Oba Williams Akinyemiju is the Olugusin of Igusin town in the Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo State. In this interview with PETER DADA, the traditional ruler speaks about the recent attack on the communities under his domain by some suspected Fulani herdsmen
Excerpt of an interview between an Akure Oba and Punch Newspaper reads:
Few days ago, there was a reported case of some Fulani herdsmen attack on your community. What is your reaction?
They started the attack on my people three years ago and we have made a lot of complaints and spent money but all to no avail. All our efforts on our farmlands are not yielding fruits because of these protracted attacks. Our yam plantations are being destroyed by cattle reared by Fulani and they will even take some tubers of yam and cocoyam away from our farms. We reported to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps. They came down to this place; arrested two of their leaders, one of them is Adamu, probably their spokesman. The NSCDC asked us to do estimate farmlands destroyed by the Fulani with a view to ensuring that they paid for what their cattle destroyed, though some of us did nothing was paid to us and we gave up. That was three years ago.
Last year, there was a similar occurrence and we went back to the NSCDC and even carried along the police in the matter, still it was the same story. We believed it is because they are connected with the authorities at the top and we do not have a say.
When these Fulani are arrested, you will just discover that they will release them without prosecuting them. I could remember that some time ago, I seized a calf from the herdsmen for destroying my farm and it was kept in my palace but I later took it to the SIB (at the state police headquarters) and the first statement that came out of the mouth of the then Assistant Commissioner of Police was that I should thank God that the calf did not die in my custody. It was in my presence that the police called the head of the herdsmen and the calf was handed over to him.
When we waited but nothing happened again, we had to leave until another trouble ensued few days ago. I was just in my home when I noticed that there was a crowd of people outside my palace. They were over 200, who were chased away by these herdsmen. There were children of ages four to five years and pregnant women among them. It was around 11pm and I later asked them to sleep here.
The following day, I had to go to Apedu village and I met people standing in groups and we had to decide to meet in Araromi village because it falls in the middle of all the villages. There we decided on the next move and I went to Deji in Akure because the late Deji, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, was the one who installed me. I remember he warned me that I should not get myself involved in cases of theft but that I should report any matter that I couldn’t handle to the Deji’s palace.
So, when I met the Deji, he asked us to go back, promising that the police would follow us and we left for Araromi and not too long we saw up to four different teams of policemen in Araromi. The Chairman of the Akure North Local Government came and the SA to the Governor on Security Matters, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo, also came and we explained to them everything that happened and they said that they would help us resolved the matter.
What we want is that we are not saying that they should not rear their cattle but they should leave our farms. We are hungry despite that we have food crops in the farms; the Fulani do not allow us to reap them. I have to use my money to buy yams since the Fulani won’t allow us to reap anything. So, the SA with the police went and checked the areas where the cows were. They saw them in three to four areas.
Three days later, the SA to the governor on Security Matters asked us to come back and we met him again. The SA promised us that the government would help us by deploying security agents to disperse the attackers and he asked us to go back to our towns. But in the midnight of yesterday again, I received a call that the Fulani had started disturbing them again and I had to call the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Chief Olugbenga Ale and others that could be of help. We, the heads of the communities, agreed to meet so that our people can chase the Fulani away from where they may be hiding now.