By Abiola Olawale
Tension has escalated in the Yewa axis of Ogun state as the Paramount ruler of Yewaland and the Olu of Ilaro, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle alleged he has received a letter from Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in the state, threatening the residents of communities under his watch.
Following the reported cases of killings, maiming and destruction of farmlands by herdsmen in Yewaland in the past few weeks, Oba Olugbenle has raised alarm of a possible reoccurrence as he alleged that the Miyetti Allah group has threatened him for raising his voice.
Oba Olugbenle made this revelation during a peace parley which was set up by Dapo Abiodun, the governor of Ogun state.
While addressing the parley, the monarch head of Yewaland expressed disappointment at the incitement of violence by Miyetti Allah.
The parley was attended by Governor Abiodun, Abdullahi Ganduje, Governor of Kano State, Sani Bello, Governor of Niger State, Muhammed Matawalle, Governor of Zamfara State, Atiku Bagudu, Governor of Kebbi State, and Rotimi Akeredolu, Governor of Ondo State, aggrieved farmers, the leadership of Miyetti Allah, and other major stakeholders in the state.
In his words, “I have a letter from the Miyetti Allah threatening to deal with my people.”
Similarly, Oba Olugbenle, in a separate statement appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari, Security Chiefs, and Governor Dapo Abiodun, to deliver his people from imminent attacks in the area.
The monarch also alleged that some dangerous activities of these herdsmen “have so far happened in Egua, Oja-Odan, Igan Alade, Gbokoto and Ijoun, Owode-Ketu, Ebutu Igbooro, and Imeko Afon, with reports of plans to attack towns in (the entire) Yewaland.”
He further appealed to the federal government and the Ogun State Government to act swiftly to ensure the safety of lives and properties in the state.
The royal father, also warned that the traditional rulers in the localities would not watch with folded arms for too long. “In this situation, it is not out of place that people may resort to self-help to defend themselves if the government fails to guarantee their safety.”
Reacting to the allegations by the Monarch, the National President of Miyetti Allah, Alhaji Muhammed Kirowa, who was also present at the Abeokuta Parley, denied all the allegations laid against the fulani herders, stating that the herders have always been peaceful and that those perpetrating crimes in the states are mere criminals.
Kirowa warned against profiling the herdsmen as criminals because of the nature of their job.
At the meeting, the state governor called for peace. He also condemn the crimes which have been reported in the state and assured his commitment to make sure that all the offenders are brought to book.
In his words: “We must use the opportunity of this parley to tell ourselves the truth, not necessarily by apportioning blame, but definitely we must come up with more practical and viable recommendations that will further cement the peaceful coexistence that we have always had in Ogun State. Those fomenting the crisis are said to be non-residents in our state. Unfortunately, the crisis has been exacerbated by some undesirable elements within and outside the state that whipped up ethnic sentiments. They sneak in at night, wreak havoc and retreat after their evil acts. In whatever form, colour or ethnic group, a criminal is a criminal. We condemn all forms of crimes and criminality, regardless of the ethnicity of the perpetrators.”
Additionally, Abiodun inaugurated a 20-man Peace Keeping Committee on the recent farmers and herders clashes in the state.
The committee is headed by Kayode Oladele, a former Ogun State House of Representatives member, and comprises of state security chiefs, traditional rulers, lawmakers, government officials, representatives of Fulani herdsmen and farmers. Abiodun mandated members of the panel to determine the cause of the ethnic clashes in Yewaland, the losses, and recommend how to forestall recurrence.
In his words: “The first assignment will be to determine what really happened. What happened? What happened that disrupted the peace we enjoyed in this state and in that particular area for so long? Because it is in determining what happened that we will ensure such will not repeat itself again. After that, we now look at, what has it cost us? What have we lost? So, this committee must determine what it has cost us. The committee will determine how do we ensure this does not happen again. After the submission of the report which must be within four weeks, I am hoping that this committee can even finish the assignment in two weeks. Then, the committee will now proceed to be a standing committee that will ensure that peace and harmony continue to reign within all of us. Yesterday (Friday), I had a meeting with Mr. President to brief him on details of what happened in Ogun State, because he wanted to know exactly what happened. I am pleased to say that Mr. President was very impressed with the way we managed and handled the situation, to the point where he had to recommend our model to be adopted in the resolution of such a crisis in other parts of the country.
“To that extent, he instructed his Chief of Staff to hold another meeting with us on Saturday afternoon in Ibadan and that meeting is meant to share with the rest of us: how we should or how we resolve this type of dispute between herders and farmers so that we will continue to enjoy the peaceful coexistence that has characterised our states from time immemorial.” Governor Abiodun said.
The New Diplomat had reported that following reported attacks by the herders last week, about 5,000 residents of Ogun have fled villages in Yewa North Local Government Area of the state to seek refuge in Pobe, a border community in Benin Republic.