Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Oladiran Oladokun: Fulani Seized Our Farms, Killed, Raped, Kidnapped Us In Oyo


 How Fulani seized our farms, raped our women, kidnapped and killed our people – Convener, Igangan Development Advocates, Oladokun


The Convener of the Igangan Development Advocates, Mr Oladiran Oladokun, who is also a farmer, tells OLUFEMI OLANIYI the genesis of the crisis in Igangan and other parts of Ibarapaland, Oyo State and suggests the way out of it

Can you trace the genesis of the herdsmen crisis in Igangan?

The crisis has been going on for years and what happened last week, I think, was a reaction to the agelong issues of oppression of the host community by the Fulani herdsmen. The Fulani way of life and the culture of dominating and oppressing their hosts caused the problem. They have committed a lot of atrocities against our people, I mean the indigenes of Igangan and even the entire Ibarapaland.

What are the atrocities? 


They started with frequent plundering of farms. It became so bad that at least three or four cases of farm destruction would be reported at the police station everyday. The people are farmers and destroying their only means of livelihood is like killing them. This has been going on for more than 15 years and people became used to it.

At what point did kidnapping come in?

I think they realised that they could make huge money quickly with kidnapping and that was when they introduced kidnapping and armed robbery. Seriki Salihu Abdukadir has been fingered to be behind some wicked acts against the indigenes on many occasions. Anytime any offence was committed, the Seriki would be the one defending the arrested Fulani.

Offences like what?

Offences like farm plundering, rape, kidnapping and so on, Seriki would be the one defending the Fulani that were caught. He would be the one who would make sure that they were not prosecuted. He would throw his weight behind those arrested. Seriki and his sons were the ones accusing Amotekun of killing his people when they came to some settlements to fight kidnappers. That happened recently.


Are you saying he compromised the police to let the offenders go scot-free?

It may not be like that but he has influence. It may not be in the police in the state alone. I believe he has influence above (Abuja). What can a commissioner of police do if he or she is given an order by the superior? We don’t know who he is connected to but he has strong connection and influence.

You mentioned rape among the crimes allegedly committed by herdsmen. Was there any time this happened?

We have had many rape cases, but I cannot go on and be mentioning their names because it will reopen their wounds. There was a woman that was raped in Igangan by Fulani. There are cases of attack, killings and many atrocities being committed against the people. Those criminals are always shielded.

My brother, Sola Akintola was attacked on his farm by herdsmen. He went to his farm with labourers and they harvested cassava in large quantities. After they had loaded some pickup vans, he waited behind for the vehicles to come back and load the remaining. While he was there on the farm alone, the herdsmen came with a large number of cattle and he asked them to take their cattle to another part to feed them but they insisted that their animals would be fed with the cassava he harvested and was waiting to be transported to the market. Can you believe that? He resisted them and they attacked him. Their swords could not harm him so they started beating him with their rods and clubs until they battered the hand he was using to defend his head.

Why did he not report the case to the police?

He did. The police saw that he could die if he was not treated immediately so they wrote down his name and asked him to go to hospital. After that, the police came from the area command to arrest those who attacked him because he knows them. The police said they would arrest him on a particular date at Kara market, they came but could not arrest him. The case was attempted murder but they could not arrest the suspects.

How?

They came and he went with the policemen to where Konga, the master of those who attacked him was. The policemen could not arrest him because the Fulani came out with weapons. The policemen had to go back. If you are an indigene of the place and your brother narrowly survived such a vicious attack and nothing was done to the criminals, will that not discourage you from going to the farm? We have two Serikis: Seriki Ego who is the Seriki Bororo and Seriki Salihu. Bororo is just a sub-ethnic Fulani group, but there is nothing that happens among the Fulani that Seriki Salihu is not aware of. When our own farm was destroyed, it was Seriki’s son that came to defend the Fulani men that did it.

But why do you think he allegedly defends criminal herdsmen?

I think it’s against their culture to point out criminals among them or anyone that does anything wrong. Seriki has never done that. He has never condemned criminality among the Fulani. He will always defend them and this makes us to believe he knows about everything happening.

But Seriki said those perpetrating crimes were not his people. He said some people come from Zamfara State, Kebbi State and other areas. …

Wherever a Fulani man comes from, they are his brothers. The Fulani will come and attach themselves to those here. They won’t come and be living there without the knowledge of Seriki. Even if a Fulani man comes and acquires land from our people, Seriki will still be involved; so he cannot say the Fulani come from Zamfara and he doesn’t know them.

