Herdsmen Debacle: How 5,000 Ogun Residents Fled To Benin Republic In One Week

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By Dotun  Akintomide

  • 28 Feared Dead In Brutal Attacks By Herdsmen 

Ogun residents numbering about 5,000 have reportedly fled their villages to seek refuge in Pobe, a Beninoise border community located about 100 km from Cotonou — the commercial hub of Benin Republic, Nigeria’s western neighbour.

The mass movement of Nigerians in the last one week to Beninoise territory followed reported herdsmen attacks in various villages located in Yewa North Local Government and parts of Yewa South Local Government area of Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria.

According to reports, herdsmen attacks in the community date back to several years as herders move cattle around the villages in search of vegetation in the largely agrarian communities, where locals depend on farm produce to survive and earn a living. However, there has been an escalation in the attacks in recent weeks.

It was gathered that the nomadic movement of cattle by the herders in the affected communities often leads to brutal clashes and destruction of farmland and crop produce.

Following the ongoing melee, 28 persons have been feared killed in the last seven days as a result of alleged attacks by the herdsmen, something that has led to the ongoing mass movement of residents from their ancestral land in the affected communities.

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The villages where residents have fled include Ateru, Moro, Ologun, Agbon-Ojodu, Asa, Igbota, Ogunba-Aiyetoro, Oke-Odo, Ibore, Gbokoto, Iselu, Ijale, Ohunbe, Igbeme, Owode-Ketu, Igan-Alade, Lashilo, Oja Odan, Ijoun, Ateru, Moro, Ologun, Iyana Meta, Igbooro, Egbeda and Kuse, among others all in Yewa North local government Area of Ogun state.

Reports say the displaced residents are made up of 2,163 men and 2,314 women.

“A total of 688 households are affected by this massive displacement of Nigerian citizens after the inter-community clashes between the Fulani herdsmen and the Yoruba in the border area,” an agency report quoted a publication of the communal communication unit in Benin Republic.

The Nigerian refugees have already been received by Beninoise political and administrative authorities in Pobe, Igana district of that country.

“I can assure you, you are our brothers and sisters, you are our parents, you are our friends. So your safety will be assured. That is why the police are already mobilised for you,” the mayor of Pobè, Adebayo Simon Dina reportedly said.

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Some agencies and organisations in Benin that have already visited the displaced persons include: The National Civil Protection Agency, the Beninese Agency for Integrated Border Management, the World Food Programme, UN Children’s Fund, Care Benin-Togo, the Police, Departmental Directorates of Health and Social Affairs.

Only on Saturday, Southwest Governors, traditional rulers and think-tanks converged on Ibadan to chart a way forward on the security situation in the region, declaring that henceforth the six states in the region would take total ownership and control of forest reserves in the region to ward off herdsmen and other criminal elements.

The New Diplomat had earlier reported that the Olu of Ilaro and para­mount ruler of Yewaland (Ogun West), Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, had last Saturday, just before the residents’ mass movement to Benin raised alarm that armed herdsmen have mapped out major towns in Yewaland (Ogun West Sen­atorial District) for deadly attacks.

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The monarch said the alarm had become necessary to draw the attention of Pres­ident Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Dapo Abiodun and all security agencies in the state to the “continued siege” on Yewaland by armed herd­ers.

The monarch, in a release a week ago lamented that the alleged criminal and mur­derous activities of armed herdsmen had led to loss of lives, outright slaughtering of people, maiming and destruc­tion of property in Yewaland by the herders.

Oba Olugbenle appealed to President Buhari, Governor Abiodun and the security agencies to as a matter of “extreme urgency” come quickly to their aid, protection and defence from killer-herdsmen.

“Security is said to be a right of every citizen but reversed 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,” the monarch said.

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