Sunday Igboho: The Fulani war and rise of a liberator

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Femi OGUNLANA
The prevailing situation in Nigeria is a certain invite to men and women of steely hearts whose nature is repulsive to anything that bears semblance to oppressiveness and tyranny. Nigeria is presently redolent with insecurity being purveyed mainly by a tribe in the country believably in pursuit of an evil agenda of subjugation and domination of other tribes, termed “Fulanization Agenda” by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Chief Obasanjo by virtue of the position he held as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on two different occasions, knows what he is saying and so, his declaration isn’t something that can be dismissed with the wave of a hand. However, the assertion by Obasanjo did not raise any ruckus, no denial of the claim, which amounts to a subtle admittance. There is no doubt that the unfolding scenario in Nigeria is about getting to the culmination, that is the 204 years war initiated in 1804 by a Fulani cleric, Sheikh Othman Dan Fodio, in the guise of an Islamic Jihad against the then predominantly Hausa kingdoms in today’s Nigeria’s Northwest. The Othman Dan Fodio Islamic army succeeded to a great extent in defeating and subjugating the whole of the Hausa states and part of today’s north central, under Fulani rule. The jihadists however failed in Bornu and were unsuccessful in penetrating the heart of Yorubaland following its triumph at the military outpost of Ilorin occasioned by the treachery of Afonja against his supreme lord, Alaafin of Oyo.

Sunday Igboho when he stormed Ogun state


According to historical accounts meanwhile, the Fulani people are not indigenous to Nigeria, they migrated from Fouta Djallon, by which they poured into Nigeria in droves and into many other African countries. But they prospered in Nigeria owing to the successes of their military campaigns launched by Fodio in 1804 at Gobir, today’s Sokoto. The Yoruba army led by Ibadan and Ogbomoso inflicted a crushing defeat against them in 1840 at the battle of Osogbo, commanded by Balogun Oderinlo of Ibadan. The Tiv and other tribes also thwarted the Fulani’s drive into their region by proving insurmountable. Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, after assassination attempt on his life by suspected Fulani herders recently, declared: “They want to take over Benue and make us slaves. That is what they have been trying since the days of our forefathers. Our forefathers stopped them in 1804, they cannot take over our land. They are not coming to Benue to graze cattle, they are only using that as a way to gain access into the state. God opened my eyes to understand their intentions”

Igboho (right) with his supporters addressing the youths of Ibara
Part of his razed house


But the Fulani never relented, they have ever persisted in their bid to overrun the whole place and be the dominant power and master of the land. The founding of Nigeria in 1914 where they found themselves grouped with other tribes, the lands of whom they had targeted for long, only reinvigorated their desire and since then, the battle had continued on their part, ever coveting the lush lands to the south of their base in Nigeria. The alleged Fulanization Agenda came full swing in the wake of the assumption of office of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. Perhaps Buhari is seen as the last “Fulani emperor” that can notch this evil goal of complete suppression of other tribes in Nigeria. Greed only leads to destruction, for in the present circumstances, they had seized total control of Nigeria. From the military to all security agencies, to the economy, political power to most things valuable, they control everything. But they want land and this unbridled desire is what is bringing the whole country harm’s way.
Suddenly, Fulani militia, disguised as herdsmen and put in an unenviable position of fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world by Global Terrorism Index as far back as 2014, the classification the group has continued to maintain, began to commit heinous crimes which ranged from murders, kidnapping, rape, destruction of farmlands, occupation of ancestral lands of their hosts to armed robberies etc. Thousands of people have fallen victims of their swords (and now Ak-47 assault rifles), in the last few years. So mindless and heartless are they in these dastardly acts that many cringe at their appearance, the consequence of which is gradual abandonment of crop farming activities down south. What woman wants to become victim of rape on her way to farm or in her farm or what man wants to incur huge loss in the name of farming or altogether loses his life! It is so bad! Yet, the Federal Government being led by Buhari brazenly looks the other way as these evils are perpetrated; the Fulani perpetrators are never made to face the wrath of the law, most times they go scot free while the victims if they attempt to defend themselves against these rampaging bandits are apprehended. The Iskilu Wakili case in Ibarapa, Oyo state is a case point here. A Fulani crime kingpin, Iskilu was recently captured by operatives of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) in Ayete, along with some of his cohorts, with damning evidences against him. But what followed? His captors who took him to the police headquarters were rather detained on trumped up charges and are now facing criminal charges of murder and arson. Such outrageous acts by the Fulani-inspired cabal that rules the country have made the people accuse them of pampering the Fulani bandits at the expense of security in the land. Acts like these are possible owing to their successful seizure of all levers of security agencies in the country.
