By Dapo Akinrefon
Chief Kamorudeen Okikiola is the President-General of Agbekoya Farmers Association. In this interview, he opines that marauding herdsmen perpetuating crime in the South-West have godfathers, who purchase arms and ammunition for them.
He also states that his group will wade off every expansionist tendency of the killer herdsmen. He speaks on other burning issues affecting the South-West. Excerpts:
You recently raised the alarm that criminal herdsmen have begun guerilla warfare in the South-West. What informed your remarks?
Some factors, events and incidents informed my remarks especially the spate of kidnappings and killings of farmers and innocent Yoruba sons and daughters by Fulani criminal herdsmen and bandits. Over 4,000 farmers and innocent citizens have been killed in the South-West since the year 2015, without any arrest and prosecution.
Kidnapping and killings of people by criminal Fulani herdsmen continue unabated without any positive and responsive steps taken by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to curb the nefarious activities of the armed criminal Fulani herdsmen.
President Buhari and his aides have not spoken concerning all the criminal activities of the armed Fulani herdsmen and bandits until eviction and quit notices, with an ultimatum, were given to Fulani herdsmen by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State and the Yoruba human rights activist, Sunday Igboho in Ibarapa area of Oyo State.
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Another factor that informed my remarks is the influx of Fulani criminal herdsmen and the amount of ammunition and weapons, like AK47, being smuggled by these criminals into the South-West. I am amazed that not much has been done to arrest the godfathers who are financially responsible for the purchase of ammunition and weapons because I am sure that the Fulani criminal herdsmen are not the ones financing the purchase of these weapons.
Gradually and subtly, the history of Fulani’s expansionist tendencies towards the South-West is being reenacted and Agbekoya and other Yoruba nation stakeholders are aware of these tendencies. These expansionist tendencies will be seriously rebuffed with everything that it takes if these senseless kidnappings and killings are not stopped. In most of the villages and towns in Yoruba land, our farmers have deserted their farms and people cannot move about freely to conduct their business activities because of the fear of being kidnapped and killed.
Criminal Fulani herdsmen now lay ambush on our people on highways in towns, cities and footpaths in villages. These are signs of guerrilla warfare.
What do you think is responsible for the influx of criminal herdsmen in the South West?
The high level of poverty, children out of school and insincerity of leadership in the Northern part of the country have been responsible for the influx of criminal herdsmen in the South-West. The criminal Fulani herdsmen believe that once they can smuggle themselves to the South-West, they will get a place to stay with their Fulani kinsmen.
And once they can get a place to stay, they will start mingling with the people of the community under the pretense that they are herdsmen. They now begin to wander about with other herdsmen with cattle studying the community environment and before the community and the traditional rulers could know what is happening, they would have formed a gang of kidnappers and bandits, committing rapes, kidnapping and killing their victims who cannot afford to pay the ransom they are asking for.
Even those who could pay were also killed for one reason or the other. Another reason is that our land borders are very porous and unscrupulous security agents connive with them, once their sponsors offer them money. There is also free and cheaper food for cattle in the South-West because of our climate. The Fulani herdsmen move around the cattle for free green grasses, and in the process, the animals eat and destroy the crops of our farmers.
Do you think Amotekun operatives in the states can flush out criminal herdsmen in South West?
The Amotekun operatives alone cannot flush out the criminal Fulani herdsmen in the Southwest. The insecurity situation in the South-West, as it is today, calls for a concerted effort from all the security stakeholders like Agbekoya, OPC, the hunters, vigilante group, the Nigeria Civil Defense Corps, and the government security agencies.
The management of Amotekun needs to reinforce and intensify the intelligence reporting system of their operations in such a way that on daily basis, information about security situations in all the nooks and crannies of the states are reported for analysis and for prompt actions to be taken.
And the six states need to create a kind of synergy and networking in their operations to complement each other. Amotekun, as a security outfit, is yet to grapple with the enormous task of securing lives and properties in the states because the organization is faced with inadequate personnel, funding, logistics network, and ineffective intelligence reporting system.
Do you support the strategy being adopted by Mr. Sunday Adeyemo also known as Sunday Igboho in his quest to flush out criminal herdsmen from the South West?
I support the strategy adopted by Sunday Igboho even though we all need to rally around him to perfect the strategy.
He has taken the bull by the horn and has sent the signal to Federal Government that enough is enough and that we, Yoruba, at home and abroad are not ready to condone the criminal activities of the Fulani herdsmen in the Southwest.
Sunday Igboho has awakened every son and daughter of Yoruba land especially our traditional rulers who have been trading with the lives and properties of their people and the political class, who are politicizing insecurities in Southwest.
I want to use this medium to inform him that the Agbekoya Farmers Society, the first farmers’ group in Nigeria since 1938, is solidly behind him and we are already intensifying our efforts and strategies to flush out criminal Fulani herdsmen from the Southwest.
Agbekoya security operatives are already in most of the forests day and night and around the land borders in Yoruba land to monitor the activities of criminal Fulani herdsmen. I am also calling on our traditional rulers, politicians and South-West Governors to support Sunday Igboho because he is fighting a just cause.
You recently disclosed that your group has begun a manhunt for the killer herdsmen kingpin, known as Mahmoud Waziri and his men, who terrorise farmers and residents in Ibarapa Local Government Area of Oyo State. How did you arrive at this?
We, farmers, are the most affected by criminal activities of the armed Fulani herdsmen and marauders and you cannot expect us as a farmers group to fold our arms when our farmers are being killed and our wives and daughters are being raped by criminal Fulani herdsmen, kidnappers and bandits. The insecurity situation in the South-West is no more a joke and we are not ready to take it lightly with anybody who is the kingpin of these criminal Fulani herdsmen.
The security agencies have failed us and we can no more tolerate the way these criminal Fulani herdsmen kill our farmers and rape our wives and daughters with impunity.
The President and his aides are not talking, but they could talk when we gave eviction and quit order to the criminal Fulani herdsmen. Whether anybody likes it or not, we are seriously looking for all the kingpins of the criminal Fulani herdsmen and their men all over South-West and when we get them, we are going to announce to the whole world and then hand them over to security agencies.
Do you think some Yoruba leaders are colluding with these criminal herdsmen to perpetuating crimes in the South West?
I don’t think some Yoruba leaders are colluding with these criminal herdsmen to perpetrate crimes in the South-West. It is only a bastard and a sick Yoruba leader that will be colluding with criminals to kill his people.
Agbekoya is watching and monitoring all our Yoruba leaders. We have placed curses on those traitor Yoruba leaders, their wives, children and they will die mysteriously. But I also want to add that some Yoruba leaders can collude with these criminal Fulani herdsmen, after all, we have seen some traditional rulers supporting and protecting these criminals because of money, even some politicians have refused to talk because of their political ambitions. Agbekoya is seriously warning you all because the day of judgement is very near.
Your association has vowed to launch a full-scale war against Fulani armed herdsmen, kidnappers and bandits if they are not nipped in the bud. How do you intend to go about this?
Yes, my group has vowed to launch a full-scale war against armed Fulani herdsmen, kidnappers and bandits if they are not nipped in the bud. We are keeping our strategy to ourselves, but you will be surprised that one day, the criminal Fulani herdsmen will just fizzle out like smoke from Southwest. I am using this medium to call on President Muhammad Buhari, the Northern Governors, political leaders, traditional rulers from the North to take urgent and bold steps to stop the nefarious activities of these criminal Fulani herdsmen, kidnappers and bandits in the interest of all and sundry.