The Oyo State House of Assembly passed an anti-open grazing bill. Do you think this will stop the crisis when it is signed into law?

Yes, it will, but I don’t know why the governor has not signed it into law. The bill is still just like a proposal despite its passage by the lawmakers until the governor signs it and makes it a law. Whatever is delaying it should be quickly resolved and let it become operational. They should deploy security personnel to enforce the law and they should be well equipped for the job. After that anybody that violates the law should be arrested and prosecuted.

Is Igangan a border community?

It is not. But it has a very large amount of uncultivated forest and the Fulani migrate through the bush most times. If you know how to manoeuvre like them, you can get to the Benin Republic from the bush there. But if you go on the road, there are many communities you will get to within Nigeria.

Is there a mining site in Igangan?

I am not aware of any mining site in Igangan. But if there is, it could be an illegal mining site. If you are referring to what Seriki said, it is his way of shifting blame. He is very skilful at that but he can no longer fool us.

How did Sunday Igboho come to the scene?

I believe the atrocities being committed by the herdsmen got to him and he came. He came to find out and went to visit the traditional rulers and they told him that they were tired of the wickedness of these people and helpless. They asked for his help against the killing, raping, kidnapping and destruction of farms by Fulani people. It was a clarion call sent to Chief Sunday Igboho because the government failed to listen to us. He did not just go to visit Seriki, he asked for permission and he was given.

You accused the government of not listening to your people. Have you reported the problem in the area to the state government?

We have informed the government of the security problem several times. In 2019, I personally submitted a letter to the governor and I copied the speaker of the House of Assembly, and I also sent copies to the lawmaker from our constituency Hon. B.T. Ojedokun. That was in July 2019. Before the gruesome murder of Dr Fatai in December 2020, we took another step and submitted another letter to let the government know what is happening to our people. Some of those leaders believed that what we were saying was exaggerated and this showed in the broadcast by the governor. We staged a protest after Dr Aborode was killed.

Who killed Dr Aborode?

From reports from eyewitnesses including his manager and all what had happened before then, Fulani herdsmen killed him.

Why?

He owns a very large expanse of land which he used for agricultural purposes. The farm is very large and the Fulani are not comfortable with this. One thing the Fulani here hate most is seeing land owners cultivating their land. They would do everything to send you out. They want to drive out all farmers from their farms and that is why we have been crying out but our cry was not heeded. So seeing Dr Fatai Aborode owning such a large farm is a big headache to them. They know that such will motivate other indigenes to go back to cultivate their land but they detest this. It will shock you that as they are driving away our people from the land, they are taking over the land and cultivating it. But it is interesting that when they plant, a single cow will not stray to eat anything on their farm. So, you will now realise that the daily destruction of our farms is deliberate. They drive our people out by destroying their farms and attacking them and they are taking over. They plant and bring their produce to the market for us to buy.

So, the Fulani grow crops apart from breeding cattle?

They do. They produce crops in large quantities after driving away our people. If you have a farm near theirs, you won’t harvest it. Their cattle will destroy everything.

They are not indigenes of Igangan. How did they get land in the area?

Our people are hospitable like other Yoruba. They gave some of them a piece of land to just build their huts because we are hospitable but our hospitality is working against us now. Some who don’t cultivate their land inheritance would give it to the Fulani to use but they are regretting it now.

My father before he died could no longer go to the farm because of these Fulani people. Nobody could go and farm there and the land was left fallow for about 15 years before my brothers and I decided to go back to farming. The land is left uncultivated for a long time and the Fulani would start growing crops there. When they were challenged they would plead with you that they just needed a small portion of it to grow things to feed their families. After a while, they would make sure they did not allow you to return there again even if you want to start cultivating it.

At times, the Fulani would offer money to some people and they would buy land . That also happens.

The Miyetti Allah has said the country should be restructured and they would go their ways. Are you in support of this?

We welcome restructuring of Nigeria and we believe that will be a permanent solution to this crisis and some other problems. If Miyetti Allah is saying Fulani should go their way, it is will be good riddance to bad rubbish. We are hospitable in Yorubaland and it will surprise you that there are some Fulani that are still living with us in this town despite the Friday crisis. They move about without fear because those ones are not our problem but the Seriki and his followers.





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