Repeated calls for restructuring of the country by patriots and nationalists have fallen on deaf ears. But the reason for this is not farfetched; the present arrangement suits their agenda. Restructuring will slide the control of security apparatuses from their grip, will make them lose grip on political control they painstakingly annexed over many years, will make them yield the economic power they had cornered, will reintroduce resource control and make many undue advantages slip from them. They are never patriots but rebels of the commonwealth that is Nigeria. The present arrangement is thus a suitable platform for them to clinch their unrealistic dream of complete domination of all tribes making up Nigeria. Their perpetual hold on to power since 1960 when the nation got independence has however been a misfortune because their prime drive is never to achieve a prosperous country, it is rather to maintain a stranglehold on power in demonstration of their lifelong motto of “Born to rule.” Even southerners who had assumed the seat of power led according to the whims of the Fulani cabal, the cabal always looks for compliant individuals from the south, who will do its biddings to the detriment of the prosperity of the nation. That explains why Yoruba politicians like late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, late Chief Moshood Abiola and Chief Olu Falae were never allowed to lead Nigeria.
It is now unfolding that famine is part of the strategy they had mapped out to achieve their evil plot, taking a holistic look at the events of recent times. The herders are destroying farms and preventing farmers to engage in farming. That is a perfect scheme for invitation to farming; added to that is the food blockade by northern farmers in February against the southern states and then the closing of southwest borders by the Federal Government since over a year ago with exemption however given to Alhaji Aliko Dangote’s economic interests, yet yanking open those of the north or how did hundreds of camels bearing men and goods sweep into Kano recently? There is more than meet the eyes! A keen mind will know that all that is happening is not happenstance but a deliberate plot to give vim to the Fulanization Agenda that has gone on for over 200 years. Give it to the Fulanis, they are painstaking, unrelenting, scheming, politically savvy and patient! On their part, the war that started as Jihad never ended, while their “enemies” went to sleep in the thought that the era of peace and a new order had dawned. The Fulani surreptitiously continued to wage the war, which has now reached another crescendo. The common phrase today is that Fulani militia have infiltrated and surrounded the whole of southwest, their number swelled by foreign Fulani terrorists, launching coordinated invasions, seizing lands and gaining in ascendancy. The situation looked bad and frightening. Such is a fertile ground for breeding of freedom fighters and liberators but who are always branded treasonable felonious individuals and rebels by the ruling junta. The junta never sees its horrendous engagements as rebellious against the health of the nation they purport to lead. The philosophy in which it is embedded seems to be, see no evil when you are complicit but fight evil when it doesn’t serve your purpose. It holds back security operatives from fighting insecurity inflicted by its protected band and so the heist multiplies in multiple folds but the same operatives become overzealous when the victims seek to protect themselves. That is the backdrop against the rise of Sunday Adeyemo popularly known as Sunday Igboho.
Sunday Igboho actually isn’t an unknown entity prior this time, he has carved a niche for himself as a powerful individual who frowns and fights imposition of oppressive tendencies against the weak. He is believed to be metaphysically fortified through his ancestors. A native of Igboho in Oke-Ogun area of Oyo state, and born on October 10, 1972, Sunday Igboho had his childhood and early adulthood in Modakeke, Osun state, where he actively participated in the Ife-Modakeke War of the late 1990s and early 2000s, fighting on the side of Modakeke. According to him, he joined the war following the attempt by the Ifes to burn his father’s house in Modakeke. He later relocated to Ibadan, where he became a business mogul and fringe politician. He became very successful in Ibadan, dealing in sales of cars.
