Friday, September 4, 2015 1:00 pm
By Gbenro Adesina.
Travellers in the Oke-Ogun Area of Oyo State, comprising Iseyin, Otu, Okaka, Sepeteri, Saki and environs usually hold their breath and pray silently when they travel until they reach their destinations. Reason: Bororo or Fulani cattle rearers always attack them on the way. This has led to beefing up of surveillance by hunters and various vigilance groups armed with local guns and assorted charms. Even, on their farm settlements and towns, everyone sleeps with only one eye. In other words, various villages and farms experience constant attacks as the herdsmen drive their cows to feed on crops.
The Oke-Ogun Area, tagged the “food basket” of Oyo State is made up of these local government areas: Saki West, Saki East, Oorelope, Olorunsogo, Irepo, Atisbo, Itesiwaju, Kajola, Iseyin and Iwajowa. The region is essentially an agrarian zone.
Investigations revealed that several thousands of people have experienced the wrath of the herdsmen in one form or the other in the last few years. There were reported as well as unreported cases of burning of farms and farm produce, rapes, cutting of hands and legs and maiming in various forms. According to those interviewed, the people in the area are helpless as it seems the situation is beyond even the police in that area. Some residents alleged that some of the community leaders are not helping matters as they compromise and mortgage the lives of the people of the area for materials gains. They equally alleged that the herdsmen are very powerful because they front for some influential people in the country adding that some of the cows they rear belong to people in authority.
According to the victims, cattle belonging to the Fulani-Bororo herdsmen graze on their crops instead of looking for grass for them thereby destroying the farmlands and preventing a bountiful harvest. On several occasions, the Fulani would set these farmlands on fire deliberately, including harvested produce met on the farms as well as barns containing harvested yams, leading to the loss of millions of naira. As a result, many farmers have abandoned their farms.
At Saki, the magazine was confronted with a barrage of petitions written over time to government at all levels and traditional councils against the herdsmen, seeking immediate solution to the problem. Among the petitions were those written by Saki Parapo, dated 26 March and 1 April 2010; Grassroots Agricultural Society, 23 February and 9 September 2009 and the one dated 18 March 2010 by A. Y. Aderogba and Co. to Oyo State Governor and captioned “Averting Communal Clash between Farmers and Fulani-Bororo Cattle Rearers”.
At Iseyin, the Jagun-Ode of Iseyin Local Government, Chief Ige Ologede, in the company of Olori-Ode of Iseyin, Chief Ogunleti Ogunsiji, lamented various attacks of Fulani-Bororo on the farmers saying that apart from several people being killed, destruction of farms by the cattle and setting of both farms and barns on fire, the herdsmen have also injured many people. Lauding Aseyin of Iseyin, Oba (Dr.) Abdu-Ganiyu Oloogunebi-Ajinase I, for his efforts in curbing the activities of the herdsmen, Ologede noted that the police could not even stand the herdsmen. He said, “Fulani-Bororo have people in Abuja. They have highly placed people around them and that is why they go free after committing crime.”
One of the victims of the Fulani-Bororo invaders, 30-year old Yakubu Adams, a resident of Otu who has four children and a wife, had his hand cut off on his farm situated at Igbojaiye area on Tuesday 12 February 2013. According to him, he was on his farm with one Segun working when a Bororo man of about 25 years of age led his cattle to his farm to graze. “I was begging him to take the cows away from my farm but he did not respond. He was just looking at me. At a point, he was harvesting my cassava for them. When I could not bear this anymore, I started driving the cows out of my farm and this annoyed the Bororo who engaged me in fight with a sword. I did not have anything to defend myself because I did not envisage such a thing that day. He was aiming at my head but God saved me. But he eventually cut of my hand and the Bororo man fled immediately with his cows”, he stated.
His shout attracted Segun who was on the other side of the farm and rushed down to help him. Segun rushed down to the hamlet to alert people who ran down to the farm and took the victim to the Otu Police Station from where he was taken to the General Hospital, Otu, where he spent about two months receiving treatment. He said, “In the pains after the attack, I managed to take my amputated hand with the hope that they would help me fix it in the hospital but they could not fix it and that is how I lost one of my two hands”, he explained. “The Itesiwaju Local Government paid N20, 000 out of the N50, 000 medical bills. My family raised the balance. Also, the council ensured that the culprit was arrested, prosecuted and sentenced to three years imprisonment”, Adams added.
Yakubu’s father, Baruba Adams, sought artificial hand for his son from kind-hearted individuals saying, “He needs help to put his family together because as things are now, he can no longer cultivate. He needs another job and I appeal for help from anyone for him”.
In the case of Ahmed Adeyoola, alias Sugar, a father of eight from three wives, he is not alive to tell his own story. He was gruesomely murdered on the farm by the Bororo. But his family members, Toheeb, 14 an SS 1 Student of Otu Community Grammar School who witnessed the murder of his father; the youngest wife, Isiyat, 30; a cousin, Lateef Salawudeen, 40 and the immediate younger brother to the deceased, Rasheed, told the story.
Toheeb disclosed that the incidence occurred on Easter Monday, 25 April 2011, when he accompanied the father to the farm. He said that the father first hunted around and killed a bird which he was frying when the Fulani-Bororo came with his cattle to graze on the farm and when the deceased resisted, the Fulani-Bororo brought out a knife and stabbed his father twice on the breast and on the back. The man slumped and died. He said, “We heard noise in the farm and by the time we got there, we saw my father wrestling with the Fulani-Bororo who eventually killed him and ran away with his cows. We had to rush and call another farmer very close to us for help but before we came, my father had died”.