…Says ‘I’ve always been a rich man’
…I gave Oba of Igangan a car to use until he bought one in 1994
…I lost eight cars, a house, 207 cows, poultry etc when they razed my place
…Nigerians should help me to survive
…As protests against killer Fulani herdsmen rock Kwara community
By Demola Akinyemi
Gerewu village, in the outskirt of Ilorin, the Kwara state capital is the ancestral home of Sarkin Fulani of Igangan community in Ibarapa Local Government Area of Oyo State.
Seriki Salihu AbdulKadir was sacked from Ibarapa last month by Yoruba freedom fighter, Mr Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho and his supporters. He was said to be providing cover and even assisted killer herdsmen in Ifangan.
Seriki AbdulKadir’s house, an unpainted, fenced and plastered bungalow building of three bedroom flat, was one of the few buildings in the community. The 78-year-old Sarkin Salihu AbdulKadir was surrounded by his wives and kinsmen discussing the misfortune that befell the family when Saturday Vanguard arrived.
Speaking in an interview with Demola Akinyemi, he said he was greatly troubled on the loss of his family members and property, which included 207 cows, sheep and local chickens among others that were still in Igangan which he had been trying to recover. He therefore appealed for assistance from well meaning Nigerians to make him survive. Saturday Vanguard sought out the old man to tell the story of the Ibarapa kidnapping saga and his root in Ilorin. Excerpts:
You are aware that tension has heightened in Kwara State since you relocated there while the residents are not convinced that you are from Ilorin as you claim, that you are only here to seek asylum
I am a bonafide indigene of Ilorin. My mother hailed from Baboko. My father was a herder who had his root at Abe-Emi in Ilorin, but because of the family’s occupation, my forebears relocated to Temidire in Asa Local Government Area. That was where I was born. My great-grandfather was born in Temidire, to tell you how long we have been in Temidire. Our exit from Temidire was occasioned by a fire outbreak in Kuho village.
I was ten years old then, but I remember the incident vividly. A man called Ajibade rode a bicycle to our ‘Gaa’ (settlement) in the wee hours of the morning to break the news of the fire incident. There would probably be some elders who would recall this incident. Typically of our occupation, we moved from this community and relocated to the Western State. We first settled in a place near Oyo but moved to Ibarapa with my father just after the Nigerian civil war. This was in the very early 70s. I have been in Igangan since that time.
Something positive happened to us shortly after we arrived in Igangan. This was at a time when the Federal Government created the Western State Grazing Reserve in the area. But it also brought the initial enmity between us and the community because they were of the view that government ceded the Grazing Reserve to us, the Fulanis. But I have never for once forgotten my Ilorin root since I became a man. I often come to Ilorin because I have my family here. I have sons who work in the Kwara State Civil Service as well as the Civil Defence. I built my house here in Ilorin some years back and I have never stopped coming home.
When was the last time you came to Ilorin?
I came home towards the end of the year 2020 and left in the first week of January. I have been playing my little part wherever there was a need. I remember your association, the Nigerian Union of Journalists in Kwara honoured me with an award of excellence for keeping the peace between the Fulanis and their neighbours in 2014 in Ibarapa and Igbo-ora.
This is apart from being the Seriki Fulani of Ibarapa. I must make a clarification that I was first the Seriki Fulani, Ibarapa before the monarchs in the area presented me to Alaafin of Oyo and that was when I was crowned as the Seriki Fulani of Oyo State. In fact, I was never Seriki Fulani of Igangan as people are saying, I was made the Mogaji of Igangan.
Can a Yoruba Oba crown a Fulani as Mogaji of his community?
I think he did it because of my contribution to the community, and I believe I did enough. I established the first cow market in Kara and it later became a major money spinner for the community. Its impact contributed to the economic growth of Igangan and its suburb.
But if you did all that you said you did, what brought about the issue of kidnapping and collection of ransom that you have been accused of?
I believe it had to do with a particular popular politician in that community. He had thugs who were also into kidnapping.
I reported this man to the police when it became apparent that the situation was getting out of hand. At that time, they kidnapped some Fulani men and demanded ransom. The kidnapped Fulanis were kept in their house and we started the process of negotiating the ransom. It was at the point of collecting the money that we arranged their arrest with the help of Fulani and Yoruba vigilante, including the police. As I speak with you, some of them are in Agodi Prison, in Ibadan today. Some are still with the police.
Did this happen in Igangan?
Yes, they are indigenes of Igangan.
