Herdsmen Attacks: Ogun Communities Cry Out, Seek Govt, Police Protections

The people of Ketu-speaking communities in Ogun State have called on the state government and relevant security agencies to urgently come to their rescue over the incessant attacks on them by herdsmen.

It was gathered that communities such as Ikotun, Ologiri, Akeru, Ilukan, Ijege and Ajibode, all under Ketu Local Council Development Area (LCDA), in Ogun West senatorial district, the people of the affected areas under the aegis of Ketu Advancement Forum (KAF), in a statement titled: ‘Repeated murder of Ketu people and destruction of their livelihood by marauding Fulani herdsmen’ and made available to journalists in Abeokuta  yesterday expressed worries over the safety of their lives and property.

According to Mr. Kunle Abiose and Williams Olayode, both Coordinator-General and Director of Public Affairs (DPA) of the group respectively, stated that their inhabitants have continued to live in perpetual fears on account of the renewed siege of Fulani herdsmen on their respective communities in the last five months.

They said their people who are predominantly farmers have been sent away from their farms, while over well 30 primary schools have been shut down, health facilities closed and economic activities paralysed for palpable fears of rape, armed robbery and murder.

KAF noted that the incessant attacks being launched by herdsmen commenced in October last year but it later degenerated when on December 17, 2017, hapless and innocent aged women were attacked and inflicted with machete cuts in two communities – Moro and Eegelu- villages for their refusal to surrender themselves to be raped.

“Nine days thereafter, precisely on December 19, 2017, the marauding herdsmen were out on their evil mission again, killing one Mr. Olabisi Tangu Afolabi and setting his corpse ablaze at Oosada village. To add sorrow to the Christmas celebrations, they struck again on December 25, 2017 and murdered one Mr. Adegoke Olude at Ogunba Ayetoro.

“However, with the active collaboration of our local vigilante men, three of the suspected killers namely; Mohammed Bello (40), Muhammed Momoh (30) and Yisau Umoru (18) were arrested and subsequently handed over to the police. The suspected herdsmen were later paraded personally by the State Police Commissioner, Mr. Ahmed Illyasu, with an AK47 riffle, a dozen of 0.8mm live ammunition, 26 live cartridges and two sharp cutlasses which were recovered from them.

“Surprisingly too,  three days after a stakeholders meeting convened by Ketu LCDA on January 25, 2018 at the instance of the state Commissioner of Police and Ketu Advancement Forum (KAF), which had the herdsmen in attendance, the herders broke loose again into our farms, hewing down palm and teak trees for their cattle to graze on.”

While still in shock, when the local people went to inspect the damage done to their farms, the herders again opened fire on them with the locales sustaining varying degrees of gunshots wounds. This incident was well documented at the Police Area Command Office, Ilaro.

While the local people and the police are working together on the matter, there is nowhere that we, the people that are at the centre of the assault, have come in contact with what the state government is doing to protect us, no matter how little. And Yoruba elders in their wisdom say you cannot shave somebody’s head without his consent and without him knowing.

“Presently, the atmosphere is charged in areas such as Ikotun, Ologiri, Akeru, Ilukan, Ijege and Ajibode, as the inhabitants have continued to come under the influx of herds. Therefore, state governor can no longer continue to turn blind eyes and deaf ears to the tensed situation,” declared the KAF.

However, the forum has rejected moves to allocate any of its vast lands for open grazing and predicated its arguments on two reasons.

“The herders have proven over the years to be deadly and incapable of co-habiting with our people, judging by the woes they have continuously visited on our people for the past 15 years and also, there is acute shortage of farmland in Ketu LCDA as the state government had already taken over the huge chunk of the people’s land for four forest reserves located at Tobolo/Aworo, Eggua, Oja-Odan and Ohunbe, while another large expanse of land had been taken over for the Ogun and Lagos States joint Rice Plantations at Eggua. The little lands that are remaining are overcrowded and therefore, grossly inadequate for farming, which is our people’s only mainstay of occupation,” said Abiose and Olayode.

Besides, the forum sought for an immediate action by the Ogun State House of Assembly to expedite action in the passage of the bill on open grazing  before it, the setting up of a special tasks force to monitor and regulate movements across the international borders in the affectes areas, particularly of cattle rustlers, armed herders and others that have been identified as aggravating internal tension and insecurity in Ketu axis, and the provision of logistics support to the Implementation Committee contained in the MoU midwifed by the state government among parties on the matter in December 2012, which involved the police, Nigerian Army, other security agencies, local vigilante groups and representatives of Miyetti Allah in Ogun State, to enable them patrol the black spots with a view to keeping the marauding herders at bay, among other steps to be taken to prevent further attacks.