Business is no longer as usual between the Yoruba farmers and Fulani herders in Ondo State. They are no longer at ease with one another as the conflict among them is becoming too incessant. BABATOPE OKEOWO reports
There have been conflicts between Fulani herdsmen in the state particularly in the four Akoko areas in the Ondo North Senatorial district, leaving casualties on both sides. The Local Governments included Akoko Northeast, Akoko Northwest, Akoko Southeast and Akoko Southwest.
For instance, in Arigidi-Akoko in Akoko Northwest Local Government, a farmer, Bayode Ajayi, was said to have killed a Fulani herdsman that came to graze in his farm in the rustic community.
Ajayi was said to have killed one herdsman, Abubakar Alidu, during a disagreement between the farmer and some herdsmen. The people of the town, according to sources, are afraid that Fulani herdsmen could come for a reprisal attack on the town following the killing of their kinsman.
Narrating how the killing took place, a source said a fight occurred between some Fulani herdsmen and Bayode as cows allegedly destroyed the plants on the suspect’s farm. The source said:“A hot argument ensued between them on the farm. This led to a fight and the deceased and his colleagues attacked the farmer with machetes. To defend himself, he (suspect) brought out his gun and shot the herdsman.” The suspect is facing trial for murder.
The attacks and the kidnapping in the area made concerned Akoko traditional chiefs to ask the government to come to their aid and prevent the loss of lives, properties and farmlands in the hands of the marauding Fulani herdsmen.
Worried by the incessant conflicts between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in the four Akoko Local Government Areas of Ondo State, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has intervened in the dispute between the two groups in order to douse the mounting tension in the communities. He summoned the two groups for a meeting at the governor’s office.
Akeredolu, who met with representatives of Hausa/Fulani and traditional rulers from Akokoland at the Cocoa Conference Hall of the governor’s office in Akure, the state capital, urged the two groups to always respect the sanctity of life and stop killing one another as a way to resolving their differences.
At the meeting were traditional rulers from Akokoland led by the State Chairman of Council of Obas and Olukare of Ikare, Oba Akadiri Momoh; Olubaka of Oka, Oba Adecori Adeleye; Onikun of Ikun, Oba Michael Olokunbola Adedoyin; Gbiri of Epimin, Oba Oyekan George; Akala of Ikaram, Oba A.O Momodu and Olubaramu of Ibaramu, Oba R.O Atibioke.
On their part, Sarkin Hausa Ikare, Alhaji Halidu Muhammed, led the Hausa/Fulani community and Alhaji Taufiyo Fulani. The meeting was summoned by the governor following reported cases of clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the Akokoland of the state.
The Traditional Chiefs including Olu Ogunsusi, the Olode Agbede of Ikare, Adejoro Olamomiara and Samuel Ayodele Ojo called on President Muhammadu Buhari to order immediate disarmament of the Fulani herdsmen as done in the Niger Delta Region where there was no high bloodletting as being experienced in Nigeria today.
The chiefs also said the Nigerian Army and the Police should be given the go-ahead to shoot at sight anyone carrying an unauthorized weapon. In addition, the Ondo State Commissioner of Police and the Commander of 32 Brigade Akure should know the porosity of Akoko land which shares boundaries with Ekiti, Kogi and Edo states to re-enforce their men and intensify their patrol in Akoko land.
But the governor asked the Fulani and farmers to cultivate the culture of reporting their grievances to the security agencies for appropriate actions, rather than taking laws into their hands. While stressing that no life or tribe is superior to the other, Akeredolu recalled that Yoruba and Fulani had been living peacefully as one in the state for more than 200 years. He condemned recurring attacks on farmers and kidnapping linked with suspected Fulani herdsmen in Ondo State.
“Yoruba, Hausa/Fulani are one; the Igbo are not superior to one another. So, let us respect the sanctity of life. Report to the police if you are aggrieved and let the security agencies arrest suspects for interrogation and prosecution,” the governor urged.
Akeredolu, however, assured Fulani herdsmen and farmers that, with the involvement of the police, adequate compensation would be paid by anyone who destroyed another man’s property, be it cattle or farms. The governor also asked the Fulani herdsmen to cooperate with the police to fish out the kidnappers among them.
This was just as some traditional rulers at the meeting, especially the Alauga of Auga Akoko, Oba Samuel Kehinde Agunloye, and the Oluyani of Iyani, Oba Joel Sunday Daudu, shared what they described as their harrowing experience in the hands of Fulani herdsmen.
The monarchs urged the state government and the security agencies to do more in the area of security in the Akokoland. They urged robust and peaceful understanding among their host communities.
The Hausa/Fulani leaders on their part, said they were born in Akokoland, saying they had nowhere to call their home except Ondo State. They, however, promised to abide by the rules and culture of their host communities.
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