The Afenifere Renewal Group has called on governors in the South-West to urgently devise plans to check the killer herdsmen on the rampage across the country before their activities engulf the geopolitical zone.
This is just as the Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, declared support for the call by Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, for an organised resistance against the killer herdsmen.
In a statement on Wednesday by the group’s National Chairman, Mr. Olawale Oshun, the ARG said it was vital for the governors to wake up to their responsibilities, adding that to do otherwise would be tantamount to courting historical and electoral disaster.
It stated, “Yoruba governors must now come together to find a lasting solution to the marauding herdsmen. They are now causing mayhem in Ekiti, Ondo and Ogun states and we need not wait until they overrun all our territories before waking from our slumber.
“Two months ago, we had cause to alert all the Yoruba governors and their state governments to the need to be proactive to the Fulani herdsmen’s potential to overrun parts of the South-West in the purported but false search for food for their cattle.
“We had in seeking that our governors pay attention to the unfolding herdsmen drama been worried by their silence, a silence that in many quarters of Yorubaland is now interpreted as self-serving and cowardly.”
According to the ARG, now that the chickens have come home to roost with real attacks in at least three of the South-West states, it is hoped that the governors will see the need to be prepared to prevent further unwarranted attacks on their people by “a terrorist group which though widely disclaimed by the nationality they belong to but emboldened by the callous indifference of those who have the power to intervene.’’
Noting that as Nigerians with a desire to keep the country united, the group said it was the responsibility of all nationalities comprising Nigeria to keep it united.
Also, Fayose has called on governors in all states affected by the herdsmen menace to adopt Soyinka’s suggestion to protect their citizens.
Fayose, according to a statement on Wednesday, by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, said he was particularly happy that notable leaders in the country, especially Soyinka heeded his call for all men of good conscience to speak up against the wanton killings of Nigerians by herdsmen, who were acting more like terrorists.
Fayose stated that his state would further strengthen the local hunters by formally bringing them together under the Ekiti State Hunters Association and equipping them to protect our people and their sources of livelihood.
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The governor, who pointed out that the herdsmen’s menace had become a major security and economic threat to the country, added that it was clear that the Federal Government was not ready to do anything to stop the killings of Nigerians and invasion of people’s farms by herdsmen.
He said, “What Nigeria is witnessing now is pure criminality. It is terrorism in the name of cattle rearing and anyone defending the killing of fellow Nigerians and destruction of farmlands is an enemy of this country.
“If our people have decided to embrace farming, how do we reconcile a situation where their farms are either being destroyed by cows or cruelly set ablaze by supposed herdsmen?
“Today, in many parts of the country, people are even afraid to go to the farm for fear of being killed by supposed herdsmen. How do we promote agriculture under this kind of situation?
“Therefore, I salute the courage of Prof. Soyinka for speaking out, though late, but it is better late than never. Those armed herdsmen are nothing but another form of Boko Haram insurgents and they must be treated as such.”
Meanwhile, the Deji of Akure Kingdom, Oba Aladelusi Aladetoyinbo, has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to caution the herdsmen who carry out attacks in Ondo State.
The monarch expressed his displeasure over the attack of the Fulani herdsmen on the secretariat of the Akure South Local Government Area of the state on Tuesday where the herders chased out the workers of the council.
In a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the monarch, Mr. Michael Adeyeye, on Wednesday, Oba Aladetoyinbo urged the President to find a solution to the incessant attacks of the herdsmen on the farmers in some parts of the country.
The statement partly read, “Oba Aladetoyinbo wishes to describe the invasion (of the secretariat) as barbaric, provocative and an attempt to stir up trouble in the peaceful city of Akure. The monarch wondered why the herdsmen would have chosen to lead their cattle to graze on the farmland belonging to the council if not an attempt to create a crisis in the town. The herdsmen went as far as injuring workers of the council who had made frantic efforts to prevent the wanton destruction carried out on the farm.
“It is sad to say that no major arrest or prosecution had been made by the police since the attack on Chief Olu Falae’s farm, now the arsonists who parade themselves as herdsmen now target the local government (secretariat) as their next port of call.
Oba Aladetoyinbo also appealed to the state Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, the Ondo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Gbenga Adeyanju, and all other security agencies in the state to take proactive measures to curb the menace.
Also, the Ogun State Government said it would address the challenge of the farmers/herdsmen clashes, by strengthening its anti-land grabbing law.
The Secretary to the State Government, Taiwo Adeoluwa, disclosed this on Wednesday after the security council meeting with the service chiefs in the state.
He said the law had sufficient provisions to deal with the issue of the rampaging herdsmen and land grabbers.
Adeoluwa said this was part of the decisions reached at the security council meeting which was presided over by the deputy governor, Mrs. Yetunde Onanuga, as the governor, Ibikunle Amosun, was said to be unavoidably absent.
The state House of Assembly had last year passed the anti-land grabbing law tagged, ‘Prohibition of Forcible Occupation of Landed Properties Law, 2016’ which prescribes 25 years imprisonment for any violator and death sentence where there is loss of lives.
Adeoluwa said the challenge of farmers/herdsmen’s clashes had become a real national issue and Ogun State was not isolated from the clashes.
He, however, argued that some of the clashes, had been exaggerated by the media, bordering on the realm of sensationalism.
While he appealed to the media to exercise restraint in their reportage of the farmers/herdsmen’s clashes, Adeoluwa commended the Federal Government for its efforts at curbing the excesses of the rampaging herdsmen.
While reviewing the security situation in the state, Adeoluwa said there had been huge reductions in violent crimes such as armed robbery, kidnapping and cultism.
He further explained that it had become worrisome that apart from communities in Yewa North, the farmers/herdsmen’s clashes had also been experienced in the Obafemi- Owode, Ijebu- Ode, and Odeda Local Government Areas of the state.
He explained that while the state would accommodate anyone from any part of the country and even beyond, they must respect the laws of the land.
Adeoluwa said, “The herdsmen are in three categories. There are settlers. These ones were born in those communities and they live among the people, we have the ‘Bororos’ who move from place to place and are trans-border pastoralists.
“The challenge of farmers/herdsmen’s clashes is real, it is national, and Ogun State, is not left out. Yewa North is the hardest hit.
He added that the government would also empower the Conflict Resolution Committee, which was created in 2012, to address the challenge. He said the committee consisted of pastoralists, farmers, and security agencies.
In a related development, the Anambra State Government said it had banned bush burning in the state.
Governor Willie Obiano announced this when he visited a 30-hectare sorghum farm at Igbariam, Anambra East Local Government Area that was set on fire by unknown persons.
Obiano reminded the public that bush burning was against the state environmental laws; warning that relevant agencies had been instructed to arrest and prosecute anyone caught flouting the law.
The governor said those behind the fire incident that gutted over 30 hectares of sorghum farm at the Delfarm Songhai Farms would be brought to book.
He said government would launch an investigation into the immediate and remote causes of the incident.