeting with governors of the region.”
The source noted that the Presidency noticed the determination and insistence of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State to enforce the seven-day ultimatum, and had to design a way to appeal to him and the South-West governors before the ultimatum ends.
The meeting, the source disclosed to Vanguard, “was organised between the South-West governors and Miyetti Allah in a bid to stave off a major conflict with herders occupying the South-West region.”
Meeting’ll address herdsmen/farmers’ clash—MACBAN
Confirming the meeting to newsmen, chairman of MACBAN in Ondo State, Alhaji Bello Garba, said the national leadership of the body has arrived Akure for the peace parley.
Garba said: “The National Chairman of Miyetti Allah is in town now and I cannot talk about what we want to discuss at the meeting, but I can assure you that we are going to address you after the meeting.
“The meeting is to find peace and lasting solution and I am optimistic that the interface between the South-West governors and Miyetti Allah would engender the restoration of the most desired peaceful co-existence, unity and development in the region.
“We intend to work closely with the governors in this region to unmask criminals who masquerade as cattle breeders to inflict mayhem on innocent citizens. That is why we have decided to embark on peaceful approach by meeting with the governors.”
Presidency misread Ondo govt’s directive
A media aide to one of the South-West governors told Vanguard that his principal will attend the meeting.
“The whole thing was about misconception. We all know the Presidency misinterpreted the Ondo State government’s directive. They took it to mean a total action which intended to clear the state of all herders.
“While admitting that the spokesman to Mr. President acted hastily and without proper authorization, they (Presidency) have reached out to other governors to facilitate a meeting where the leadership of Miyetti Allah would likely plead for time to comply with the directive.
“My principal is involved and very concerned too because this is a Yoruba matter and not a personal issue between Aketi and the herders. So we are coming to Akure for the meeting tomorrow at 12.
“We need to give the honour to our chairman, the governor of Ondo State who is even leading the fight against insecurity in the region.”
On his part, Ondo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo, said: “Well, meetings of that nature, if true, are not unusual. We are all in it together. No ethnic group or a particular trade is the target of the government order. So, it will be a welcome development if the meeting is holding. There is nothing too unusual about it.”
Aggrieved parties must bury the hatchet—ACF
Reacting to the proposed meeting, the National Publicity Secretary of Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Emmanuel Yawe, said: “This is what they should have done when threats and ultimatums were issued. Unfortunately, they allowed the disagreements to degenerate to its present stage.
“Nigeria is under a constitutional democracy and we must practice the rule of law.
We urge those who are trying to resolve the problems to follow what the law says. “If somebody breaks the law, he must be punished as the law says, whether he is Yoruba or Fulani. Second, we call on all aggrieved parties to bury the hatchet and work for peace.”
Police, Oyo govt delegation visit Ibarapa
Similarly, following the crisis in Igangan community in Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State, the Commissioner of Police, Mrs. Ngozi Onadeko, and representatives of the state government, yesterday, visited the community to broker peace between herders and residents.
Spokesman of Oyo State Police Command, Mr. Olugbenga Fadeyi, who disclosed the development, however, did not give further details of the meeting.
This came on a day operatives of the Ogun State Police Command arrested three suspected herdsmen for allegedly attacking a woman, Mrs. Morounkeji Salami, in Oru, in Ijebu North Local Government Area of the state.
However, Yoruba freedom fighter, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, a.k.a. Igboho, who issued a seven-day eviction notice to Fulani herders that had been terrorising residents of Ibarapa council area to vacate the area, said the threat of arrest will never intimidate him.
But the state Police command has vowed to arrest all culprits involved in the violence and arson last Friday in the community.
The ultimatum issued by Governor Akeredolu and Igboho, however, elicited reactions from the Aare-Ona-Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Aare Gani Adams; the Agbekoya Farmers’ Society and Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, who warned the Presidency and the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, against playing politics and ethnicity with the state of security in the South-West.
They also kicked against the call for the arrest of Mr. Adeyemo, describing it as misguided and provocative.
