James Sowole in Akure
Herdsmen ran for their dear lives last Saturday in Ondo State when 36 cows were reportedly struck dead by thunder on top of a sacred hill at Ijare town in Ifedore Local Government Area (LGA) of the state.
The hill, which is known as “Oke Owa,” is located on the outskirt of the agrarian community. It was gathered that only the king of the town and some chiefs that normally visit the town once in a year during the celebration of the new yam festival to perform some rituals.
A native of the town, whose house was located on the way to the hilltop, told THISDAY that the repeated sounds of thunder that accompanied the evening rain made the community to suspect that something had happened.
The resident said nobody knew that the thunder had actually caused havoc until a hunter came in the morning and reported how he saw some dead cows on the hilltop during his hunting expedition.
The report of the hunter made the traditional ruler of the town, the Olujare of Ijare, Oba Adegbamigbe Oluwagbenigun, to delegate chiefs to visit the scene to assess what has happened and report the matter to the police.
The incident immediately turned the hill to a tourist center as people trooped to the hill to catch a glimpse of what happened.
There were 36 dead cows lying on the ground without any mark on their bodies when THISDAY got to the hilltop.
There were also indication that herdsmen were trying to settle on top of the hill as there was a shed under construction with tubers of yam and pepper on the ground.
The Olujare of Ijare who spoke to journalists through his second in command, Chief Wemimo Olaniran, the Sapetu of Ijare, attributed the incident to an act of God.
The Sapetu of Ijare said the herdsmen had been destroying their farmland for a very long time.
The high chief said that they were surprised when they heard five days ago that some Fulanis were ascending the sacred hill to settle after they had destroyed many farmlands and created fears in the minds of the people.
“We were there this morning and we saw about 36 cows dead apart from the one inside the bush. It has happened and there is nothing we can do. We regard it as the act of God which nobody can query.
“There have been occasions like that, but not as massive as we are having it now, to some individuals who desecrated the land. We have witnessed thunderbolt attack on people that desecrated any part of Ijare, particularly the sacrifice places, the grove.
“The dead cows will be there forever. It is part of the history in our land for people to see as testimony in future that such a thing happened. Even a whole Oba was buried there alive and heaven did not fall talk less of ordinary cows.
“Oke Owa is a sacred hill where the Oba and some of his chiefs visited once a year during new yam festival to offer sacrifices on behalf of the community.
“Even those chiefs accompanying the Oba must not go to the inner part of the hill because there is a particular place where only the Oba will enter and spend a night.
“This is a hill that the herdsmen wanted to desecrate with their herds. It is a taboo. When we heard about the incident, we invited the herdsmen and they confirmed that it was thunder that struck the cows.
“We went to the police station to report the matter and the Divisional Police Officer was contacted before chiefs including myself went there.
“Those cows would remain there and rotten because nobody must touch them otherwise there would be problem.”
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) for Ondo State Police Command, Mr. Femi Joseph, confirmed that the matter was reported at Ijare Police Station.
Joseph described the incident as a natural disaster that is unfortunate and which nobody can do anything about.