The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, has written letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, warning that the Yoruba people could resort to self-help against the “increasing and incessant menace of herders” in the face of “apparent helplessness” of Nigeria’s security agencies.
The Alaafin, in the letter titled “Yoruba Question in Nigeria Conundrum”, expressed worry about the country’s insecurity.
His words: “I am worried about the security situation in the country, especially in the South-west geo-political zone, nay the entire Yoruba-speaking area of the country including Kwara, Kogi and Edo states.
“This has to do with the incessant and increasing menace of Fulani herdsmen that have laid siege in almost all the highways of Yoruba land.”
The Alaafin’s letter is coming at a time when Nigerians were still digesting the one written by former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, where the need to adopt a new approach to the insecurity across the land, was highlighted
The Oyo monarch’s letter is also amid heightened tension following the killing of Funke Olakunrin, a daughter of Yoruba leader Reuben Fasoranti. Mr Fasoranti’s group, Afenifere, blamed Fulani herdsmen, but the police are yet to identify any suspect.
Armed herders, for several years, have been blamed for violence in parts of Yorubaland, but the killing of Mr Fasoranti’s daughter marked the first high profile case which they would be accused of.
“Whether in Owo, Akure, Ilesa/Ife-Ibadan road or Ibarapa zone and Ijebu area of Ogun state, the story is the same,” the Alaafin continued blaming the Fulani for insecurity in the South-west region. “I have held series of consultations with opinion moulders and eminent Yoruba leaders across board about the menace of these cattle herders with such assault like raping of our women and in some occasions, in the presence of their husbands.
“That is apart from massive destruction of our agricultural lands; which ultimately points to imminent starvation.”
The Fulani contributed to the collapse of Old Oyo Empire. They established an emirate in Ilorin, originally a Yoruba town, and made attempt to penetrate further before being stopped in Osogbo, present-day Osun State – a historical context that explains the distrust and tension between the Yoruba and the Fulani group.
“On top of it all is the menace of professional kidnappers usually in military uniforms. What is more worrisome about the kidnapping notoriety is what looks like impunity which these kidnappers enjoy their nefarious activities.
“Worse still is the confidence with which they demand ransoms and collect such illegal levies at designated spots without any arm of security being able to lay siege on them as it was the practice in the recent past.
“Now, we cannot even talk of parading suspects, when in actual sense, no major arrests have been made in this part of the country. Without arrests, we cannot talk of their facing of the law.
“Unfortunately, and painfully indeed, in the face of the apparent helplessness of our security agencies, where do we go from here? “It is at the wake of this manifest frustration of our people that our people have found it unavoidable, even though reluctantly to resort to alternative measures to safeguard their lives and property.
“Suffice to say that in most part of Yoruba land, their pre-colonial military structures have not been totally collapsed. Hence, such structures like Odua People’s Congress, Agbekoya and other vigilante,” the Oyo monarch wrote.
The OPC, an armed Yoruba militia involved in vigilante work in parts of the Southwest, recently told the authorities it would ‘respond appropriately’ after the killing of Mr Fasoranti’s daughter.
He reminded the President of the crime that had been committed by the herdsmen, saying: “Certain individuals were kidnapped along Erio-Aromoko Road, Ekiti State. They were tortured and exposed to danger in the forest for over two weeks. These victims included the Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ikole branch, Adeola Adebayo, whose decomposing body was eventually found after a ransom price of N4m had been paid.”
He listed other victims of the marauders to include, two officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps, both Yoruba, who were picked up along Ilesa-Akure highway; Musibau Adetumbi, a legal practitioner based in Ibadan; Prof. Adegbehingbe, a surgeon at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-ife; Dr Muslim Omoleke; Mr Ayo Oladele, and Dayo Adewole, son of a member of 2015-2019 executive council and Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who was kidnapped on his farm at Iroko, a village along Ibadan-Oyo road.
He said further, “I am therefore writing to you, as a concerned stakeholder in your administration to alert you to the need to quickly respond to these and other issues concerning Yorubaland. There is a general impression among opposition group that you are not known to take decisive and proactive steps in many matters of national interest and that you are not usually too disturbed about the gale of insecurity in Yorubaland.
“May I also share with you the outcome or product of my wide consultations in Yorubaland to let you know, beyond what official security reports will make available to you, that there is a growing feeling of frustration, disappointment and despondency among our people, which if not immediately addressed, could lead to other serious national catastrophes and security challenges.”