Killings, kidnappings linked with herdsmen in Yoruba heartland are triggering a cauldron of emotions that may lead to inter-ethnic strife if not nipped in the bud.
In Ondo state, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has issued a seven day notice to herdsmen to leave the forest reserves, where they should not have occupied in the first place.
In Oyo state, especially in Ibarapa LGA, a social mobiliser, Sunday Igboho, real name Chief Sunday Adeyemo has also given herdsmen an ultimatum to leave the area, following several killings and kidnappings.
He was in Ibarapa today to address the people about the ultimatum and in viral videos he restated that the herdsmen are no longer welcome in Yorubaland.
He told the crowd that gave him a heroic welcome: “I’m assuring you that no one will henceforth kidnap or unleash terror on you. This is your fatherland. We are not fighting anyone who doesn’t disturb our peace. We are law-abiding provided you don’t trample on our own rights to live peacefully in our land.”
“It’s not only Ibarapa we will liberate; we will visit other Yoruba states where the visitors are terrorizing them. We say no to kidnapping, rape and killing of our people.”
He seemed to have the people’s support, despite Governor Seyi Makinde’s broadcast assuring the herdsmen that they are free to stay in the state.
On Friday, Makinde urged the new police boss in the state to arrest Igboho.
One commenter warned about what the development signposts for Nigeria: “There’s Sunday Igboho from Igboho, Oyo State today, if something is not quickly done about this herdsmen menace, there will be Sunday Ilesha, Sunday Akure, Sunday Iworoko, Sunday Abeokuta, Sunday Bariga who will rise up to protect their people from these criminal elements”.
The menace of herdsmen became a major issue in the South West on the 21st of September, 2015, following the kidnapping of Chief Olu Falae, a former presidential candidate and secretary of the Federal Government on his farm, just outside Akure.
The kidnappers demanded N100 million Naira as a ransom for his release.
He was ultimately released on the 24 September, after the payment of N5 million ransom and returned to his home in Akure.
The daring action by the herdsmen shocked many in the South West. Two years after, seven herdsmen said to be responsible for the kidnapping were sentenced to life imprisonment by an Akure High Court.
Four years after Falae was kidnapped, herdsmen were also fingered in the fatal shooting of Mrs Funke Olakunrin, daughter of Afenifere leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti. This was on 13th July, 2019.
Mrs Olakunrin was returning to Lagos when her vehicle was riddled with bullets on the Ondo-Ore Road. She did not survive the attack.
Last April, the police announced the arrest of four suspects, in connection with the killing. However, the ring leader of the dastardly act remains at large.
In December, a prominent farmer and owner of Kunfayakun Green Treasures Limited, Dr Fatai Aborode, was killed by herdsmen near his farm, along Apodun village in Oyo State.
The attack happened in broad day.
This January in Oyo state, a kidnapped farmer, Wole Agboola was killed by the herdsmen, even after collecting N2m ransom from the family.
Like Falae, Agboola was kidnapped on his farm by armed herdsmen dressed in military camouflage.
He was kidnapped on 28 December on his piggery/fish farm located at Nagbede village via Aba-odo in Oyo.
His decomposing remains were recovered from the bush in Aba-Odo on January 11, by the police a few miles from where he was abducted.
The list of victims is endless.
Ondo state has also had many killings, kidnappings traced to armed herdsmen.
In November last year, Oba Israel Adeusi, the Olufon of Ifon was killed in an ambush said to have been staged by the herdsmen.
Also Dr. Amos Arijesuyo, deputy registrar of Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA, was killed on Ilesha-Akure by bandits in the day time on 16 January, 2021.
On Wednesday, prominent Yoruba leader, Professor Banji Akintoye in an interview with PUNCH, urged Yoruba people to prepare to defend themselves against the herdsmen.
Akintoye, who is Worldwide Leader of the Yoruba global movement, Ilana Omo Oodua, accused the Presidency of supporting criminality by faulting Ondo Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s order asking herdsmen to vacate forest reserves in the state.
He accused Fulani herdsmen of engaging in full-scale criminality since President Muhammadu Buhari became Nigeria’s president.
The Yoruba elder wondered why the Federal Government had refused to prosecute many Fulani herdsmen engaging in criminal activities.
“The Presidency is now initiating a very dangerous doctrine of governance in Nigeria. The presidency is now saying that the state’s authority no longer includes the security of the people of the state.
“That is not only bad but dangerous to the existence of Nigeria. It is an assessment of the quality of governance in Nigeria by the rest of the world.
“All Nigerians who are being assaulted, raped, and killed by the Fulani must defend themselves; not only Yorubas or those living in Ondo. If we continue to wait for the Federal Government, these herdsmen will kill all of us. We must rise to defend ourselves.
“The Nigerian government has shown again that it is working for the Fulani. I don’t think anybody should be afraid to say that because it is the truth. The Fulani has been committing crimes on a massive scale since 2015 in Nigeria.
“The government has never owned up that they are committing the crime. They have been going around kidnapping, killing people, and destroying farms, properties, and villages on a persistent scale and those things are crimes under the laws of Nigeria. In some parts of the country, it looks as if the army is colluding with them (herdsmen).”