Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
Tension raged in Ipao Ekiti in Ikole Local Government Area of Ekiti State on Wednesday night, as some local hunters engaged Fulani herdsmen in a shootout over attempts to dislodge the cattle rearers from their land.
Two persons were last year May 20 killed and several wounded by suspected gun-wielding herdsmen over alleged plan to take over a portion of the land in Oke Ako, a neighbouring town to Ipao.
The development culminated in the enactment of the anti-grazing law by Governor Ayodele Fayose-led government, which pegged grazing time to between 6a.m. and 6p.m.
A source from the community confirmed to journalists in Ado Ekiti that tension started brewing in the sleepy community since two weeks ago when some “overzealous” youths resisted some Fulani herdsmen from grazing in the town.
Trouble reached a feverish pitch on Wednesday’s night when some irate youths went into the bush and started firing gunshots to scare away the herdsmen and their cattle, leading to a serious gun duel. The herdsmen and their cattle were said to have scampered in different direction to nearby towns to seek refuge.
A resident in the town, who craved anonymity, said the youths had been growing uncontrollable and insisted on the herdsmen leaving the town.
He said the herdsmen also returned the fire with a superior fire power to push the hunters back while fleeing to safety.
To prevent the matter from escalating, the Local Government Chairman was said to have quickly summoned an emergency meeting yesterday between the elders and youths in the town.
When contacted, the Councilor for Oke-Ako/Ipao/Irele, Mr. Olusegun Kehinde, confirmed that an expanded meeting had been called for Friday.
“The situation is under control. We have summoned a meeting among all the stakeholders including the herdsmen for Friday. We have appealed
to our people to maintain peace and thank God, so far, there is no loss of lives of human and cows.
“Our people are suspicious of the herdsmen because of the kind of arms some of them are carrying: that is why they are resisting them. We are ensuring that the farmers, hunters and the herdsmen live together in peace because we are all one. But we must live and operate within the law of the land.”
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Alberto Adeyemi, said he had not received such briefing from the Area Commander and the Divisional Police Officer.
He said his men were on ground to attend to emergencies, adding that police hot lines had been circulated among residents in the town for possible contact.
Adeyemi added that there was nothing to indicate tension in the town as the police were alive to their responsibilities.