Daud Olatunji, Wale Oyewale and Olufemi Olaniyi
The Onimeko of Imeko, Oba Benjamin Olanite, has raised the alarm that arms and ammunitions are being imported into Ogun State.
The monarch, who spoke during a stakeholders’ meeting in Abeokuta on Tuesday, which was attended by some northern governors, said the whole of Yewaland had been infiltrated with arms and ammunition.
He said the development had exposed people living in the area to serious attacks by armed herdsmen.
He lamented that farmers in the area had suffered huge losses, which might not be recoverable on time except they got help from the government.
He also observed that the forest reserve in Imeko had become habitation for criminals and urged the government to put the 600-square-metre reserve into use to avoid further abuse.
Oba Olanite said, “There are lots of things happenings in the Yewa axis. We have been living with some groups of Fulani in peace.
“There is now a lot of infiltration of some people we don’t understand their language. They have been coming with a lot of arms ammunition. Recently, they slaughtered a man and when we called his phone number, the people who talked to us were Fulani; they said the owner of the phone had gone to Al-Qiyama (heaven).
“A lot of ammunition has been brought into Imeko. In Yewaland, we are living in fear. We cannot sleep with our two eyes closed. These people have bombarded Yewaland with machine guns.”
In his remarks, Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, said the essence of the stakeholders’ meeting was to find lasting solutions to the recent happenings concerning the coexistence of farmers and herders in the state.
He lamented that the issue had become worrisome that people, who had co-existed peacefully for years, were suddenly at each others’ throat on account of sources of livelihood.
According to him, from time immemorial, herders and farmers have peacefully cohabited and have continued to find joint solutions to their mutual challenges, while occasional frictions and misunderstandings are sorted out amicably.
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Kano State Governor, Abdullah Ganduje, asked the Economic Community of West African States to see the clashes between herders and farmers as its problem.
Ganduje, who explained the various types of Fulani in the country and beyond, said the Fulani were everywhere in the world.
The Kano governor, who warned against scratching the issues on the surface, stated that the lasting solution was for ECOWAS to either register the Fulani coming into Nigeria or prevent them from entering.
Other governors in attendance at the meeting were Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State; Chairman, Northern Governors’ Forum and Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello; Abubakar Bagudu (Kebbi); and Bello Matawalle (Zamfara).
The governors spoke one after the other and suggested the way out of the incessant clashes between farmers and herders in the state.
Ganduje added that the movement of herders and their animals by trekking from the northern part of the country to the southern part must be stopped.
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He stated, “If we need peace with the farmers and we are not led by sentiments, herding must change from the traditional to commercial herding.
“It must translate to commercial, not traditional; those days are gone and I know some members of the Miyetti Allah may not be happy with my statement, but I have to make it; I’m a Fulani man like them.
“It is economic issues that are turning into tribal and religious issues. So, if we spend the whole day talking about the tribal issues and the religious issues, that will not solve the problems.
“The Federal Government also should assist so that they graduate into modern animal husbandry. That is the crux of the issue.”
Both the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, who is the Chairman of the state Traditional Council, and the Olu of Ilaro, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, called for serious steps towards solving the problems.
In Ibadan, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State hosted his counterparts from Niger, Sani Bello; Zamfara, Matawalle; Kebbi, Abubakar Bagudu; and Kano, Ganduje of Kano. They later held a town hall meeting with the Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba communities in Shasha, Ibadan, where a clash on Friday led to the loss of lives and the destruction of the market and other property.
During the meeting, which lasted about two hours, participants reviewed the origin of the crisis, which escalated on Friday and left casualties and destruction in its trail on both sides.
Noting that the two ethnic groups had co-existed mutually for several years without serious faceoff of the current magnitude, the governors linked the crisis to lack of understanding.
Makinde reminded the gathering that the two ethnic groups had fused together by social and economic reasons, saying, “Our people have inter-married.”
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Bagudu, who lamented the clash, promised that the northern governors would give necessary support to Makinde in restoring normalcy and restoring the lost property.
He said, “The Nigeria Governors’ Forum will also support him (Makinde) to ensure that those who have lost their livelihoods are supported in this trying period.
“As we speak, it is certain that some people are afraid about what will happen, so it is on us to ensure that we communicate properly so that those who are living in fear, whether in Ibadan or in other states, will not be in fear that there will be reprisal.
“Know that the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, President Muhammadu Buhari and the security agencies are working hard to ensure that we treat things for what they are.
“Incidences are bound to happen; sometimes, they are exploited by miscreants in the society to loot, to steal and to cause mayhem, and part of what has happened in Ibadan has to do with that. Just like we saw during the #EndSARS riots, but we are glad that reasons are prevailing and people are calming down and encouraging us.
“So, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum calls on all those, whose communities are in fear, to send their community leaders to the Government House in Ibadan so that the governor will know, so that he can send teams to ensure that those fears are addressed.”
Afenifere group condemns Shasha crisis
Meanwhile, the Afenifere Egbe Ilosiwaju Yoruba has condemned the recent breakdown of law and order, which led to loss of lives and properties as well as a loss of trust and a sense of community among the hitherto peaceful residents of Shasha.
The acting National Leader of the group, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, described the incident as one major security breach too many, observing that no patriotic Nigerian could feel comfortable in the face of the ominous signs that had unfortunately been allowed mission to persist unabated nationwide for too long.
In a statement by the National Secretary of the group, Mr Bayo Aina, the elder statesman observed that the time had come for all those, who sincerely love Nigeria and desire its continued peaceful existence as a corporate body, particularly those constitutionally mandated to maintain peace and order, to put heads together quickly and find a just, equitable and lasting solution to the recurring breaches of peace and security nationwide.
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