Someone’ll stop oppression of Yoruba—Sunday Igboho
While narrating what happened in Igangan in a video, Igboho said all the suspected Fulani herders that were handed over to the police were released after a DPO got a directive from above (Abuja).
He said: “God will not allow destruction of Yorubaland. These herders, after holding their kidnap victims, would be asking the females among them to undress and rape them. Anyone they kidnapped, the least ransom they collect is N10 million. “Imagine the case of Dr. Aborode they killed recently. He studied till he bagged a PhD degree and then went abroad to make some money; he came back to his fatherland and started a very big farming business with millions of naira.
“The herders grazed their cattle on the farm and he went to that Sarkin, Saliu to complain. They tied him to a stake and hacked him to death. The Yoruba warned him not to go to that Sarkin but he went thinking he would help warn his people. You dare not go to that Sarkin.
“Before you get to him, there are three different barricades to his palace here in Igangan. We now went to him to call his attention to the atrocities his people were committing, the governor was now saying otherwise. I, with tribal marks? Only God knows when I will die.
“When I was nobody, I was fighting for my people and now that God has been gracious to me, would I now be fearful? I already have children; if I die today fighting for my people, my children will say our daddy was an actor.
“After God must have liberated Yorubaland from its oppressors, then we can relax.
They have turned our fathers to fools. In the time of the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Adesoji Aderemi, the then Prime Minister asked our king to come but Oba Aderemi said who? Never say that again. Ooni would never cross a river. They would rather go to him.
“If President Buhari goes to any of the emirs in the North today, he will do obeisance to him; if he comes to our own Ooni of Ife, he will stretch forth his hand for a handshake. You now reduced all of us to mere fools.
“We now spoke and you said I should be arrested. Who? Are we acting films? When the policemen came, I said they would turn away from that point and they did.
“My people too are ready to die for me. You see them. The whole thing will end in a day and it’s someone that will start it. At Iganna, herders kidnapped their local government chairman; they collected N20m ransom before he was released. You can verify that from him.”
Police arrest 3 suspected herdsmen in Ogun
Meanwhile, the suspects, said to be about eight in number, realizing the injury inflicted on the woman, following gun shots, and the fear that they might be caught, took to their heels and abandoned their cows, with a view to returning for their cows.
Mrs. Salami, now on danger list in a hospital, was said to be going to her site, when the suspects launched a violent attack on her.
It was gathered that when information about the attack filtered to the town, the police raced to the scene, and discovered that the suspected attackers had fled, leaving behind their cows.
But the police resolved to keep surveillance in the area.
The victim was later rushed to the hospital in Ago-Iwoye by sympathizers, but following the severity of the injury sustained, the hospital management advised that she be taken to a better-equipped hospital, hence, the family moved her to a hospital in Ikeja, Lagos State.
It was further gathered that the suspects, unknown to them that police kept them under surveillance, returned to the scene at about 10pm to move their abandoned cattle. It was at this stage the police swooped on them and arrested three, while others managed to escape.
Ogun Police confirm arrest
The Ogun State Police Command Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi when contacted, confirmed the incident, adding that three of the suspected herdsmen had been arrested, while intensive investigation has commenced.
Oyeyemi said: ‘Yes, the incident is true. We have arrested three of the suspects and they are in our custody, and we have equally commenced proactive investigation, and very hopeful that, the other suspects on the run are arrested in due course.”
My silence not cowardice — Gani Adams
Speaking against the backdrop of threats by Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, and the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, the Aare-Ona-Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams, has said his silence over the situation in the South-West doesn’t portray him as a coward, saying he was bound to act accordingly when the time is right.
Adams, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Aderemi, expressed concern about the security situation in the region, stating that threats of attack on the South-West could fuel further crisis in Ibarapa, Oyo and Ondo and will certainly affect the entire nation.
He, however, stated that the situation in the two states truly justified the huge security challenges perpetrated by herders, that had on several occasions, kidnapped and killed many Yoruba in their various communities, adding that Yoruba are too well aware of the looming crisis in the country.
Adams maintained that he would not be stampeded into falling into a pre-arranged trap by the political elites.
