The Federal Government, yesterday, received several knocks for the swift manner with which it responds to issues affecting Hausa/Fulani while a similar disposition is not shown towards worries and challenges faced by the majority of Nigerians.
The critics are particularly disturbed by the government’s taciturnity and alleged partisan disposition since allegations of criminal activities, including the destruction of farmlands were levelled against herdsmen operating from forest reserves in Oyo and Ondo states emerged.
However, following the alleged eviction of Fulani residing in Oyo State by aggrieved Yoruba youths, the apex northern socio-cultural group, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), yesterday, warned that counterattacks from northern youths could cause the country to slide into another civil war, hence the need for the ugly trend to be halted immediately.
But two socio-cultural groups in the South West, Afenifere and Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum, were quick to warn the Federal Government, and the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), that Nigerians will not continue to fold their arms and watch while suspected criminals and armed herdsmen rape, kill, and maim their kith and kin while the government pays lip service.
Also, a Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development (CNEPD), yesterday, condemned in strong terms the burning of the home, livestock, and cars of the Sarkin Fulani of Oyo State, Alhaji Saliu Abdulkadir, by persons allegedly instigated by a Yoruba ethnic rights activist, Sunday Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho.
On its part, civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), accused the retiring Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu of bias and double standards for ordering the arrest of Mr. Adeyemo, but refusing to order the arrest of the factional leader of Miyetti Allah Association, Bello Badejo, who has threatened to take over lands of communal ties across the country unlawfully.
In making its position known, the ACF in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, said it was worried by the incident in Oyo, and called on the Federal Government, and the Oyo State government to nip the ugly situation in the bud. Yawe, who recalled that the civil war in the 1960s started with attacks and counterattacks, stressed the need for the government does not allow such history to repeat itself. According to the forum’s secretary: “The Arewa Consultative Forum this morning received reports of an attack by Yoruba youths on Alhaji Saliu Abdulkadir, the Sarikin Fulani in Oyo State.
“In the reports, he was attacked and driven out of his house, eleven cars and his house burnt with his family members now living in the bush. There are allegations that one Sunday Igboho, an agitator for the Oodua Republic, who issued an ultimatum giving Fulani people seven days to leave Yoruba land is the instigator of the attack. “The most disturbing aspect of the attack is the allegation that the security agents who were earlier warned about its imminence stood by helplessly as the attack was carried out. “The ACF is worried about this trend and calls on the federal and state governments in the South West to move quickly to avert a social upheaval that may destabilise the whole country. We recall that the civil war in the 60’s started with attacks and counterattacks like this. The governments must be proactive and stop history from repeating itself. “Those who carried out these attacks must be apprehended and due process of the law allowed to take its course. If this is not done, there may be counter attacks in the north, and the country will be up in flames. The authorities must act. The ACF is very worried and calls on them to act fast,” the statement added.
THE Afenifere flayed ACF’s reaction over Friday’s clashes in Ibarapa Local Council of Oyo State occasioned by the inimical activities of herdsmen against indigenous Yoruba people, cautioned against taking south westerners for granted.
In a statement signed by its spokesman, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, Afenifere said: “While we have gone to a great length to sue for peace and have appealed to our pained people to be law-abiding even with the daily provocations of the Fulani and harassment of our people, we frown at the very arrogant and insulting ACF statement, especially their reference to the event of 1966.
“We must make it clear to them that they cannot threaten us with a war at this stage as we will not provoke war, but never are we going to run from anybody on our land.
“We are miffed that a body like ACF that has never shown any remorse over the killing of our people can open its mouths anyhow now because there are no consequences for the irresponsible actions of their people.
“We advise them to call their criminals to order and not expect our people to sheepishly wait to be killed by those, who value the lives of cows more than human beings,” the statement said,” adding, “we do not want a repeat of 1966 event, but if there are people plotting such event again, the rain will be over their heads.”
THE President, Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum, Mr. Akin Malaolu, in stating the position of the group said Yoruba people have the right to secure their communities whenever they are attacked by criminals, especially where necessary security agents failed to do the needful.
Even though the forum said that Mr. Sunday Adeyemo, who is currently leading the uprising against armed herdsmen in Oyo State, was not well known to the generality of our people until his recent emergence, it said that it was important that someone rises up to the challenge when people could seldom sleep with their two eyes closed.”
Malaolu recalled that the forum had earlier warned Nigerians, particularly southwesterners, to be watchful of criminal activities that were gaining ground in South West forest areas, including Kogi and Kwara states.
“We see the calling out of people of shady activities being done by Mr. Sunday Igboho without bearing of unlawful weapons as a good intervention. The security challenges, which the nation faces today are widespread, and since the APC government of President Muhammadu Buhari, has failed, other fair interventions become inevitable. The Presidency and governors must partner with the likes of Igboho to encourage community participation in security to improve security conditions in the South West, and all over Nigeria. Vilifying him through unnecessary threats is unreasonable.
“So far, the people have felt reassured that criminal activities can be stemmed if the required desire and energy are put to use, and that is exactly what Igboho is offering.
“As one of the leaders of thought in the South West, my advice is that the innocent are not punished, homesteads are not burnt, and peaceful Nigerians are assisted to remain in the South West to pursue their legitimate interests.”
PEEVED by the order to arrest Adeyemo handed the Oyo State Commissioner of Police, Mrs. Ngozi Onadeko, by the IGP, HURIWA accused the Federal Government of crass insensitivity and called for Miyetti Allah’s factional chief, Badejo’s arrest.
