By Christie Doyin
The drum beat of war might have started or it might not have but it is pertinent that if care is not taken, the bubble will burst and the ill wind may not do anyone any good.
Believe me, it will certainly not be an issue between the Yoruba and the herdsmen alone, especially the herdsmen of Fulani extraction.
The imbroglio between farmers, other land owners in Nigeria and the herdsmen seems to have reached its crescendo and ready to snowball into a war that may exceed the already anticipated civil war but one that could become a regional war that involves Fulani from across Africa and not only with the Yoruba but one that could become the Fulani and other Nigerians war.
This is not farfetched because several reports are pointing to the infiltration of the nation by illegal foreign Fulani nomadic, who were suspected to have been brought in by politicians to oust the sitting government at a point in time and allegedly as a result of President Muhammad Buhari’s open declaration and policy on Fulani’s freedom to the country not too long ago.
An Ibadan-based politician and youth leader, Sunday Igboho recently issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Fulani community in Igangan, Ibarapa North Local Government area of Oyo state, over allegation that they are responsible for the rising insecurity and kidnapping in the area.
Igboho, who claimed he was miffed by the incessant kidnap, rape and wanton killing of his people, farmers, male and female by the herdsmen with the knowledge of their leader, gave the quit notice when he led some youths to the Sarkin Fulani of Igangan town, Alhaji Saliu Abdulkadir, to register their displeasure over the recent killings in the axis.
According to Igboho, some prominent indigenes of the town were recently killed by suspected herdsmen, led the youths that set fire on the abandoned cow market in the town, also accused the Fulani of being responsible for the crimes being perpetrated in the area.
In a video going viral on social media, Igboho told Sarkin Fulani that he gave him and his men (Fulani herders) seven days to leave the area or he will deal with them. “Alhaji, I am here to tell you that we are not pleased with the way your people are killing our people. I cannot continue to fold my arms when your people are killing my people. We hereby give you seven days to leave this place.
“What you have done in Yoruba land is enough, go back to your North. If you claim stubbornness and stay, you will have yourself to blame. I respect you by coming here to notify you but if you don’t respect yourself and decided to stay, you will see,” he threatened.
Igboho, who also visited the palace of the Asigangan of Igangan land, Oba Lasisi Olawuyi Adeoye, accused the king of “giving Yoruba land to Fulani”. The result of the ultimatum given has reportedly led to the killing of two farmers by suspected herdsmen, hours after Igboho left. The report had it that the skull of one of the victims, identified as Seun, was slit opened with machete by the suspected killers.
Watching the viral video, when Igboho went to Seriki, the first thing that came to mind was that there would be a reprisal, especially with the reaction of the young men around the Seriki and indeed, it came. Sunday Igboho’s house in Ibadan was razed and properties worth several millions of naira were lost to the inferno. Fingers are being pointed. However, I don’t think the reprisals and counter attacks will stop anytime soon. Rather, it can be considered as the footstool to the unleashing of terror and mayhem across the country.
Sadly, both the Federal and Oyo state Governments’ reactions to the issue at hand is to say the least, rather irresponsible and could lead to serious issues in the country. The matter, which if allowed to go on unchecked could lead to an undesirable war among the different ethnic groups, especially in this instance, when obvious contraption has been committed, just like some other incidences coming from different quarters.
However, contrary to narratives by the governments, the people of Ibarapa see Sunday Igboho as their hero, someone who is fighting to protect them and the Yoruba race. They noted in their Press Release signed by the Secretary, Abimbola Adeyeri thus: “Our attention has been drawn to the media publications on what transpired in Ibarapa land in the last one week leaving out the comprehensive details
of how we got to Friday, January 21, 2021, when the whole of Ibarapa land suddenly went agog with renewed strength of reclaiming their land”.
“The long-awaited ray of hope for liberation glimmered in the form of Chief Sunday Adeyemo Igboho, who led the Ibarapa people like the Biblical Moses through the Red sea.
“The statement of the Governor was not only absurd but a disrespect to a people who has no record of violence in the history of our nationhood. Some media reports on the directive of the Governor and the Inspector General of Police to arrest Chief Sunday Adeyemo then rubbed salt on our injury as a people”, they noted in reaction to the Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo state’s directive that Igboho should be arrested and President Muhammadu Buhari’s that he should be shot at sight.
They noted that, “Just like every Yoruba people, they gladly accept and accommodate visitors and strangers. A virtue that today has turned to be our greatest undoing. Having the pastoralists; the Fulanis have not been without pains, sorrows and tears over the years. The people are helpless, restless and despondent over the activities of some unscrupulous herdsmen and criminal gangs that have been kidnapping, killing and extorting money from helpless citizens through ransom payments.
For many years, farm plundering was the full-time business of the Fulani herders, growing audaciously in bounds even as the highest authorities and agents of government ensured no Fulani was prosecuted for offences they were caught committing. The obvious things to do when everything has collapsed is for people to resort to self-help”.
From the foregoing, the easiest thing to say is it is pathetic and that governments have failed the people, even in democracy. Not just failed now but seen to be supporting one ethnic over the other. Our governments seem to be nonchalant in crimes committed by these criminal elements to the detriment of a united and peaceful nation.
Issuance of such orders on Igboho as given by government will exacerbate an already charged situation and may lead to the undesirable trauma of war.
It is obvious that if care is not taken, another civil war is inevitable. This of course is not any of what Nigeria needs now.
The press release from the Oyo group also noted with dismay that “Only in Nigeria would Fulani herdsmen RAPE, MAIM and KILL mercilessly in their raid of farms and towns, and the IGP wouldn’t order the arrest of any.
“Yet, the few bold men who stood up to defend their communities are labelled CRIMINALS by their own Governor and the IGP declaring their arrest. The people had been crying for freedom for a long time with no one to help. Ibarapa land trooped out on Friday to welcome Sunday Igboho to execute the eviction order he gave to the Seriki Fulani of Oyo State seven days earlier only because the apparatus of government has failed woefully”.
What I believe irked the people, including other Nigerians elsewhere is the meeting the government held to interact with the herdsmen and security agencies. Their take is captured thus “Yorùbá Governors never sit with Afenifere, ,never sit with OPC, never sit with Agbekoya, never called Sunday igboho to find out what the grievances are; Never visit the victims of kidnapping in Igangan, Ibarapa etc, never compensate the victims of rapes and murder, never bother to secure them from killers herdsmen. When Afenifere conveys a meeting they will never show face
But quick to convey meetings with their lord and masters, miyyetti Allah at becks and calls, I thought they say charity begins at home?”
While I’m not a supporter of ethnic bias and or criminality, I want to say that the Nigeria Constitution, as flawed as it may seem has good and strong provisions to guide our activities. Fortunately, the right to freedom of movement and settlement do not permit a herder to constitutionally migrate from his part of the Country and unlawfully settle on another’s person’s land temporarily or permanently.
Right or wrong, the issue on ground now is not only a matter of Yoruba, Fulani/Bororo, it is a matter, especially of foreign and illegal Fulani herdsmen that infiltrated the country and are causing havoc across the nation. The local Fulani and Bororo men had lived in this country and there has never been violence or such crime as being witnessed now. Therefore, not just we but also the Federal and states Governments should do everything possible to stave off this crisis and stop beating the ethnicity drums before it becomes full blown war that will certainly not do the country and her people any good.
*Doyin writes from Ilorin via e-Mail:email@example.com
By Christie Doyin