The statement reads: “The apex organization in the North and the herders association should watch their statements or face the wrath of the Yoruba nation.
“By their inciting statements, the North is beating war drums. But we will resist any attempt by the North to turn our region to a war zone and no amount of threat will stop us from securing our region from killer herdsmen.
“From my findings, what is playing out in the last three days, (especially in the social media) it is evident that there are some enemies and political elements both within and outside our region that are now using the bravery of Sunday Igboho as a coordinated attempt to soil my name, and also put my efforts in the past 28 years in the struggle to test.
“My silence in the last three days doesn’t portray me as a coward, but by virtue of my position as the Aare-Ona-Kakanfo of Yorubaland, I am bound by my conscience and conviction to act accordingly when the time is right. And I must also consult widely before taking any action.
“What Igboho said was not even as damaging to the sanctity of the nation than the call for civil war by the ACF and the Miyetti Allah put together. The killer herdsmen are the major problem, but sadly the Federal Government remains silent.
“There are reports that the Fulani herdsmen have, in the past five years, killed over 300 Yoruba people from different communities while several other people have been kidnapped with abductors paying several billions as ransom.”
Adams, however, warned the North to stay away from any attempt to cause mayhem in the South-West, hence, the situation could degenerate into further chaos that might affect the entire nation.
“The Fulani, in their conqueror agenda since 1818, have caused a lot of damage to the South-West, and it is clear that the south is their target, which is why anybody going against the Fulani herdsmen automatically becomes their enemy.”
OPC warns Presidency, Northern leaders
Meanwhile, Mr. Wasiu Afolabi, Deputy President to the late OPC Founder, Dr. Frederick Fasehun, in a statement noted that no Southerner would go to the North and carry out killing, kidnapping and banditry that Fulani criminals have unleashed on Southern communities and highways.
The statement read: “The ACF is threatening reprisals instead of telling its sons to halt their criminality. ACF should know that nobody has a monopoly of violence. Although the millions of law-abiding Fulani men and women living in our midst have absolutely no cause for alarm, those Fulani criminals hiding under the cloak of being herdsmen to perpetrate evil against law-abiding citizens should know their time is up. Henceforth, it will be fire for fire.
“We are fully prepared to help enforce Governor Akeredolu’s quit notice in Ondo State at the expiration of the deadline. Anybody found in the jungle will be regarded as a kidnapper and bandit and will be appropriately dealt with. We, Yoruba, shall rise up to defend our land from foreign marauders who daily rape our women, kill our farmers and kidnap fellow Nigerian citizens. Enough is enough.”
OPC also described the manhunt launched by the police for Igboho as misguided and provocative.
“The government must guarantee the life of Sunday Igboho. Rather than declare Sunday Adeyemo an outlaw, the Federal Government’s security agencies should turn their attention against criminal elements engaging in kidnappings and killings in the South.
“The Presidency’s opposition to Akeredolu’s order was divisive, provocative and ill-advised, as well as an insult to the country’s federalism and the separation of powers principle of the Constitution.
“In this Federation, one level of government will be overstepping its bounds by dictating to another level of government. The evil of kidnapping and killing being perpetrated by Nigerian Fulani and their foreign cousins can no longer be tolerated. This kid’s gloves treatment was how authorities encouraged Boko Haram to transform into a full-blown terrorist organisation that has made the North-East the most dangerous place to live in the world.
“Therefore, in line with Akeredolu’s directive as the Chief Security Officer of Ondo State, herdsmen, tourists and farmers alike must vacate forest reserves to enable security agents and vigilantes move in to smoke kidnappers out of their hiding places and restore sanity to the backwoods.
“We cannot fold our arms and wait to be wiped out of our fatherland by foreign elements. The Yoruba are peace-loving people with a great reputation for extending hospitality to visitors in order to produce mutually-beneficial advantages. But what we see today are invaders, murderers and parasites committed to snuffing the life out of their hosts. We can no longer tolerate them and we must reclaim not only our land but our peace from these children of Satan.
