By Dayo Johnson & Dapo Akinrefon
Reports across the South-West states have shown that the insecurity level occasioned by the activities of herdsmen has reached threatening point.
The situation is now being likened to an existential threat by most stakeholders in the region.
Villages are being attacked at will by herdsmen without response from security agencies.
No one is safe as the herdsmen, not only murder people in remote but kidnap travellers in the region.
The traditional institution in some villages, seems threatened, as the herdsmen have become audcious to the extent of threatening monarchs in their palaces.
Concerned by this, various Yoruba groups, elders and leaders during the week lampooned the lackadaisical attitude of the Federal Government towards the invasion and unprovoked attacks by herdsmen across the country especially in the South-West.
The Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, Afenifere, Agbekoya Farmers’ Association, Soludero Hunters Association, the South- West Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the All Progressives Congress, APC, were among those who expressed misgivings about the nefarious activities of herdsmen particularly in the South-West.
The groups also expressed worry over the herdsmen’s incursion in the region, submitting that the region is under siege.
Firing the first salvo was the YCE which advised the Presidency to check the killing spree of the herders across the country, especially in Yorubaland, to prevent people from resorting to self-defence and anarchy.
The Yoruba elders who described the herdsmen as untouchables, listed many instances when the bandits kidnapped and killed innocent people without any justifiable reason.
YCE, in a statement by its President, Col. S. Ade Agbede (retd), said: “As Yoruba elders and leaders in our own rights, we owe it a duty to speak up.”
He was, however, quick to disclose that 1,123 cells belonging to armed herdsmen are located across Yoruba nation.
“The cells are said to be well organised and they are said to appear to network with each other as the cells may not be known except that there have been increase in their organisational skills,” Agbede said.
Also, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the South-West raised alarm that the region is under siege by herdsmen who perpetrate crime on a daily basis in the most unfettered manner.
On its part, the Agbekoya Farmers’ Society said it will not fold its arms while killings, rape and kidnappings go on unabated by herdsmen.
President-General of Agbeokya, 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, abductions and kidnappings in the South-West of the country.”
Also lending its voice to the worrying state of insecurity in the region, the PDP in the South-West said: “It is absurd and inexcusable for us to be under siege in our own nation.”
A statement by the party’s Zonal Publicity Secretary in Akure, Mr. Ayo Fadaka said: “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 remain unchecked, this lethargy has emboldened them to even attack a traditional ruler in his palace, without repercussions, thus egregiously making a bold statement that we, the Yoruba, have become their captives.”
Not wanting to be caught unawares, Afenifere has asked Yoruba in the South-West to activate their traditional and communal self-defense system in the face of existential threats and killings by the herdsmen militia.
The Yoruba group said: “The killings across the country by the herdsmen/militia are willful and deliberate in pursuit of their expansionist and conquest agenda.”
The hunters in the region were also not left behind as they vowed not to sit by and watch the unprovoked attacks by the herders on travellers and other people in the zone.
Coordinator of Hunters in the South-West, who also doubles as the President, Soludero Hunters Association, Dr Nureni Ajijola Anabi said he and thousands of his members would liaise with the Agbekoya Association and other conventional security agencies to ensure that criminals have no hiding place in the state.
For instance, in Akure, Ondo State, Vanguard has lost count on the number of kidnappings, ritual killings and other criminal activities carried out by the herdsmen.
Health officers in Federal Government hospitals, including a pregnant doctor, traditional rulers, regents, lecturers, school children, civil servants, and a host of other personalities have been victims of kidnapping and banditry across the state.
Herdsmen threaten monarch
Last week, the height of criminality in the state played out as the life of a traditional ruler in the state, the Onigedegede of Gedegede in Akoko North-West Council of the state, Oba Walidu Sanni was threatened by nine herdsmen who walked into his palace unhindered.
Oba Sanni raised the alarm at a stakeholders parley initiated by the state government to douse tension and apprehension in the council area over the activities of the herdsmen.
The ‘sin’ of the traditional ruler was that he reported the continued destruction of his subjects’ farm produce and farmlands to the police.