Why are you being accused of helping the kidnappers to collect ransoms from families of the kidnapped victims?
They just want to tarnish my name. I was the one who reported so many acts of kidnapping. I reported both the Fulani and Yoruba kidnappers from the community. A recent case was the one that happened in a place called Lanlate. I helped the police to arrest the kidnappers of a victim whose husband was killed. The kidnapper is at Agodi Prison now. They just want to rope me in. You’ll recall that it was the popular politician in the community, (name withheld), who led Sunday Igboho to my house to give me a quit notice. I mentioned his touts to the police and they are presently in prison.
Their case had become a major issue between me and the politician in the community. These two guys had become so notorious in kidnapping that I had to report them several times to the police. They kidnapped and kept their victims in their house. It’s on record that the politician came to my house several times to beg that I should plead with the authorities to release his touts from prison. These are guys who killed at times. I can mention names of Fulanis that they had kidnapped and collected ransoms. It became a headache for me at a point because the community thought I was exposing their children.
You stated at the press conference that you suffered much loss. Can you tell us your loss in specific terms?
It was quite huge. They burnt eight vehicles in my house. Three of them belonged to me while my sons had four. There was also a pick-up vehicle that we were using to carry cows to the market. Among my cars were Venza, Lexus Jeep and Camry ‘Mussle’. I also lost the sum of N1.2m in cash burnt to ashes. All these are aside from my house which had separate four bedroom flats and the mosque within the house.
There was also a veterinary clinic built by government, which was also razed down. I lost 207 cows as well as my large poultry farm. This clothe (ash-coloured native Agbada) that I’m wearing is the only one that I have, which I was wearing when my children hurriedly took me away from Igangan during the attack, all my dresses have been burnt. Even to eat now is difficult, I’m therefore begging well meaning Nigerians to come to our aid. It’s obvious that I can’t recover all my 207 cows and other livestock scattered in the bush in Igangan. Two persons called me at different times on Tuesday to inform me that they saw two lorries loaded with cows being taken away by some people.”
Virtually all the vehicles you mentioned are choice cars. Could this be why the Igangan people believe that you collected ransoms or probably lived above your means?
I have always been rich by God’s grace with proceeds from my cow business. Ask anyone who knows about the community. When the Oba of Igangan was installed in 1994, I provided all the cows that they used for the event. I gave them seven cows, precisely. He used my car for a long time before he bought one. This was in 1994. I’ve long been comfortable, even as Fulani man in a rural community.
There is apprehension in Kwara State. It was reported recently that nine trailer loads of Fulanis were sighted in the Southern part of Kwara in just one day just because you have relocated to the state. How do you allay the fear of Kwara residents that the State will not witness the Igangan saga?
I don’t see any need for fear or apprehension. All that happened to me in Igangan were mere envy and backlash of my role on the issue of kidnapping in the area. I have never been a criminal and will never be. The Igangan people can never hold me down to a crime. Six of my children are graduates, who are all doing well. I have one who is in Oversea. I have been living in Igangan for 50 years and God has been kind to me.
My fortune did not come suddenly now, it grew over the years. I have never gone to the police station to secure bail for any of my children, I have been recognized for awards and special recognition by different bodies within the communities. The large number of Fulanis in the state today is an aftermath of the Ibarapa incident as you have said but not in the way people are looking at it. The ultimatum given to the Fulanis by Sunday Igboho and his group was also extended to other Fulanis around the area. Many of them, like me are migrants from Ilorin, I’m aware that many left because I left. What I want people to know is that when you are pursued from outside, you take refuge in your home. That is what I’ve done in Ilorin. (Bi ita ba le’ni, ile la a sa’wa ni wiwa ti mo wa)
Kwara residents reject invasion of sacked Fulani from Igangan
Kwara state is not new to cases of attack of Fulani herdsmen, but since the attack on Alhaji Salihu AbdulKadir, Sarkin Fulani of Igangan community and his kinsmen in Igangan, in Ibarapa Local Government Area of Oyo state and his relocation to Ilorin, his hometown, the entire Kwara state, particularly the southern part of the state of harmony has been on edge.
Last Monday, scores of residents of Igbaja land in Ifelodun Local Government Area of Kwara state staged a peaceful protest to the palace of the traditional ruler of the ancient town, the Elesee of Igbaja on the alleged atrocities by criminal herdsmen. The head of Fulani in Igbaja, Mallam Abubakar Garba, in an interview with journalists confirmed that the accusations were indeed true, and implored the people to be patient, saying deliberate efforts were being made to address the matter. The residents accused the criminal herdsmen in the Ifelodun communities of killing, stealing and destruction of their farms.