HURIWA in a statement, yesterday signed by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko said: “Maybe the IGP is lobbying for an extension of tenure and can do everything to please the powers that be that have unambiguously made it known that the Fulani ethnicity and Fulani herdsmen are sacred cows who are above the laws of the land.
“Otherwise, the IGP should also arrest one Bello Badejo, the National President of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, who says nobody can chase herdsmen away from the forest reserves in Ondo State. As we know, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), the governor of Ondo, ordered herders to vacate the forest reserves over rising insecurity in the state,” HURIWA said.
The rights group noted that as governor he is exercising lawful authority, but Badejo has threatened fire and brimstone, but Buhari who controls the police and all other security forces have seen nothing untoward, and unlawful with his violent tendencies just because Badejo is his crony even as he runs the administration like a pro-Fulani platform.
SEVERAL Yoruba groups, yesterday, cautioned the federal and Oyo State governments to be cautious in handling Chief Adeyemo, saying arresting him may escalate ethnic tension in the country.
They argued that if the Presidency had been forthcoming in arresting killer herdsmen, Adeyemo would not have been invited by Ibarapa people to protect them.
The Guardian gathered that security agencies are already on the trail of Adeyemo in connection with the eviction order and destruction of property belonging to the Fulani leader in Oyo State, Alhaji Saliu Abdulkadir in Igangan, on Friday.
Security sources confirmed to The Guardian, in Ibadan yesterday, that they have been instructed to arrest the activist who is now at large.
The Oyo State Chairman of Miyetti Allah, Alhaji Ibrahim Jiji, while speaking with journalists, in Ibadan, said the assaulted Fulani leader in the state must get justice, even as some of his followers have fled their homes and are now living in fear.
He urged Yoruba and Fulani residents to allow peace to reign in the state, saying: “We are all Nigerians. We must learn how to leave in peace … We appreciate and love the governor of Oyo State, Engr. Seyi Makinde for saying the truth. We need to join hands together to ensure that we have a peaceful society. Our people are not happy, and many of them are living in fear. Some have fled their abode.
“We want justice for Seriki Fulani. All those who perpetrated the evil must face the wrath of the law. They are not more powerful than the government. Who is Sunday Igboho and why is he more powerful than the government?
“I have said time without number that we have criminals among all the tribes in Nigeria Fulani inclusive. Those who are suffering the injustice now are not the criminals that they are hunting for. These are good people and not criminals. The government should do the needful to ensure that peace returns to the Ibarapa axis,” he said.
THE Yoruba Youth Socio-cultural Association (YYSA) through its President, Olalekan Hammed, expressed support for Adeyemo, and called on all Yoruba to support moves aimed at ensuring that Oyo State does not become another Benue State, which witnessed hell in the hands of herdsmen.
“It was Igangan people who believed that Operation Amotekun may not have the capacity to flush out bandits from amongst them on time that invited Adeyemo, who possesses the native power to assist them to secure their land.
“President Buhari’s body language is what is boosting criminal herders’ moral, and has already pushed the entire country into a state of anarchy.
The majority of people in Yoruba land have been calling on state governors; Aare Ona-kakanfo, Iba Gani Adams, and others for quick intervention, but their efforts were not enough until Sunday Igboho intervened.”
He warned the IGP against arresting Adeyemo because he didn’t ask peaceful herdsmen to leave Yoruba land, but only criminal elements. “We call on South West lawyers to rally round Mr. Adeyemo and prevent him from being embarrassed by the Federal Government.”
THE National Publicity Officer of Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) New Era, Adesina Akinpelu said Yoruba people have been good hosts to the Fulani, but will resist criminal acts from the herders.
Akinpelu added: “The Yoruba and OPC have what it takes to protect Yoruba land if the government fails to protect us and our property.”
But the Secretary-General of Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide, cautioned patriotic Nigerians, especially Yoruba leaders to be wary of the infiltration of forests by criminal elements, who “kill our women and men, kidnap for ransom on our land. Yes, we do not take any exception against Sunday Igboho, because we believe that self-preservation is the first law of nature. The level of tolerance of human beings differ, and if you are able to identify your attackers and the laws of the land are not taking care of them, and the government appears to have failed in its responsibility, citizens will definitely react when they are pushed to the wall. Those Fulani herdsmen have broken laws and nobody reacted to it.
“I don’t want to believe that Governor Makinde ordered Adeyemo’s arrest, probably he wants to have a discussion with him… On capacity for counter-invasion, we have more than enough capacity to protect ourselves, and our land in case of an invasion, or retaliation. We have more than enough capacity to withstand them.”
MEANWHILE, The Guardian reliably gathered that the Oyo State government delegation will carry out an on-the-spot assessment of the situation at Igangan and parts of Ibarapa axis, today.
The state police commissioner, Mrs. Onadeko would lead the police delegation, which would be joined by officers and men of the police tactical team deployed from Abuja.
The team will meet stakeholders and traditional rulers, assess the extent of damage, engage with youths, and calm frayed nerves.
While it was not very clear (as at press time) who would lead the government team, sources said Governor Makinde had already constituted a high-powered delegation made up of senior officials.
A full report of the Ibarapa situation will be made public by the government, and the police after the assessment tour, the source said, adding that the government team has been mandated to dissuade the stakeholders from unduly politicising the situation at hand, or fuelling ethnic tension, while Yoruba elders are wading in to ensure peace in the region and align positions on the way forward.