Before Oyo turns to another Benue

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Femi OGUNLANA
The dastardly act that occurred in the night of Saturday, June 5, 2021, which spilled into the wee hours of Sunday, June 6, 2021, perhaps foreshadows what is to come. Benue state in the North Central zone of Nigeria is a region that is gravely entwined in an orgy of mindless and atrocious killings and maiming by Fulani bandits and herdsmen. Thousands of Benue people have lost their lives to the carnage since it started in about 2015 and the situation has remained unabated; it grows from worse to worst. Only last week, about 10 persons were again hacked down in cold blood by the criminal herders. All the save-our-soul cries by the governor of the state, Gabriel Ortom, traditional rulers, Benue elders and other leaders of the state have not been hearkened to.

People fleeing their homes


The Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani man, and security agencies have continued to remain passive in yielding to the strident appeals to combat the insecurity situation. Indeed, President Buhari urged a delegation of leaders of thought from Benue state who paid him a visit after a gruesome attack in 2018 which left many dead that they should learn to accommodate their “neighbours.”

During an attack


He had told the grieving and devastated Benue delegates: “Your Excellency, the governor, and all the leaders here, I am appealing to you to try to restrain your people. I assure you that the Police, the Department of State Security and other security agencies had been directed to ensure that all those behind the mayhem get punished.

Terrorists


“I ask you in the name of God to accommodate your country men. You can also be assured that I am just as worried, and concerned with the situation.”
Buhari directed the Inspector General Police (IGP) to relocate to the state at the time to fish out the perpetrators but the IGP never obeyed the instruction, and later Buhari claimed he did not know his words were not adhered to and the IGP was never sanctioned. And up till today, no culprit has been apprehended not to talk of being prosecuted in spite of several other killings in the state. That is instructive! It only reflects the shambolic manner the powers-that-be take the issue of security of life and property and how they despise doing the needful in curtailing the insane bloodletting. Whether we accept it or not it all points to one thing – executive backing for the bloodsheds. It is not a coincidence that thousands of Benue people and elsewhere have died thereafter in the hands of the terrorists, whose ultimate aim from the unfolding scenarios is subjugation of other tribes in Nigeria, taking over their lands for cattle herding and taking over their wives for forced marriages.

During a mass burial in Benue state


The trend has been that after the criminal herders wrecked havoc the government will meet it with inaction just as the security agents will not respond to distress calls but when the people attempt to defend themselves, government and security forces suddenly find their voices and guns to tie the victims down and even start to arrest them. Three of the OPC members who participated in apprehending Iskilu Wakilu, an alleged notorious Fulani herder in Ayete earlier this year are still in police detention while the suspected criminal is walking free. There is no doubt that there is a high level conspiracy towards the alleged aim of subjugation by the Fulani.

One of the victims of Igangan massacre identified as Kehinde


Igangan attack
Another victim of Igangan attack

The criminals seemingly are using Ibarapa zone to test run the larger scale attacks across the whole of Oyo state they had planned. Oyo state people are the ones at the receiving end and they are the ones that should rise to the occasion. The government hasn’t displayed much concern or approach the matter with the required urgency and political will towards combating the worsening security situation. Everybody knew the Igangan attack that finally came last Saturday will happen but the state government and the police took no measure to forestall it. More so, the Oyo state chairman of the Western Nigerian Security Network codenamed “Amotekun,” General Kunle Togun (retd.), who was a former Director of Military Intelligence revealed last week while delivering a lecture titled, “Insecurity Challenge: Holistic Approach and the Significance of Regional Security Dimensions,” at the Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies Students Association (IPSSSA), University of Ibadan, that foreign Fulani herdsmen had infiltrated the Southwest and are bidding their time to launch deadly strikes. Actually, he was only echoing what others had unveiled in the past.
He had said, “They (foreign herdsmen) were told that Allah has given Nigeria to them as heritage. So their plans are to take over what they claimed Allah had given them, including Yorubaland.”
He added, “There will soon be problem in the Southwest. These foreign Fulani herdsmen would soon come for the purpose of taking over Nigeria. This is because they (Fulani) have the backing of some people in government.” It is therefore illuminating to note that few days after, the herdsmen struck in Igangan killing about fifty residents, burning close to sixty houses and several vehicles.
The government has proven incompetent in curtailing the rampaging marauders and so, people must be vigilant and organize themselves into defence leagues and more importantly, rely less on government security agencies, whose headships are obviously working in concert with the terrorists thus bending their men from acting professionally and in consistency with the constitutional provisions.
Much lies in the hands of the ordinary people. It is them that will be the butt of the carnage when it comes, the politicians will run away eventually, are their children living in Nigeria now? So, the rich, patriotic people in various communities need to clandestinely support vigilante groups and other traditional security apparatuses to defend their people. Nobody is immune from the looming Armageddon if it happens. Intelligence gathering is vital, strange faces should be reported to security agencies and if those ones will not act in consonance with their callings community leaders and local security groups should be alerted.

Oyo governor Engr. Seyi Makinde showing inadequate response to attacks by herdsmen


Benue state is deep in the throes of butchery ignited by these criminal intransigent herdsmen, only yesterday about 50 Benue people were massacred again with the Federal Government feeling unconcerned; many refugee camps have been opened in Benue, daily receiving fleeing displaced people. Many in Igangan have fled their homes too with several now afraid to return. That is the modus operandi of the Fulani herdsmen, after consistent onslaughts, owners of the land will abandon their homes and they will take over. It has begun in Igangan, a little spark unattended to, flares into difficult-to-control conflagrations. Crushing defeat like it happened in 1840 at Osogbo is the only language these rampaging jihadists understand. Understanding with them is waste of time and resources.
Professor Banji Akintoye, leader of Egbe Ilana Omo Oodua, the apex Yoruba self-determination group, charged the Yoruba youths to prepare for “technological, spiritual and physical warfare.” He stressed the Fulani herdsmen’s attacks should never be allowed to succeed anywhere in Yorubaland again.
On a final note, this is not the time to reason with the terrorists and this is not the time to wish the impending evil away or be hamstrung by some constitutional objections which they used to turn Benue into a one-sided killing field. Oyo must not become another Benue!

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