The timely intervention of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, who deployed security operatives to the town, doused tension and prevented a bloody clash between the herdsmen and the people of the community after they invaded the monarch’s palace and threatened him.
Also, two wedding guests, Gbalaja Mayowa and Arifayan Ayolekan and a staff of Dangote Group of Companies, Ibrahim Lawal were last week abducted in Ikare Akoko area of the state.
They regained their freedom after parting with a N5 million ransom.
Also in Ibadan, Oyo State, suspected herdsmen killed the Officer-in-charge of the Special Anti Robbery Squad in Saki Area of the Oyo State Police Command, Sheu Magu, and a member of his team.
The deceased were said to have died as a result of machete injuries sustained in the hands of the herdsmen during an operation in a forest around Saki-Ogboro.
It was however, reported that the SARS men had arrested some suspected Fulani herdsmen for disturbing public peace but they were ambushed by another group of herdsmen.
Similarly in Ogun State, herdsmen attacked some communities in Ketu Local Council Development Area.
Narrating the incident in a statement, the Coordinator-General and Director of Public Affairs of Ketu Advancement Forum, Kunle Abiose and Williams Olayode respectively said the herders invaded “our farms, hewing down palm trees for their herds to graze on.”
Besides, pandemonium reportedly broke out in Iwoye community, in the Imeko-Afon Local Government Area of Ogun State when suspected herdsmen and farmers clashed.
Four persons were feared dead in the incident as further findings showed that the Divisional Crime Officer in charge of Imeko and a police inspector were shot in one of the attacks.
Monarchs decry insecurity level
Reacting to the insecurity in the state, the
Owaale of Ikare, Oba Kolapo Adegbite-Adedoyin said the killings justified the clarion call for state police.
Oba Adedoyin said: “There are many advantages of state policing, known as community policing in some societies. A policeman ought to know the nook and cranny of his society as well as the people of the area.
“So, if you bring someone from Kaura Namoda or Port Harcourt who doesn’t know the terrain of this area or even speak the language, policing effectively would be difficult for such a person.
“In the western world, police don’t have settlements, they live among the people, they know who criminals are within but here, they fence an area and call it police barracks. How will officers know the terrain of the community they are policing?
“Although some people are of the opinion that politicians may abuse their usage, or misuse them, especially for election purposes, but one has to weigh the advantages vis a viz the disadvantages.”
Also, the Deji of Akureland, Oba Aladelusi Aladetoyinbo said: “The security in the South-West is assuming a dangerous direction. It is highly disturbing and calls for urgent and proactive approach.
“It is a fact that the issue of kidnapping was strange in the South-West in the past, now, it has suddenly turned out to be a lucrative crime in the region.
“You are aware that some traditional rulers in Ondo State have been victims of kidnap at one point on the other. This is sacrilegious and ridiculous.
“I have continuously advocated for community policing. We can’t afford to centralise the security system and expect better performance. That will remain a tall order.
“The traditional rulers should be given a definite role and be involved in the security arrangement. It is very important if we must get out of this threatening situation. There are ways through which we can contribute effectively to stemming the tides of insecurity.
“We cannot sweep the issue of restructuring under the carpet. It is very pivotal to a secured, equitable and just society.”
S’West govs should liaise with OPC — Oba Olanipekun
Also, the Zaki of Arigidi Akoko in Akoko Nort-West area of the state, Oba Yisa Olanipekun has called on governors in the South-West to liaise with members of Oodua Peoples’ Congress, OPC, and give them orientation and incentives that can make them police our roads, communities and forests against herdsmen invasion and other criminality now ravaging the zone.”
Security situation in the South-West — Ondo APC
The State Publicity Secretary of the ruling APC, Alex Kalejaye said: “The security situation in the South-West, and indeed, the entire country, is worrisome to say the least. People need to feel secured to give their best to a system.
“We feel strongly that it is about time we worked out the right strategy to nip the dangerous trend in the bud, instead of dwelling on who was wrong.”
View All Posts By Tony →
Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.
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