James Sowole in Akure
Armed vigilante groups alleged to be Fulani herdsmen bearing the identity cards issued by the Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACABAN) were spotted mounting check points in Akoko area of Ondo State.
A human rights activist and lawyer, Dr. Kayode Ajulo, was said to have seen and accosted the arm-bearing herdsmen in a picture that circulated on the social media.
He said that the herdsmen revealed that they were working in cooperation with the police.
However, the Ondo State Police Command has denied being aware of any armed vigilante group with Myetti Allah’s identity card.
According to the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ondo State Command, Mr. Femi Joseph, the command was only aware that there were some unarmed local vigilante groups working with Divisional Police Officers in the state and promised that the command would investigate the matter properly.
In its reaction to the development, the Ondo State Government has disowned the armed vigilante group carrying the identity card bearing Myetti Allah, according to a statement signed by the state’s Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Donald Ojogo.
The state government also directed security agencies to get to the root of the matter and apprehend any such person or group of persons operating in that manner.
Ojogo, in the statement confirmed that some Hausa/Fulani men were engaged to work with some security agencies in the wake of incessant kidnapping in the Akoko area of the state.
“The Ondo State Government observes with concern trending pictures of identity card carrying men identified as Fulani vigilante in the Akoko area of the state.
“Various claims have been made as regards the activities, duties as well as supposed mandate of these men in question.
“It is pertinent to recall that at the height of the incessant kidnap cases, the Ondo State Government took some far reaching drastic measure which included a marching order to the law abiding Hausa/Fulani leadership in the area to fish out criminal elements among them who took advantage of the rosy relationship between the indigenes and their law-abiding guests.
“As a measure to curb, and possibly stamp out cases of kidnap in the area, the Hausa /Fulani leadership was directed to select a handful of trusted men amongst them who could serve as tour guards in the thick forest as security agencies prepared to comb the forests. This measure yielded results.
“However, it is important to note that while the government appreciates the efforts of those who volunteered to provide information and served as tour guards to the security agencies in the ongoing operations in the area, it will not tolerate any unathourised move by any group to take an undue advantage of the current state of insecurity in the country.”