One of the affected residents, Alhaji Abdulyekeen Ajibade, said that the criminal herders had repeatedly attacked the indigenes of the area, narrating how they invaded their farm lands to feed their cows.
Another resident, Mr Ajibola Ibrahim, said farmers in the community always recorded losses after investing a lot of money on their farming business due to activities of the herdsmen.
In her own contribution, Alhaja Kudirat Abdulqodir, while expressing sadness on the issue, said the criminal herdsmen raped women in the community, describing such act as inhuman.
At the Elesee palace, where monarchs in Ifelodun Local Government Area were having their meeting, the monarchs acknowledged the patience of their people and urged them to be more prayerful, while assuring them that there would soon be solution to the problem.
The head of Fulani in Igbaja, Mallam Abubakar Garba, who confirmed the accusations against his people expressed his sadness over the security situation in the communities, calling for dialogue to ensure amicable resolution.
In the same vein, the Igbomina Professionals Association (IPA) an umbrella body of all professionals in the southern part of the state in a statement issued by its national president and public relations officer Mr Bayo Atoyebi and Mr Kunle Akogun respectively, the association expressed their rejection of Fulani in Igbomina land.
According to the statement,”the reported influx of Fulani herdsmen, recently expelled from some South West towns, into Igbomina land in Kwara State calls for serious concern. Going by stories surrounding the activities of these people in their areas of former abode, the Igbomina Professionals Association (IPA) hereby rejects in totality their relocation to our area and illegal occupation of the lands on which they are currently erecting their new homes.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Fulanis have lived with us for ages without much fuss until recently when the criminal variants of the herders joined the fray. We are particularly alarmed that those currently settling on Igbomina land are the same ones that were sent out of Oyo State on account of their criminal activities targeted at their hosts.
“Not only do they kill, kidnap, maim and rape members of their host communities, they also let their cattle loose to eat up and destroy their farm crops! No reasonable host, no matter how accommodating, would allow known criminals into his vicinity, going by the antecedents of the guests. Anything to the contrary would amount to deliberately sitting on a keg of gun powder.
“This is why we are calling on all Igbomina stakeholders to be on red alert, as no part of our land should be ceded to these arms bearing herdsmen. Now is the time to be extra-vigilant and inter-communal cooperation in this regard is needed now more than ever before.
“Our traditional rulers, in particular, should eschew the temptation to collude with the invaders while also resisting any attempt from any quarters to cajole them into ceding any inch of Igbominaland to any suspicious guests.
“The issue at stake is not about religion! In fact, these marauders are no respecter of religion, as they often unleash their aggression on anybody perceived to be against their destructive pastoral interests regardless of the person’s religious affiliation. So, we must not allow religious sentiments to creep into this matter, as we must confront the marauders as one indivisible Igbomina people.
“We appreciate the assurance by the state government that security of lives and properties of the people remains its top priority. However, we strongly feel that security matter is a very serious matter and there should be no lip service or politicking about it. Government should therefore walk the talk about securing the lives and properties of the citizenry.
“We also call on the security agencies to up their ante and double their surveillance activities in all nooks and crannies of the state and Igbominaland in particular, to ensure adequate security of lives and properties of our peace loving people. Any suspicious movement should be promptly tackled without fear or favour. For, it is better and cheaper to nip crime in the bud!”
Meanwhile, Kwara state government has urged members of the public to go about their lawful business in peace and to live in harmony with one another, saying measures have been put in place to prevent any crisis between host communities and herders in the state.
A statement by the Secretary to the State Government Prof Mamman Sabbah Jubril said, “in the light of some unfortunate developments in some neighbouring states, we urge our people not to entertain any fear as proactive measures have been, and are still being taken to maintain peace and ensure security of lives and properties of every resident. The government is working with all the security agencies, directors of personnel management (DPMs) and the leadership of Miyetti Allah to strengthen the existing peace between various economic interests,”
“At the instance of the Governor of Kwara State, the Office of the SSG has held briefings with various stakeholders across the state on the need to ensure that all hands are on deck to protect lives and properties. The leadership of Miyetti Allah has also committed to disallow night grazing or cattle grazing by underage persons. Assisted by the security agencies, the DPMs across the 16 local government areas have been directed to work with local communities and legitimate herders to keep the peace. We therefore urge everyone to key into this peace building process and to avoid taking laws into their own hands or engage in activities that can undermine peaceful coexistence”.