It appears that there may not be an end in sight to the Fulani invasion of the Southern Nigeria especially the South West. It is not the South west alone that is experiencing the onslaught of the Fulani herdsmen, both the South South, Middle Belt and the South East too, are having their bitter experiences of the attacks of these herdsmen, who have refused to repent, despite all efforts being made to checkmate them and their operations.
The Region where their attacks have been intense is the South West and the Middle Belt, but the South west has been victim for over 30 years now.
The area in the Region mostly affected has been Oyo State, while other states of Ogun, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo States began their bitter and rampant experiences in the hands of the Fulani marauders right after the election of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.
South West, which is regarded as the most peaceful in Nigeria, was even confirmed by the presidential spokesman Garba Shehu, has now become the most unsafe, due to the activities of the Fulani herdsmen who operate brutally in the farms, on the highways and now butchering the people right in their homes.
They have the effrontery now to operate without any remorse and fear of being apprehended. Their actions have now instilled palpable fear into all in the Region which has led to series of warnings on the movement of the people on how to avoid being victims of the Fulani invaders.
It has now led to the people of the South West who were known to be hospitable and accommodating to be hostile as they believed that they are no longer safe with strangers.
This has also been part of the reasons why the agitation for self determination is so loud and gaining more ground, with the activities of a self styled activist Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho, who has been moving round the Region to sensitize the people on the need for the South west Nigeria to stand alone as a nation.
Igboho is not alone on this; he is actually leaning on the platform of the Ilana Egbe Omo Oodua, led by the emeritus Professor of History, Banji Akintoye, whose organisation started the agitation for the Yoruba nation.
What has actually heightened the fear of the people and the agitation for self-determination was the recent attack led by the Fulani on the people of Igangan in the Ibarapa North, of Oyo State.
The incident was the most tragic of all the ones that have been experienced in the Region which left over 50 people dead while several houses and properties were destroyed. This gave the people the strong belief that the Fulani have started a real war against the people of the South Western Nigeria.
Igangan where the gory incident occurred came into the limelight few months back, when the atrocities of the Fulani in the area became unbearable, which led to the ejection of the both the Serikin Fulani and a alleged notorious head of the kidnappers, Iskilu Wakilu, by Sunday Igboho.
Their evictions, all their families and followers generated so much heat and controversies and since then the tension has been high on both sides.
The last week’s Igangan attack by the Fulani was said to have been a reprisal attack by the Fulani who from all indicators were not happy with the way and manner they were sent packing from a place they claimed they have been lived for over 50 years.
It was said that they came back from Ilorin where they now relocated to launch the attack, which was said to have been led by the children of both Iskilu and the Serilkn Fulani.
According to the eyewitness it was discovered that two of the four Fulani killed during the gun battle between them and the local hunters were the aides of Iskilu and that of the Serikin Fulani.
The attack has not only reawaken the people but has made them to rise to the need for self defence, as no one is aware of when it would come to his or her community.
The attack has also elucidated reactions from people all over the country including the Maiyati Allah organisation who claimed that they were not responsible for the attack. What again got people of the South West angry was the rumour that the Fulani fighters have encircled the entire region, battle ready to wage war.
Some people claimed that they felt their presence in their areas across the South west and the incident that the hunters in Ogun State went after them in the forest and burnt down their settlements has giving credence to the claim of encirclement by the Fulani.
With this scenario there were indications that the people of the South West are now grouping to form defensive community outfits to protect themselves, in case they were attacked.
These defensive outfits are formed by the youths who have determined that they are ready to give fire for fire and would not in any way wait on the security outfits, be it soldiers or police, to come to their rescue as it has been discovered that the security operatives are shielding the Fulani bandits with the alleged knowledge of some powerful people in government.
With this notion, and present events, it is evident and glaring that the South West is boiling and the people are angry of being put under severe security threats.
And this has informed the outburst of opinion leaders, traditionalists, local defense organizations and the OPC to come out angrily that the South west is now ready to give all it takes to secure its territories from invaders.
Professor Wole Soyinka who spoke on the attack on the South West said since the government cannot provide adequate security to protect the people, it would be stupid of those being attacked to just wait and look and be at the mercy of their attackers. He argued that the only way out is that people should rise up for their defense.
However the traditional rulers in the South west too are not left in condemning the attack on the region and they have warned that their people would not fold their arms to see them being killed stupidly without resistance.
They further argued that they were in support of whatever measures that would now be adopted by their subjects to curtail the activities and atrocities of the herdsmen invading their territories and communities.
The Ooni of Ife Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi the Ojaja II expressed his bitterness over the activities of the Fulani bandits, who he said were not relenting in unleashing terror on the people of the South West and has called on the people to resist them and find every means of defending themselves.