His life is characterized by propensity to bearing the cudgel on behalf of the cheated and oppressed; the story of how he challenged former governor Lam Adesina of Oyo state when his convoy jumped queue at a filling station in Ibadan years ago, is well known. The power granted him he applies to positive ventures; he never is known to pursue negative ends, perhaps that explains his longevity in the game. It is therefore not a surprise that he sticks out his neck to checkmate the harm being brought the way of his Yoruba kinsmen. He first came to national consciousness when he daringly issued quit notice to an alleged crime mastermind in Igangan area of Ibarapa zone of Oyo state early this year, the notorious Seriki Fulani of Igangan, Alhaji Saliu Abdulkadir. He gave the Seriki a seven-day ultimatum to leave the community. The Seriki was alleged to have committed many heists and is alleged of being the linchpin of many criminals of Fulani extraction in the area. The quit notice sounded like an empty threat, governments at various levels condemned Igboho for this audacity and even threatened him with arrest citing all manner of relevant portions of the constitution as reference points. The Seriki on his part took the quit order with a pinch of salt assured in the protection offered by the police, and so, stayed put in Igangan. The day came and Sunday Igboho carried out his threat, he stormed the community with his boys, addressed a tumultuous crowd in Igangan and left. However, the moment he departed the victimized town the anger of the youths in the town boiled over and they invaded the Seriki’s residence, razing it to the ground. Precipitately, the alleged marauding kingpin escaped narrowly but his younger brother was not so lucky, he lost his life in the melee, so the Seriki stated.
The action infuriated the powers that be and on the spur of the moment the arrest of Sunday Igboho was ordered. Sheu Garba, President Muhammadu Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, proclaimed that the Inspector General of Police had given order for the arrest of Igboho. Though this was never effected. Igboho waited for the police to make its move, boasting however that he had no apprehension of being apprehended. With this incident, Sunday Igboho, the liberator, began to unravel. He increasingly became bent on liberating his Yoruba people from the oppressive regime and Fulani race. Difficult times produce tough people and every generation produces its heroes. When injustice, oppression, inequality, malevolence and ethnic hatred become rife in a nation, a wedge capable of subverting the basis of that country is inadvertently forged. Coercion and liberation coexist but it is puzzling why the tyrant that dispenses coercive forces is often opposed to agents seeking liberation. To say Nigeria is in shambles with people being inflicted without abatement with depression and despondency is to make reference to the obvious. Only few privileged, who have no scruple joining the bandwagon of corruption in all ramifications appropriate the commonwealth for their selfish ends, condemning the vast majority to humongous suffering and misery manifested in huge unemployment situation. In fact, a report by the National Bureau of Statistics recently stated that unemployment rate in Nigeria rose to 33.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020 translating into over 40million persons of the working group (15-64 years of age) are without jobs in the country, the highest anywhere in the world; high cost of food compounded by the Fulani herdsmen’s disruptive activities, a development cutting down the scale of farming activities especially in the south as farmers have become targets of wanton killings, kidnapping and rape; spiraling inflation; and all that detract from comfortable living. The Nigerian nation is unable to provide stable electricity, pipe-borne water, good roads cum good transportation systems, quality education system, high cost of doing business etc. Though described as the giant of Africa and boasting the biggest economy in the continent, the indices say to the contrary even as Nigeria is ranked the poverty capital of the world, this is amid a preponderant of natural resources.
The situation is bleak with no light appearing to be blinking at the end of the tunnel. Men of goodwill become downcast and frustrated leading to quest for liberation. Many Yoruba intelligentsia thus began to feel agitated, convinced that the country could not be allowed to continue in this way, that it is either it is restructured along true federalism or regionalism as operated in the First Republic or the Yoruba break away to form a separate country already given the name Oodua Republic. Thus, from issuing eviction order to the Fulani hordes ravaging and plundering Yoruba land, Sunday Igboho switched to agitation for self-determination’s advocacy. The view of a Yoruba group captures the essence of the struggle: “Our collective mind is already made up on the quest for self-determination for Yoruba nation. We have suffered unquantifiable degradation under the so-called Federal Republic of Nigeria which has destroyed our economy, education, and social life while our survival as a people is threatened by the Fulani.” Truly, when light is beamed on the kind of the progressive government instituted by the Western Region prior and during the First Republic under the administrations of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and late Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola, it would certainly be concluded that remaining yoked with the so-called Nigeria does more harm than good. The poser therefore is that won’t Yoruba nation fare better if run on the basis of a restructured Nigeria or as a new country entirely!
