Yoruba leaders protest attack by Fulani herdsmen
The leaders, including President of the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Gen. Adeyinka Adebayo (rtd), Sir Olanihun Ajayi, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Idowu Sofola, founder of Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) Dr. Frederick Fasehun, Bishop Ayo Ladigbolu, Prof. Banji Akintoye, Prof. Adetoun Ogunseye and Dr. Kunle Olajide frowned at the recent abduction of elder statesman and former Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief Olu Falae, allegedly by Fulani herdsmen, saying it is unacceptable to Yoruba race.
In a statement issued at the end of the emergency summit held at the parliament building within the Oyo State secretariat complex, the Yoruba leaders demanded an end to grazing in Yorubaland and directed all nomadic herdsmen to wind up their activities.
They warned that failure to adhere may lead to a break down of law and order as they would firmly resist the herdsmen.
In the statement read to reporters by Olajide, who is the chairman planning committee, the group also called for immediate arrest and trial of culprits involved not only in the abduction of Falae but in the killing and torture of others on their farmlands by these unscrupulous elements.
Reminding that the incessant invasion of farmlands by these Fulani herdsmen and subsequent killing of farmers are part of the flawed federal system, the Yoruba leaders restated call for true federalism and restructuring of the nation to enable each region develop at its own pace.
The statement reads in part: “Yoruba leaders of thought, both at home and in the diaspora, had an emergency summit in response to the clear and present danger to the continued existence of our people. After an extensive and inclusive debate on the threat to our survival, especially after the unprovoked, unwarranted, mindless and serial attacks on the economic rights of our people by the Fulani cattle rearers which has led to loss of precious lives, rape and criminal abduction of our people for ransom, the following resolutions were adopted:
• Despite the non-aggressive disposition of Yoruba people, we have been victims of violent violations from our hostile neighbours from pre-colonial days to modern times, from the 18th century, the Fulani jihadists onslaught against the Yoruba race through the travails of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, through the June 12 saga with the latest wars declared on our people. We have always risen above boards as we strive to make our neighbours see the need to deal with ourselves in justice and fairness not because we are cowards but because God created us to fight only as a last resort.
• We have since the amalgamation of Nigeria gone to any part of the country to live and work, respecting our hosts and posing no threats to them because our fathers say when you are in the city of lepers, you have to toe with meekness.
•Memories of our illustrious sons and daughters who became sacrificial lambs in the cause of this aggression against us over the years such as Adekunle Fajuyi, Bashorun M.K.O Abiola, Kudirat Abiola, Lai Balogun, Alfred Rewane and countless of our people by forces of the late General Sani Abacha are still fresh. Despite the untold injustices meted out to us over the years, we remain the only one out of the numerous tribes that has never questioned the corporate existence of Nigeria,
• The recent abduction of Falae was sequel to the running battles he has had with these Fulani herdsmen who had at various times invaded his farmland and destroyed his farm produce.
The return of the herdsmen is a declaration of war on the Yoruba race, the abduction of Falae is a continuation of attacks which these herdsmen have unleashed on our people over the years. They violated and killed our women, a newly wedded lady was also raped recently in Oke Ogun area of Oyo State by these herdsmen. The countless reports are in police record. The Nigeria law enforcement agents have shown that they cannot protect our people, given the plethora of reports made to them, therefore, given the gravity of the situation and unwillingness of the Nigeria state to put an end to this siege and also because we cannot afford to leave our people at the mercy of violence of these herdsmen who came to destroy their economic rights and also kill them, we demand immediate end to lawless cattle razing in Yorubaland and ask all those who want to engage in cattle business to do animal husbandry, to establish ranches, our people are no longer prepared to allow further encroachment on our farmlands.”
Governor Abiola Ajimobi, in his address expressed regrets over Falae’s predicament but appealed to the people not to take laws into their hands. He warned that our simplicity as a nation should not be taken for granted. “We are all Nigerians, regardless of tribe and differences. The fight is not between the North and the South but legality against illegality.”
Ajimobi urged Yoruba people to remain law abiding in the midst of provocation, saying the time has come to address the issue and ensure peaceful coexistence between the various ethnic groups.
The governor also implored law enforcement agents to rise and find ways of curbing violence and unrest in the zone.
Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, in his address, lamented that Nigeria is not yet a federal state and restated call for true federalism.
Mimiko who was represented by the Commissioner for Environment, Sola Ebiseni, said a situation where a governor cannot appoint commissioner of police in his state is unacceptable. He warned that unless a solution is found to the incessant incursion to farmlands by the Fulani herdsmen, peace may continue to elude the land.
He said: “ It is not a matter of revenge but the truth is there cannot be peace between the farmers and herdsmen unless a permanent solution is preferred. Those who must rear cattle must keep ranchies within their territory. The solution is not to preach peace but the problems must be addressed so that it does not constitute menace to farmers.”
Gen. Adebayo, in his remarks, said the Yoruba have had enough and must close ranks to fight this cause.
The YCE chief said Yoruba have always been at the forefront and must not be relegated to the background in the scheme of things. “Our actions have continually pulled us back as a race, we need to close ranks and fight for our common good.”