“Time has come for all Nigerians, especially the National Assembly, to compel the President to alter the security architecture to conform to the Federal Character principle of the Nigerian Constitution he swore to uphold. What obtains now is lopsided in favour of a section of the country and this is dangerous.”
Agbekoya back Akeredolu, Igboho eviction order
Also, the Agbekoya Farmers Society has thrown its weight behind the quit notice by Governor Akeredolu of Ondo State to Fulani herders inside the Ondo State forest reserves.
The association also warned that no harm must come to Sunday Adeyemo in Ibarapa Local Government Area of Oyo State.
A statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olatunji Bandele quoted the President-General of Agbekoya, Chief Kamorudeen Okikiola saying that Governor Akeredolu, as the chief security officer of his state, has the constitutional powers to protect the lives and property of the people of the Ondo state.
Chief Okikiola reiterated that the governor gave the order in view of the series of killings and kidnappings by the Fulani herdsmen and armed bandits that have claimed the lives of innocent sons and daughters of Ondo State.
Nothing must happen to Sunday Igboho in Ibarapa
Similarly, the association kicked against the Inspector-General of Police’s order to shoot, arrest, and bring Sunday Adeyemi Igboho to Abuja, describing the order as biased “because the armed Fulani herdsmen, kidnappers and bandits who have been kidnapping and killing innocent sons and daughters of Yoruba land have never been arrested and prosecuted since the inception of this administration.”
Okikiola said: “Agbekoya is against the arrest of our son, Sunday Adeyemi Igboho, who is defending his people, Ibarapa sons and daughters, from being killed by armed Fulani herdsmen, kidnappers and bandits. And if anything should happen to him, that will be the beginning of war between Yoruba and the Fulani herdsmen in South-West.”
FG portraying itself as ‘defender of Fulani herders’, says Falana
On his part, human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, lampooned the Federal Government for portraying itself as the “defender of herders” in the country.
Falana stated this while featuring on “The Platform”, a Television Continental (TVC) programme.
He said: “There is nothing strange whether you are talking of Benue or Ekiti state or whatever. The Federal Government has come in to defend herders, whether anti-grazing law or whatever. At the same time, the Federal Government does not defend the poor, the beggars, the destitute and others who are forcefully arrested and deported to their states of origin.
“The Federal Government does not bother because they belong to the flotsam and jetsam of the society. So, that is why people are wondering.
“The Federal Government is portraying itself as the defender of herders and it is not very good.”
“That shouldn’t have attracted any controversy. What one would have expected the Miyetti Allah group in Ondo State to do is to ensure that all their members are registered; no more, no less.”
Falana also urged the presidency and the Ondo government to ensure that the conflict between herders and farmers does not get out of hand.
“I think that the federal and Ondo state governments should ensure that this matter does not get out of hand, once the impression is being given that the state government is deporting herders.
While the federal government portraying itself as the defender of herders is not very good, the federal government must defend all Nigerians, and at the same time also ensure that the laws of the country are complied with.”
Help Akeredolu, other govs flush out criminal herders, M-Belt Forum tells FG
On its part, the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, called on the Federal Government to join hands with Governor Akeredolu and other state governors to flush out criminal herders to end the culture of lawlessness across the country.
In a statement by its President, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, the MBF said: “The attention of the Middle Belt Forum has been drawn to the storm of reactions over the quit notice issued by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State to criminal herders to either vacate the state forest reserves or face the full wrath of the law.
“We are also worried at the turn of events in the South-West and the order issued by the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, for the arrest of Mr Sunday Adeyemo, aka Igboho, over his alleged role in the violence that took place at the weekend in Oyo State.
“While we welcome the bold decision by the governor to protect lives and property of citizens threatened by the activities of bandits that have now found safe havens in forests, we are completely opposed to any action by the Federal Government to escalate the ongoing tension as demonstrated by the arrest order on Igboho.
“As the umbrella organization, representing ethnic nationalities in the Middle Belt region, the MBF is in total support of ridding Ondo State of bandits and criminal elements as contained in the ultimatum handed down on criminal herders by the governor.
