By James Ogunnaike
AGONY and sorrow enveloped Yewa axis of Ogun State as no fewer than 13 people were killed by hoodlums suspected to be Fulani herdsmen in different communities scattered across Yewaland in the last one week.
The gory incident started in Oha, Imeko-Afon Local Government Area of Ogun State, as one Dele Olowoniyi was hacked to death by Fulani herdsmen in the mid-night of Saturday, 6th February, 2021 while receiving fresh air in front of his hut in a farm settlement located in Oha.
About two days later, two other persons were also killed in an ambush by people suspected to be herders at Owode-Ketu while going to market.
In Asa, three persons were killed, while four persons were killed at Ebute Igbooro and about nine other persons sustained varying degrees of injury from the mid-night attack.
At Agbon in Yewa North Local Government Area of the state, three farmers were killed in another attack by the herders.
In Agbon-Ojodu, Orile Igbooro, property including houses, cars and motorcycles were destroyed.
Speaking on the sad incident, the Village head (Baale) of Orile Igbooro, Tajudeen Akorede, said four members of the community lost their lives, including children, to the suspected herdsmen while nine others are still in the hospital receiving treatment from injuries.
He said the attackers came in the dead of the night when everybody was asleep. “No, we just heard sounds of gun in the dead of the night. We didn’t know what to do. We were perplexed.
“In my community, the herders set some houses, vehicles and motorcycles ablaze. We cannot go to our farms again.”
He appealed to government to station security operatives in Orile Igbooro to enable the villagers who fled in the wake of the invasion, to come back.
Narrating how her husband (Olowoniyi) was killed, the widow, Rasheedat Olowoniyi said she was peeping through the curtains inside their hut and watched in disbelief as herdsmen macheted her husband to death.
She said: “I could not shout or raise alarm in order not to attract attention of the killer herdsmen to myself and my son.”
“The herdsmen stormed the farm settlement with guns and cutlasses on motorcycles.
“The herdsmen were 18 in number and stormed the farm at about 12am with six motorcycles and started shooting indiscriminately when they got to the farm in order to scare the people.
“We had slept that day but my husband decided to sleep outside. My son and I slept in the room. I was inside when they killed him. They first started shooting; it was the gunshots that woke me up. I opened the curtains slightly and I saw them. They came in six motorcycles and three people were on each motorcycle.
“He was dragged on the floor. They beamed torchlight around to see if anybody was watching but I dodged behind the curtains. I watched as they took his phone and wallet and tied to his waist and ransacked his pocket for money. They spoke Fulfulde. That was what made me know that they are Fulani.”
Rashidat said that her late husband had about two months ago complained to the Fulani community after some cattle reportedly ate his farm crops. She, however, said the Fulani community apologised to him, unknown to them that they planned to attack him later.
“He challenged the Fulani on why they allowed their cattle to eat his crops. He told them that his farm was not in the bush. They begged him and everything was settled. That was about two months ago,” she said.
Speaking on the incesant killings in his constituency, member of Ogun State House of Assembly, representing Yewa II State Constituency, Wahab Haruna Abiodun Egungbohun berated the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, on how he has been handling the security of lives and property of the people.
The lawmaker said the senseless killing by the Fulani herdsmen in Yewa area of the state is becoming unbearable as people in his constituency can no longer sleep with their two eyes closed.
He said on Thursday, some communities in Yewa North, that included Owode Ketu, Ijoun, Eggua, Igan-Alade and Tata were reportedly ambushed by the herdsmen and killed two villagers.
“On Friday night again, heavily armed men entered Orile-Igbooro village in Yewa North and no fewer than four villagers were killed, some houses were also burnt down while many people were left with various degrees of injuries. It is clear that these herdsmen are behind the attacks.”
Ketu Constituency II has often witnessed violent attacks stemming from disputes between the herdsmen and the farmers.
“Security is said to be a right of every citizen but reverse is the case in Ketu. We are not treated with fairness. Our farmers can’t go to farm, we can’t sleep with eyes closed. The Governor should empower other security agencies now,” he lamented.
“It is sad that no single herder has been arrested since security agencies have been fighting insecurity in my Constituency.
“It is sad that our people in villages in this part of the state have not been able to sleep since last night. Villagers are now outside, setting up bonfire and ready to defend their village.”
Addressing residents of the affected communities, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Abdulwaheed Odusile, appealed to them not to take law into their hands, but to allow the security agencies and the traditional rulers handle the situation.
He called for peaceful co-existence among the indigenes and people from other ethnic groups living in the state.
The Information Commissioner appreciated the royal fathers in Yewaland for dousing the tension that arose as a result of the attack from the herdsmen, calling for the sharing of necessary information that would lead to the end of the crisis, as the state government was poised to finding a permanent solution to the crisis in the state.
We need Amotekun in Ogun—Yewa monarch
Reacting to the senseless killings in his domain, the Olu of Ilaro and Paramount ruler of Yewaland, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, called for immediate setting up of the Amotekun Corp in the state.
He urged government to involve traditional rulers in selecting its operatives who know their terrain.
He said: “I want to plead with the governor to commission the Amotekun Corp. When doing this, all critical stakeholders including the traditional rulers should be involved in recommending people who know the terrains. Round pegs should be put in round holes”, he advised.
The monarch also advocated for the inscription of owner’s name on each cattle, maintaining that this would help in identifying the owner in event of destruction of farm by cattle.
On his part, the Eselu of Iselu, Oba Ebenezer Akinyemi, traced the history of the crisis to cattle feeding on farmers’ produce and called for the creation of ‘grazing zone’.
On his part, the State Commissioner for Police, Edward Ajogun, noted that policemen have been deployed to the affected areas as government has given security agencies the wherewithal to bring peace to the areas.