Palpable fear has enveloped some communities in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State, following the threat of fresh attacks from suspected killer herdsmen. The communities are Oja-Odan, Ibeku, Asa and Agbon.
The unknown herdsmen last Saturday passed a notice of an attack on houses and trees in the affected communities, thereby throwing the whole community into confusion.
In the letter, which was written in English and Hausa languages, the herdsmen told leaders of the affected communities to expect their wrath between December and January.
The notice reads, “Attention! Attention!! Attention!! To all following communities: Asa, Agbon, lbeku, Oja-odan and environs. You think you can send away our people from the land they bought in Nigeria, our fathers’ land, you kill our people, you kill their cows, you take over all their properties, you think you can go Scot-free. It’s high time we came for revenge.
“All the above-mentioned communities’ leaders should prepare for the war between December and January. We are coming to take back our father’s property.”
It will be recalled that farmers/herders clashes claimed lives in the affected communities in the first quarter of 2021 while many residents of the communities fled their homes to neighbouring Benin Republic, to avoid being killed by the herdsmen.
The crisis got to its peak after Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Igboho visited Igua in Yewa North to evict some Fulani herders. The Fulani settlement in the Igua area was set on fire by some irate youths after Sunday Igboho’s visit.
In reprisal, many villages were attacked by some suspected herders, who killed residents and set houses on fire. It took the intervention of Governor Dapo Abiodun and some northern governors to bring the situation under control.
Reacting to the letter of the planned attack, an indigene of Oja-Odan, Pa Ganiyu Alebiosu said members of the community had been living in fear since they got the notice of attack.
He said, “we cannot sleep with our two eyes closed now since we saw the letter last Saturday. We cannot go to our farms any longer because we don’t know when exactly they may strike. My plan now is how to relocate my family because of this threat. All of us knew what happened last year, when they struck.
“I want to call on both the federal and state governments to come to our aid. They should deploy security operatives, especially police and soldiers to our communities for adequate protection of lives and property”.
We now live in fear —Hon Olukoku
In his own reaction, Hon Bisi Olukoku from Asa village said “the entire community now lives in fear since Saturday when we got wind of the letter. We can’t go to farm now. And we cannot sleep again because the resultant effect of the 2021 attack by the dreaded Fulani herders still lingers in our memories.
“The best Christmas and New Year gift we want from both the federal and state governments is to avert the planned attack. Government should do everything possible to get all these agents of darkness arrested so as to put an end to this problem once and for all”.
This is our land, not Niger Republic —Oba Akinyemi
Also speaking, Eselu of Iselu Kingdom, Oba Akintunde Akinyemi, appealed to residents and indigenes of the listed communities to stay calm and continue to go about their daily activities without any form of fear, because the state government was on the situation.
He said, “I want to appeal to our people to stay calm and continue to go about their daily activities without fear. When I got to know about the letter, I immediately called Governor Abiodun on phone and as a proactive governor, he swung into action. I want to assure our people that the governor is fully aware of the threat and he is in touch with different security agencies in the state.
“Therefore, I want to advise those behind the purported letter to stay off our communities. The land belongs to us. We own the land, nobody should come and threaten us on our fathers’ land. This is Ogun State in Nigeria, it is not Niger Republic. If they come, they will have themselves to blame, because they will be arrested and prosecuted according to the law of the land. Our security agencies are battle ready for them. Indigenes of the listed communities and adjourning communities are also ready for them
Residents thrown into pandemonium —YNPF President, Sanni
On his part, the President, Yewa North Patriotic Forum (YNPF), Omobolaji Sanni said, the notice of attack has thrown the residents and indigenes of the affected communities into pandemonium.
According to him, “this unusual threat from a group of settlers who migrated from their state to Egbado territory should not be taken with levity by government, security agencies and other stakeholders concerned.
“I call on all the necessary stakeholders, including political leaders, traditional rulers, security officials, and civic groups to rise against the ridiculous act of violence before it gets worse.
“Our security apparatus needs to be strengthened by ensuring that all roads that lead to the mentioned communities are mounted by armed police officers. From now, we must ensure we unravel those devilish people behind the planned attack. All hands must be on deck as we will need every citizen to be security conscious and not fail to report any strange person or group within the community”.
Residents should not sleep with their two eyes closed —Hon. Egungbohun
Speaking on the development, a member of the Ogun State House of Assembly, representing Yewa North State Constituency 2, Hon. Wahab Haruna Egungbohun, said “immediately I learnt about the letter, I informed the Speaker of the Ogun State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Olakunle Oluomo, who advised me to alert the State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Tokunbo Talabi and the Special Adviser to the governor on Security, which I did.
“I equally informed the Farmers/Herders Peace Committee and the Special Adviser on Inter Ethnic Matters, Hon. Hadi.
“From the responses which I got from all of them, they are all working round the clock to prevent the attack. The governor has liaised with the relevant security agencies both within the state and beyond to prevent the planned attack.
“Since the last attack of these communities in February and March 2021 by the herdsmen, Governor Abiodun has deployed operatives of Amotekun and So-Safe Corps to the affected communities and they had been patrolling the communities. The Amotekun Corps was purposely inaugurated in the State because of the 2021 herdsmen/ farmers attack, which claimed many lives and the destruction of property.
The residents and all indigenes of the area should not sleep with their two eyes closed. They should cooperate with security operatives by reporting any suspicious persons and movement in their communities to security operatives.
“I want to call on my people in
Asa, Agbon, lbeku, Oja-odan and other adjourning towns and villages to be vigilant and stay at alert at all times.
“I want to advises the indigenes and residents of the affected communities and adjourning communities that security operatives alone cannot do the job of securing them. The security agencies need the support and cooperation of the indigenes by volunteering information to them. They should not hoard information from security agencies. They should not hesitate to inform security agencies if they notice any suspicious persons or movement in their communities”.
We’re working to get them arrested —Akinremi, Amotekun Commander
In his reaction, the State Commandant of Amotekun Corps, David Akinremi confirmed that his agency was aware of the letter.
He said the Corps had deployed its undercover operatives for actionable intelligence in and around the identified communities.
He said, “Yes, we’re aware of the letter. However, we have deployed our undercover operatives for actionable intelligence in and around the identified communities. At the same time, we are engaging critical stakeholders, including the indigenous herders and mobilizing them on the need to be extra vigilant and organize themselves into community vigilante groups to protect their communities”.
He added that traditional efforts are also being made to ward off the killer herders.
We’ll unravel those behind the letter —Police
On its part, the State command of Nigeria Police, while confirming the letter, assured residents and indigenes of the listed communities of adequate protection.
The State Police Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi said he had seen the letter, and assured the concerned communities of the command’s commitment to unravel those behind the act.
“I saw the letter purportedly written by a baseless group. Though we believe it is a baseless group that wrote the letter, but we are not losing any sleep because no information is too small to take note of.
“We are not neglecting it. We are working on it to unravel those behind it,” he said.
Govt has failed us —Major Alao (rtd)
On his part, a retired Army Officer, Major James Alao said the herders had been attacking Ketu axis of Yewa North Local Government Area of the state for many years.
According to Alao, “it was the Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Igboho who sent them away during the 2021 attack on some of the communities in the area. Those Fulani herders in the past had destroyed our farmlands and raped our women.