Deus ex machina Sunday Igboho

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If you agree with scientists who say nature abhors vacuum, you will appreciate the emergence of Sunday “Igboho” Adeyemo in the cause of halting the assault, raping, maiming, kidnapping and killing of indigenes of South-West Nigeria by elements believed to be of Fulani extraction.

Those who wondered how Iba Gani Adams became a candidate, and was installed Ààre Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland by Alaafin of Oyó, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, will likely wonder how Sunday Igboho is emerging as the answer to the vacancy of state action against the marauders.

In a recent Op-ed, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, Special Adviser on Political Matters to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), describes Sunday Igboho as a political enforcer, which some say is an undisguised and unnecessary euphemism for a political thug.

Sunday Igboho may well be the deus ex machina in resolving the impasse in the herdsmen rampage against Nigerian citizens. Deus ex machina is an unexpected device that resolves a seemingly hopeless situation in a literary drama or novel.

The abandonment of cattle herding for wanton criminal, but more lucrative, business of kidnapping, coupled with government failure to effectively tame the monster, has awakened a sense of indignation from everyone in practically all geopolitical zones of Nigeria.

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The people of Igangan are particularly riled by the hacking to death of Dr. Fatai Aborode, when he went to complain to the leadership of the Fulani community in Igangan that the cattle of his men ate up his farm crops.

Igboho’s first visit to Igangan, to ask  Sarkin Fulani of Oyó State, Saliu Abdulkadir, to lead his men out of Igangan, and his second visit, to enforce the evacuation, led to a government visitation that should have long taken place, to assure the people of their safety.

Oyó State Commissioner of Police, Ngozi Onadeko, Special Adviser to Oyó State Governor on Security Matters, Fatai Owoseni, a former police commissioner, and Oba Francis Àlàó, Olugbon of Orile Igbon, who is Deputy Chairman of Oyó  State Council of Obas, had to visit Igangan.

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At the meeting, residents of Igangan revealed that they had paid ransom in excess of N50m. They also alleged that Sarkin Abdulkadir was involved in negotiations, collection and delivery of ransoms.

Fulani leaders, present at the meeting, asked for forgiveness. This suggests admission of guilt, contrary to the hostile rhetoric of the Fulani elite going about media houses to deny the deed, and the Fulani Nationalist Movement that is reported to be beating drums of war.

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But before the visit of the government delegation on Sunday, January 24, 2021, Igboho had made good his promise to return to Igangan on Friday, January 22: Vehicles and houses, said to belong to Sarkin Abdulkadir and others, were reportedly destroyed.

This destructive enterprise, that needn’t have occurred had government at all levels been more proactive, curiously elicited a belated apology from two Sarkin Fulani in Oyó  State, Idris Abubakar of Igbo Ora, and Sule Mohammed of Eruwa.

Whereas Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, Chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum, ordered Fulani herdsmen to vacate Ondo State Government Reserved Forests, upon which they had encroached, Oyó  State Governor Seyi Makinde instead ordered the arrest of Igboho who sought to draw attention to the alleged transgressions against the indigenes of Igangan and other parts of Oyó  North.

Akeredolu had complained, “These felons had turned our forests into hideouts for keeping victims of kidnapping, negotiating for ransoms and carrying out other criminal activities.”

Those who continue to claim that governors are the chief security officers of their states must discontinue the lie. The President is Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria’s Armed Forces, and Chairman of National Defence Council, National Security Council and Nigeria Police Council, and exercises the prerogative to appoint service chiefs and state police commissioners.

READ ALSO: I’m not interested in becoming Amotekun head —Sunday Igboho

In disagreeing with the intention of the Inspector General of Police to arrest Igboho, as long as he does not commit a crime, one might add, the Middle Belt Forum of Nigeria’s North-Central geopolitical zone made the following demand:

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“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 has become present and future dangers to Nigeria as a nation.”

The MBF added: “(We are) in total support of ridding Ondo State of bandits and criminal elements as contained in the ultimatum handed down by the Governor… Governor Akeredolu is rightly entitled to protect citizens that are now under siege by criminal elements.”

The MBF knows, firsthand, the trauma that marauding herders can cause. The experience of the people of Nigeria’s North-Central geopolitical zone in 2018 was gruesome. Worse is that the Federal Government didn’t adroitly act to mitigate the mayhem.

In a statement credited to its Deputy President, Wasiu  Afolabi, the Oodua People’s Congress promises that “Those… criminals hiding under the cloak of herdsmen to perpetrate evil against law abiding citizens should know that their time is up. Henceforth, it will be fire for fire.”

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They gave the undertaking, “We are preparing to help enforce Governor Akeredolu’s quit notice in Ondo State at the expiration of the two-week deadline. We, the Yoruba, shall rise up to defend our land from foreign marauders who daily rape our women, kill our farmers and kidnap Nigerian citizens.”

It appears as if Amotekun, the security agency of South-West states, is decidedly avoiding involvement in the whole saga. Maybe to avoid being accused of acting as defenders of an ethnic agenda.

Some Nigerians ask, “When will the IGP order (the) arrest of herdsmen (who are) terrorising the good people of Yorubaland?” They observed that “Being selective in enforcing law and order is inimical to our collective coexistence.”

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However, social activist and lawyer, Femi Falana, sounds a note of caution that not all kidnappers, armed robbers and ritual killers are Fulani. He submits that indeed most of these criminals are of Southern Nigerian origin.

He therefore suggests, “We must stop tracing the ethnic orientation or religion of criminals. When criminals are arrested anywhere in our country, we must insist that justice must be done no matter where they come from, no matter their religion.”

READ ALSO: Soldiers escort herdsmen to Ogun villages, flogged Obas, others for rejecting herders

Anyone who has any sense of justice and fairness cannot but endorse this opinion. There are good and bad people in every tribe, race, and religion of the world. Blindfolded Lady Justice must be even-handed in the delivery of justice.

Government must handle the Sunday Igboho matter with care so that the kind of unrest that greeted the Russian government second incarceration of returnee opposition politician, Alexey Navaly, does not rock Southwestern Nigerian streets, at the least. Tempers are coalescing along ethnic lines.

A meeting, held Monday, January 25, to find common grounds between Governor Akeredolu and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria was expanded to include some members of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum.

The meeting resolved, inter alia, that night grazing, underage herders, and free range grazing must stop; occupation of Forest Reserves by anyone is illegal; MACBAN should commit to modern breeding methods by ranching; and a Standing Committee of farmers, herders and the state government should be established for continuous engagements.

If this permanently douses the embers of ethnic conflicts, you could say all is well that ends well.

– Twitter @lekansote

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