Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
Fulani Herders under the aegis of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), has denied that members were behind the flag hoisted at Orin Ekiti, in Ido Osi local government area of Ekiti State with sinister motive to annex a portion of land belonging to the town for cattle rearing .
The head of Miyetti Allah in Ido/ Osi council, Alhaji Adamu Abashe , spoke in Ado Ekiti yesterday during a consultative forum between Orin community and herders resident in Ido /Orin axis to resolve the lingering crisis between the cattle rearers and some aggrieved farmers .
The community, had last year raised the alarm over alleged intention to forcefully take over its land by people suspected to be Fulani herders, alleging that the flag hoisted by the herders was a signal that the land had been secretly appropriated for grazing.
Debunking the claim that Fulani herders popularly called Bororo were responsible, Abashe said: “We didn’t know how the flags got there. We were not responsible.
“We have lived in Orin Ekiti for over 30 years. we have been living together peacefully. When I was kidnapped, I did not say Orin people were responsible, because we are brothers. It was after my kidnap that the kidnappers came to kill a Tiv woman in that farmstead.
“When they kidnapped my labourer, I paid N300,000 as ransom and I didn’t say Orin people were behind it. I was not happy with the killings and destruction in Orin. So, we are not planning evil for these people that had lived peacefully with us”
Abashe added that those perpetrating trouble in the area were herders from other states and not those resident in the area.
“Those perpetrating killings and destruction of farmlands in Orin are outsiders but with efforts coming from government, Orin community and Fulani people, all these issues will be resolved.
“Orin people are not my enemies but the bandits roaming in the town caused this disagreement. But If you have anything against me, kindly forgive me. Let us live together as brothers,” he pleaded.
Despite the plea from Fulani leader, the people of Orin Ekiti insisted that Abashe must vacate the farmstead where he lives with his family.
Conveying the town’s resolution to the government at the parley, Mr. Omotosho Kayode, insisted that Fulani herders were allegedly responsible for killings, hoisting of the flags and destruction of farms worth over N50 million in the town.
“Two years ago, they hoisted one white flag with red linen and 15 days after, a pregnant Tiv woman and our kinsman, Mr. Emmanuel Ilori were killed last year and these scenarios may not allow us to allow Fulani herders to live with us.
“These people are giving us a lot of discomforts. We appeal to Ekiti government to ask them to leave. We don’t want Fulani on our land anymore. We are peaceful people. We don’t want Orin Ekiti to be known for negative news,” they insisted.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Security Matters, Brigadier Gen. Ebenezer Ogundana, advised the feuding parties to tolerate each other in the interest of peace.
“The essence of this discussion is how we can live together peacefully. We also want to fashion out how all the herders coming into Ekiti are identified and accepted. We have lived together for so many years and we will continue to live together as a family.
“If anybody commits crime, we should be able to identify him. Some persons had been killing, destroying farms and hoisted flags at Orin Ekiti and wrote keep off on it. We want to investigate who were behind that. Government won’t fold its arms and allow these to continue.
“We want to work out some conditions to control cattle -farmers’ relations, so that we can live in peace. Continue to tolerate yourselves until truce is reached on this issue. Every Nigerian can live anywhere, but there are owners of the land and settlers and the two must learn how to respect one another”, he said.
Stating the government’s position on the matter, Information Commissioner, Mr. Bamidele Olumilua, said peace was key to Governor Kayode Fayemi-led government, urging the two parties to coexist and see themselves as brothers.
Olumilua directed the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to keep in its custody, the cows arrested on the beleaguered land pending the resolution of the crisis.