- Says all nationalities must keep Nigeria united Ogun to enforce anti-landgrabbing law on rampaging herdsmen
Gboyega Akinsanmi in Lagos and Femi Ogbonnikan in Abeokuta
The Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) wednesday asked all governors in the South-west to end the rising spate of Fulani herdsmen attacks in the region, noting that their undue silence would not promote peace and security.
The ARG, a pan-Yoruba socio-political think-tank, emphasised the need to ensure the unity of Nigeria, though claimed that the responsibility to keep it united lied more on all nationalities that comprise Nigeria.
These were contained in a statement its National Chairman, Hon. Olawale Oshun, issued yesterday, urging all elected officials in the region “to wake up to their responsibilities. To do otherwise is to court historical and electoral disaster.”
Suspected Fulani herdsmen had on Tuesday chased out workers at the Akure South Local Government secretariat. The incident happened following a disagreement by the herdsmen and workers in the area.
The Osun State Government had last week lamented the persistent attacks by herdsmen that forced farmers in the state to abandon their farms, saying such posed threats to food security as well as security of lives, especially in rural areas.
Also in Ekiti, Ogun and Oyo States, the activities of herdsmen had at different times cost lives; wreaked havoc on farmers’ settlements and inflicted varying degrees of injury on some farmers in the states.
Disturbed by the trend of herdsmen attacks in the South-west, yesterday, the ARG lamented that the Yoruba governors and their governments had failed to respond decisively to the menace of herdsmen attacks.
Two months ago, the group claimed that it had cause “to alert all the Yoruba governors and their governments on the need to be proactive to the Fulani herdsmen’s potential to overrun parts of the Southwest 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.
“Now that the birds have come home to roost with real attacks in at least three of the states, it is hoped that our governors would see the need to be prepared to prevent further unwarranted attack on our people by a terrorist group though widely disclaimed by the nationality they belong to but emboldened by the callous indifference of those who have the power to intervene.”
The ARG specifically said the citizens of Nigeria “desire a united country. It is the responsibility of all nationalities that comprise Nigeria to keep it united. While we share in that responsibility, we as Yoruba must be conscious of our responsibility to ourselves and to the country.”
It therefore, urged all elected officials – governors, senators, federal lawmakers, state lawmakers and local government chairmen – in the South-west “to wake up to their responsibilities. To do otherwise is to court historical and electoral disaster.”
The group noted that all Yoruba governors should now come together “to find a lasting solution to the marauding herdsmen. They are now causing mayhem in Ekiti, Ondo and Ogun States. We need not wait until they overrun all our territories before waking from our slumber.”
Meanwhile, the Ogun State Government has reiterated its commitments to address the threats posed by the frequent clashes between farmers and herdsmen, which occur mostly in Yewa North Local Government Area of the state, by strengthening its anti-land grabbing law.
The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Taiwo Adeoluwa, disclosed this yesterday after the security council meeting with the service chiefs in the state.
According to him, the state has sufficient provisions in the law to deal with issue of the rampaging herdsmen and land grabbers.
Adeoluwa said this was part of the decisions reached at the security council meeting which had the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Yetunde Onanuga superintending, as the governor, while Senator 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.
He said the challenges posed by the farmers and herdsmen clashes has become a real national issue and Ogun State, was not isolated from the clashes.
He, however, noted that some of the clashes have been exaggerated by the media, bordering on the realm of sensationalism.
While he appealed to media to exercise caution in their reportage of the farmers-herdsmen 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 have been huge reductions in violent crimes such armed robbery, kidnapping and cultism.
He further explained that it has become worrisome that apart from communities in Yewa North, the farmers-herdsmen clashes had also been experienced in Obafemi-Owode, Ijebu-Ode, and Odeda Local Government Areas of the state respectively.
He explained that while the state would accommodate anyone from any part of the country and even beyond, but said they must respect the rules and laws of the land.
He 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 rove from place to place and there are trans-border pasturalists.
“The challenge of farmers/herdsmen clashes is real, it is national, and Ogun State, is not left out. Yewa North is the hardest hit. Some areas like Obafemi-Owode, Ijebu-Ode and Odeda Local Government Areas.
“The council decided that everybody is welcome but we insist that our laws be respected and obeyed.
“We already had the extant laws in place, which can tackle the challenge of farmers-herdsmen clashes in the state. We will strengthened the Anti-land grabbing law. There are enough provisions in that law to deal with the rampaging herdsmen.”
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 pasturalists, farmers, and security agencies.
Adeoluwa who said the government also discussed the issue of compensation where there were genuine cases of losses, added that the council had ordered the Baales to conduct headcount in their various communities in order to capture residents and strangers in their midst.
Besides, he also said the state government would assist the security agencies in the area of technical intelligence.
Security chiefs in attendance at the meeting were state Comptroller of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammed Harande, state Director, Department of State Service (DSS) Alade Bankole, and Commander, 35 Artillery Brigade, Alamala, Abeokuta, Brig. Gen. Basil Adonkie.
Others were the state Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Iliyasu, Commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Olusola Ayodele and Commander, Vigilante Service of Ogun State, Soji Ganzalo.