“As the Chief Security Officer of Ondo State, Governor Akeredolu is rightly entitled to protect citizens that are now under constant siege by criminal elements.
“For those who insist that the quit order on criminal herders amounts to infringing the citizenship rights of Fulani, the Forum wishes to reiterate that Akeredolu’s quit order is to unregistered herders occupying the forests and involved in kidnappings and banditry.
“The MBF wishes to state that it is unacceptable for the Federal Government to interfere in the genuine efforts deployed by Governor Akeredolu to end the ceaseless abductions of peaceful citizens for ransom. “We find it inscrutable for the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to insist on defending criminals whose major preoccupation is unleashing violence and terror on peaceful communities.
“What the Federal Government should do now is to assist Akeredolu and other state governors to flush out these criminals and end the culture of lawlessness ripping across not only Ondo, but also other states where these outlaws have turned our nation’s forest reserves into safe harbors for their crimes.
“The Forum recalls that in the height of grisly killings and devastations that trailed many communities in Benue state, President Buhari had called on the people to return home and learn to live with their neighbours in peace.
“When neighbours decide to turn themselves into agents of terror on their fellow neighbours who are peace-loving, then, such neighbours are no longer neighbours but outlaws that must be arrested and be made to face the law.
“The MBF wishes to state that the only way to end these vicious assaults by these bandits is to completely flush them out of our nation’s forest reserves.
“We cannot continue to play the ostrich as Nigerian communities continue to suffer bloodshed due to increasing waves of vicious and unprovoked attacks on defenceless citizens by these vicious brigands.
“With many states, especially in the Middle Belt Region, now under the menace of these outlaws, we call for both the Federal Government and the states to adopt the policy of ranching as means of ending the security challenges posed by these criminal herders.
“We call on state governors to emulate Akeredolu’s quit order to cleanse Nigeria’s forest reserves of vicious brigands. In this modern age, noted for global best practices, the adoption of the policy of ranching has become an urgent and irrevocable option.
“We call on the Federal Government, especially the Police, to desist from escalating the crisis. What the Presidency and the Police ought to do now is to assist various states to flush out these criminals.
“Arresting Igboho at this moment can only escalate the growing tension into a raging fury that may further lead to dreadful uncertainties for our nation’s future.
“We stand in solidarity with Governor Akeredolu on his resolve to rid the forest reserves of bandits engaged in kidnappings and other crimes.
“We call on the Federal Government and other state governors to work in partnership and end the terror perpetrated by these bandits whose occupation of the country’s forest reserves have become present and future dangers to Nigeria as a nation.”
Rescind quit notice, compensate Fulani, AYCF tells Akeredolu
The National President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Alhaji Shettima Yerima, however, disagreed with the quit order Governor Akeredolu earlier gave the Fulani residing in his state, but insisted that compensation be given to those who fell victim of the attack on Fulani communities in the southwest state.
Yerima, who spoke in Kaduna on Sunday, said the quit notice order by Governor Akeredolu and subsequent attack and destruction of property in Oyo were not only worrisome but disturbing.
His words: “Let it be known that the constitution of Nigeria guarantees every Nigerian to live in any part of this country and is free to engage in any legitimate business of his or her choice, the Governor of Ondo State being a learned person, is expected to know better.
“AYCF will not support any group that engages in any form of criminality and such people should not be identified by their religion, tribe or ethnicity but should be treated as criminals.
“The subsequent attack that followed the quit notice in Oyo State is rather uncalled for and condemnable. The perpetrators must be brought to book and made to face the full wrath of the law. AYCF supports constitutional ways of every state protecting her citizens but quit notice should be out of it and must not be considered under any circumstance. Nigeria is an indivisible entity and whatever has the tendency like happenings in Ondo and Oyo must be discouraged in the interest of peaceful coexistence and one Nigeria.
“I call on the governments of Ondo and Oyo states to give peace a chance and rescind the quit notice order, while those, whose property were destroyed, should be compensated accordingly.”