Sunday Igboho has emerged the leading proponent for the founding of Oodua nation hinging his advocacy on the need to liberate Yorubaland from the clutches of oppression and tyranny imposed through the Fulani hegemony. He has demonstrated uncommon courage, persistence and perseverance. When needs be, he becomes loquacious to drive home his message, to drum up support for the struggle, disparaging whoever crosses the line, perceived or real, leaders who show aversion to the dream of liberating Yoruba race. He once lampooned the revered Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi for visiting President Muhammadu Buhari and coming back to enjoin a tempering of emotion by agitators, saying government would handle the situation. Sunday Igboho had satirized Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Rasheed Akanbi for his inclination to embracing the criminal Fulani herdsmen. He thrashes about; committed too deeply into the struggle than to be hampered by people he described as Fulani slaves. Of late he initiated a sensitization campaign across the southwest stirring awareness among the commoners on the realization of the Yoruba nation. He is hammering that the Yoruba cannot continue in a nation where it is vulnerable to Fulanis’ sadistic designs and where the potentials of its people are perpetually hamstrung. If the Fulani and their cousins, the Hausas, are in tandem with retrogression, not the Yoruba people, they will rather seek self-determination. He is teaming up with other Yoruba patriots and groups who have equally become despondent with the Nigerian narrative. Chief of this is Professor Banji Akintoye, who is the leader of Ilana Omo Yoruba socio-cultural group. Few weeks ago, he with Banji Akintoye, a reputable historian, declared the founding of the Yoruba nation noting that Oodua Republic is now a separate country. It was another audacious move. Shortly after, a Yoruba currency named, “Fadaka,” or “Fad,” was launched, Oodua flags have been hoisted and are fluttering at strategic places across the southwest. Only two weeks ago, a security outfit for Oodua Republic was launched in Ogun state, codenamed, “Operation Paramole.” Paramole is a poisonous snake that glides dangerously about in the country. The vehicle that is Nigeria is dangerously tottering towards irreparable fall, yet the powers that be take no notice, believing in its coercive powers to blow away the secession agitators at the fullest of time.
But Igboho has shown no inclination towards relenting, he once declared, “I am a warrior, I do not fear for my life.” At another time he emphasized, “Nigeria is a goner, Yoruba nation has come to stay.” Sunday Igboho has become the symbol of the liberation movement the vast majority of Yoruba people are seeking. One of his houses in Ibadan was burnt down by unknown arsonists; a combined team of DSS, Police, Army and Civil Defense operatives, had attempted to whisk him away when they waylaid him on his way to Lagos few weeks ago but his boys fiercely resisted the attempt; he once got hold of men in army uniform allegedly casing his residence in Ibadan; he has rebuffed invitations letter from the IGP to come to Abuja. He had been poured scorn on by some Yoruba governors over the cause he is ardently fighting for. Governors Rotimi Akeredolu and Dapo Abiodun of Ondo and Ogun states respectively told him pointblank not to venture into their states but he had since visited the two states in furtherance of his struggles. Several others have tried to take the sail out of his campaigns affirming he is only looking for cheap popularity, and a plot to scam the unsuspecting and that he is clandestinely working for politicians in view of the forthcoming 2023 general elections; some even dismissed him as a confused illiterate. He has been exposed to ridicule, to danger and all despicable situations. But he trudges on like a Trojan, like a liberator he is.
For a keen and analytical mind, the dangers against the south are real. In February, in the wake of an ethnic clash in Shasha Ibadan between Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba people as a result of the killing of a Yoruba cobbler by an Hausa man, a northern group demanded a huge compensation from the Federal Government over the losses the group claimed northern traders suffered in the two-way mayhem and consequently imposing a food blockade against the south when the Federal Government dillydallied in meeting its demand. This action no doubt unveils a sinister pattern, foreshadowing what is to come in the future. Herdsmen destroy farms in the south on the excuse of feeding cows, attack farmers found on the farm, rape women, kidnap people, inflicting all manner of contemptible atrocities that trigger deterrence to farming activities and thereby increasing the chance of food shortage in the south. Deterring food production and now imposing food blockade, isn’t that a ploy to make the south crawl to them to beg and making the region prostrate and be at their mercy? But it failed. The northern ruling elite that is behind most of the woes assailing Nigeria, is certainly and insatiably fueling an evil agenda. It obsessively maintains a firm grip on power even southerners who had led Nigeria did so on the terms dictated by this notorious cabal. The ultimate goal might as well be the total subjugation and domination of the whole country by the Fulani tribe, what they have gained so far isn’t satisfactory to them – greed continues to drive them and is certain to push them to destruction.
