A youth leader in Ayete/Kajola community in the Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State, Ganiyu Omirinde, has narrated the ordeals of their farmers in the hands of criminal Fulani herdsmen allegedly unleashed by a suspected Fulani kidnap kingpin, Isikilu Wakili.
In an interview with PUNCH, Omirinde stated that farmers whose farms were destroyed by 75-year-old Wakili’s hoodlums were arrested and detained by the police and they were forced to part with N50,000 as bail before securing their release.
Omirinde added that he was part of the Oodua Peoples Congress team that went to Wakili’s den, noting that the herdsmen fired gunshots at them.
He said, “The herdsmen have constituted a nuisance to us. They vandalise our farms; they attack and inflict pains our men and rape our women. They beat many with sticks, clubbed many others, while they cut many more with machetes. They destroy property and vandalise farms, and at the end of it all, security agents will release the herders to go free without paying any compensation and without prosecution. They incapacitated us and turned us away from the farm.
“For us to eat, we go to cafeterias because we don’t have foodstuffs any longer. Ayete was a food basket before. Today in Ayete, you cannot eat N200 worth of amala and get satisfied because it is so expensive. All this is because we have been barred from our farms. We have to drink more water when eating. As we speak, a mini-truckload of cassava tubers is now N300,000, whereas it was N270,000. The problem is that it is very hard to come by.
“We are appealing to Governor Seyi Makinde to let the Fulani move to their base out of our community. They have their own towns and villages; let them go back so that we can have our peace back. We are being pushed too far. When we get to the elastic limit, we will resist the assault. It is the government that we are afraid of and not the Fulani. If we had our way, Fulani herders would have no place in our community anymore. As they terrorise us if we give them an equal reaction, will they be able to graze their cattle?
“Wakili would say land belongs to God and not to any man. Then, we asked him that while land belongs to God, is Wakili and his cohorts God’s lieutenant to claim the land being inhabited by other people? We are the people whom God put in charge of the land in this part of the world and we are answerable to God only regarding the land that we inhabit, not the herders.
“We don’t want him back on our land. When released, he should look for somewhere else to settle down; we can no longer welcome Wakili in Ayete/Kajola communities. His cattle now roam about, plundering our farmlands. We don’t have anyone to fight our cause or give us justice. The court has failed us.
“There is a police station but it is the complainant who takes the blame and gets locked up here in cases between the natives and the herders. The police take bribes to upturn cases. After locking a complainant up, they will then take N50,000 as bail. That is why we no longer lodge complaints at the station.”
Omirinde noted that since Wakili was arrested, they had had “relative peace but his cronies are still on the farm plundering our crops.”
“You heard when some people called us on the telephone some minutes ago to say that herders had set some farms on fire. The situation at Baba Pupa to Oke-Arinsa and Dagbere, Afuje to Kajola is tense as we speak. Those are no-go areas. Now, the government doesn’t want the situation to escalate,” he added.