According to the monarch, who condemned the invasion by Fulani in a strong-worded statement, signed by his media aide, Moses Olafare, he expressed displeasure at the current security architecture in the country. He disclosed the Yoruba people are disciplined and law-abiding but are not fools.
“Such an attack in which victims credibly traced some perpetrators from a particular section of the country is capable of disintegrating this country. That is why those behind it must be smoked out of their jungles and dealt with accordingly.”
“There is no better time for robust security measures than now because security of lives and properties of Nigerians is the basis upon which government is being constituted. We Yoruba are disciplined people and law abiding but not fools.”
The monarch pointed out that reliable information indicated that some foreign Fulani herdsmen and bandits of Tuareg extraction have perfected plans to invade communities in South-West. He revealed that the Yoruba people are ever ready to defend their land.
“We are prepared to defend ourselves without resorting to anarchy.”, the monarch argued.
Also the Alaafin of Oyo Oba Lamidi Adeyemi 111 reacted in the same language, warning that government should not blame the people if they rise to defend themselves in the face of confrontations and provocations in the hands of their enemies.
He said though they would continue to talk to government but the people would have to rise to the occasion if provoked and would not want people to take the hospitable nature of the Yoruba for granted, as they are capable of resisting any onslaught on them as the situation demands.
In his own reaction to the killings in the South West, the leader of the apex leader of Yoruba Self-Determination Groups, Ilana Omo Oodua, Professor Banji Akintoye, who did not mince words, said that the murder of Yoruba people of Igangan in Oyo State was a declaration of war by “Fulani terrorists”.
He accused President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government of backing the “terrorist herdsmen that have been maiming, killing and raping the Yoruba people and exterminating their properties”.
While he commended the Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu for his stand on the Igangan massacre, he as well called on the South-West governors to put aside constitutional objections to defend their people.
According to him, “Yoruba land has been surrounded, and we must act now because Yoruba people have never been conquered and this is the reason why Yoruba youths are urged to prepare for “technological, spiritual and physical warfare”.
“The Fulani herdsmen attack must never be allowed to succeed anywhere in Yoruba land again”.
The Aare Ona Kakanfo Yorubaland Iba Gani Adam’s has said that it has now got to a stage for the Yoruba to defend themselves and called on all local security agencies such as the OPC, Agbekoya, the hunters’ Amotekun and others to brace up and be prepared to defend the people.
“The Igangan attack has shown us that some people and the Fulani have started war with the Yoruba people who are the most accommodating in Nigeria.”
Meanwhile the governor of Oyo State Engineer Seyi Makinde who has been accused of being too docile over the incessant attacks on the people by the Fulani herdsmen has apologized to the people saying that he should be blamed for what happened and promised that such would not occur in the state anymore.
“Once again, I beg of you; give us the opportunity to come back and rebuild things and put a more solid architecture such that you will be able to go to farms and do whatever you want to do without fear.
“But I should be held accountable. I am responsible for this and will do everything within my power to make sure that it will not happen again.”
Makinde, while speaking further, maintained that he would empower local security guards and vigilantes in order to secure the area.
“I have told your chairman that all the vigilantes and security guards, the government will be responsible for them. This is your government, please give me the opportunity to do the needful so that a meeting like this would not come up again.
“I believe there are some certain things we put in place, which we think would work but unfortunately, they did not work. Please, give me some time, everything will be resolved.
The leader of the Amotekun outfit, Adetunji Adeleye, has announced that the security outfit will start to secure all borders in the Yorubaland to curb the activities of criminals, especially those that specialize in kidnapping, armed robbery, and banditry, saying that the job of the security outfit will not disrupt the duty of Nigeria’s custom services.
According to him, “Nigeria’s Customs officers will continue to do their job while the Amotekun will only secure the borders from any usurpers.”
Also, he said “those Amotekun who will be stationed within the town will be stationed at every road junction, especially where the roads are bad because they have discovered that criminals are mostly targeting vehicles that slow down at any bad portion to attack them.”
Meanwhile the police in all the South West have indicated their readiness to deal with criminals and forestall wanton attacks of the people
The Oyo State Commissioner of Police Mrs. Ngozi Onadeko, has said that the police in the state are ready to combat criminals, following the news going round that bandits have surrounded the state and ready to strike
According to her, the police and other sister security agencies in the state, in collaboration with the local hunters and vigilance groups, are working to ensure the safety of lives and property in the state.
She called on the citizens of the state to stop creating unnecessary fear in the public and provide credible information for the police to act upon.
Also her Lagos State counterpart Akeem Odumosu was said to have ordered emergency combat training of over 450 officers and men. It was believed that the order was handed down to his Deputy in charge of Operations DCP Kontagora to head the combat training.
Recently CP Odumosu had raised an alarm that some members of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in conjunction with some Yoruba groups had planned to causse violence in Lagos.