There was palpable tension in Surulere local government area yesterday as rumour spread that a large number of Fulani bandits have occupied a government forest reserve area in Atooda village near Iresaadu, headquarters of Surulere local government in Ogbomoso zone of Oyo state.
The news created panic leading to general mobilization by elders and youths of the area to ward off any untoward situation just as farmers and villagers also quickly abandoned their houses to avoid being victims of attack.
However, the chairman of Surulere local government, Hon Isaiah Adegbite, has debunked the rumour saying there was no truth in it.
During a telephone call Hon Adegbite disclosed he heard the rumour too leading to prompt response from him, the council as a whole and elders in the area but that it was found out the Fulani there are the the herdsmen who have been living there peacefully with their hosts for years.
“I heard the rumour yesterday also that heavily armed bandits had occupied the government forest reserve area at Atooda village near Iresaadu.
“This is serious and we acted quickly by mobilizing security operatives there to confirm. But we found out it was not true.
“The Fulani people we found there are those who have been living there for long many as far back as 35 years ago. They are peaceful. We didn’t see any armed bandit.”
He further told ogbomosoinsightonline.com that he would meet with traditional rulers and elders in the area today, assuring “We will continue to monitor the situation so as not to be caught unawares.
“It is imperative we do not relax in the area of security, we must protect our people.”
Meanwhile, he said the farmers in the area complained bitterly of farm destructions by the herders whom they accused of grazing animals on their farms.
The council boss therefore revealed they would hold a meeting with the herdsmen today to dissuade them from continuing inflicting losses on the farmers through open grazing.
He added, “We will meet with the herders to stop destroying farms with their cattle and if they would not desist, we may not be able to prevent farmers from driving them away.
“The farmers disclosed the herdsmen used to pay compensation when they destroyed farms but that they are becoming intransigent as they now refuse to pay.
“We cannot continue to look on while something like this persists. A trade should not adversely affect another trade. There must be sanity,” he said.