Aare Kamorudeen Okikiola, President-General of the Agbekoya Farmers’ Association, in an interview with City People Magazine, gave further insight into this, when he said inter-alia: “Tactically, they now invited Fulani to come and kill us. Because if you can’t go to work, you can’t produce and there is no government loan to back up. The government is not even helping at all…”
Aare Okikiola again stated: “During (the time of) Femi Adesina (as Minister for Agriculture during the regime of President Goodluck Jonathan), we have started producing a lot of cassava-like bread and the rest, and immediately the north realized this and the Buhari government came on board we couldn’t see cassava flour again. They destroyed everything. They made sure they destroyed it. The government is fighting underground but we won’t give up.
V“We wanted to do cassava chips, they came from Holland. The Nigerian government called those guys from Holland to come to the north and those people came back and informed us they called them from Nexim Bank. And that is how the government is frustrating farmers here.”
In a similar vein, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, during a meeting Oyo state governor, Seyi Makinde held with traditional rulers and heads of security operatives, stressed that the destructive activities of herdsmen have become a limiting factor to farming activities in the region, aiming a dig at the Police, saying suspected herdsmen arrested for criminal activities are often set free.
“We the traditional rulers are stakeholders. In our community and villages, those being killed are our wives and children. Our daughters and women are those being raped. They are killing our people. We cannot relocate to Ibadan in search of protection.
V“All the suspected criminals that we arrested through our own local intelligence in the forests, we handed them over to the police. They were arrested for kidnapping, rituals, and so on. But we usually see them on the third day, walking around the street.
“70 per cent of our farmers in Ibarapa and Oke Ogun have abandoned their farmlands. People are no more farming. Since 2018, we the traditional rulers have not been sleeping with our two eyes closed since they started the Jihad. They have been kidnapping kings too.
“When they kidnapped the Baba-Aso of Igbole, we the traditional rulers were the ones that contributed money for ransom and paid before the monarch, his wife and child were freed. We have secured the release of many victims. We have our own vigilante in the forests. We buy 10 bags of garri, 10 bags of semovita and so on for the vigilante in the forests. We would not declare our operation modality until after the arrest of the suspects and we hand them over to the police. ..None of those arrested and handed over to the police had been jailed.”
Such infractions (though they will not admit it, if confronted they will explain it away) are undeniable trigger for insurrections, for yearning for self-determination, which is a guaranteed right. Injustice, inequality, nepotism, lack of fairness, oppression, tyranny and such diabolical tendencies nurture progressively the tree of revolution. That is the circumstance that produced Sunday Igboho. And there are millions others who find the situation highly repugnant, who are likewise seething with fury over the deplorable development, something tantamount to being made slaves in one’s own home. The army of discontent people that might pour into the streets in Yorubaland if the situation continues to worsen will shock the purveyors of oppression even as Sunday Igboho had predicted. Give it to him, he has succeeded in waking his people to the pitiable condition they had sunk into; he has created awareness, he has brought focus on the unhealthy situation that has permeated the land, and so, the sleeping giant is being awakened. The little success that had been achieved in the fight against Fulani herdsmen terrorism on the part of government is largely due to his effort.
Irrespective of the outcome of his struggle, like Moses, George Washington, Dae Jo Young and other liberators the world had seen, he has etched his name in the history books. Moses stammered irritably but he was chosen to lead the Israelites out of the Egyptian bondage; George Washington was a farmer, without military training, yet he was chosen to lead the American War of Independence from Great Britain which was about the major superpower of the world at the time; Dae Jo Young liberated his people from the yoke of the Great Tang (China) rule, and so is it with many others. They all came against intimidating odds and intense opposition, bitter slandering and vilification but the overwhelming passion which enveloped them blinded and deafened them to the torrential vituperations of those opposed to them.
Sunday Igboho irrespective of the outcome of his struggle now occupies a place in the pantheon of great Yoruba legendary warlords like Aare Toyeje Akanni Alebiosu, Balogun Oderinlo, Aare Kurunmi, Balogun Ibikunle and others who bravely fought against the Fulani invaders.
Igboho doesn’t believe in failure, he speaks with assurance that the Yoruba nation is born. He seems to be godly sent, and so he is goaded on without fear. He even says if he dies in the struggle his children will be happy that they had a gallant man as a father, and not a weakling.

Sunday Igboho has become the scourge of the Fulani marauders. For him the Fulani war is ongoing and he will not be found cringing in fear. To him, it is just a matter of time before the dream is physically actualized.

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