The Executive Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, had stirred the hornet’s nest penultimate week when he issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Fulanis living as herders inside the forests and settlements in the state to vacate their abodes and leave the state. Since he gave out this quit notice reactions, positive and negative, had trailed the surprising move at mass eviction of an ethnic group living and eking out a living in areas far away from their ancestral homeland.
The Federal Government, notorious for gaffe, had reacted controversially to the Akeredolu decision by picking holes in it. Garba Shehu, the presidential spokesman, had issued a statement frowning at what he said was not in accord with the constitution. Since the retired General from Daura came to power democratically, himself a Fulani and an executive herder, the Fulanis seemed to be favoured above every other ethnic group in Nigeria!
Before the dust raised by the Ondo Governor’s edict could die down another Fulani-herdsmen-indigenes relationship imbroglio another one-week ultimatum was given to the Fulanis residing in some areas of Oyo State to leave was issued by a so-called Odua Republic militant, Sunday Adeyemo,alias Igboho. He was reported to have handed over the quit diktat to the Fulanis (especially those in Ibarapa and Igangan areas) blaming them for the worsening cases of kidnapping and killings in the state.
He also accused the Seriki-Fulani of Igangan community in Ibarapa, Alhaji Saliu Abdulkadir, of colluding with the suspected killer herdsmen and taking shares from the ransoms they got from families of their abducted victims. Days following the quit order Igboho led some youths (thugs and area boys) to the Seriki-Fulani home where violence erupted. In the ensuing mayhem lives and properties were reportedly lost.
Alhaji Saliu Abdulkadir and his family members were forced to flee their household taking refuge in the bush and leaving behind a burnt house, cars and cows! He had since relocated as tension rose to a frightening level.
Despite the threat of arrest by the tactless Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, and the Police Inspector-General Igboho the ‘outlaw’ was able to mobilize his ‘troop’ to attack the Fulanis. Since then Igboho has suddenly become a celebrity, nay hero, attracting wild publicity and speaking up without fear or favour.
Yet the problem with this kind of quit notice is that it goes against the spirit of the constitution. No Nigerian living anywhere in the country should be asked or forced to go to their ancestral homes. If every ethnic group should retreat to their ancestral homelands then the real intention of a federation and the constitution would be defeated.
While we concede that some marauding Fulani herdsmen had committed unspeakable acts of terror and horror in lands other than theirs it is not enough to justify the issuance of generalized quit notice. That is tantamount to classifying every Fulani found in Yorubaland as a criminal or terrorist!
If the Fulanis should reciprocate the gesture by asking the Yorubas living up north to relocate or face the consequencies then the ingredient of war or social disharmony would have been sown, one capable of igniting fire and fury on the streets or bushes.
Governor Akeredolu was wrong for calling for the Fulanis in the state’s forests to leave. Sunday Igboho was criminally wrong to have issued the quit notice to the Fulanis. He was equally wrong to have led anarchists to the Fulani leader’s residence unleashing terror.
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The major problem here remains that the country is not governed properly. President Muhammadu Buhari, a known Fulani apologist, has elevated nepotism to a statecraft! His executive actions and inactions tended to show his preference for his tribal roots and religion. He exhibits no leadership by this type of open favouritism and reckless attitude towards the national imposition of the Fulani will on the rest of us.
Unless the embattled President retraces his presidential steps then the nation is doomed. A national conflagration could become a direct consequence of ignoring the grievances of other components of the federation and open manifestation of apathy to their marginalisation complaints.
Anarchy could be bred if the Igbohos of this world are allowed to supplant constituted authorities by imposing their thuggish or mob mentality. He must be reigned in or made to face the full wrath of the law.
Let the Fulanis in Yorubaland be. Those of them perpetrating crime should be fished out and punished. Jungle justice or self-help breeds anarchy. No matter how strong we feel about the safety of our people or how genuine our collective concern to secure them singling out any ethnic group for vilification or attack amounts to injustice.
We refuse to see all Fulanis as criminals — kidnappers, bandits, terrorists, rapists or arsonists. Individual or group enforcement of the law (even in a lawless society as ours) must be condemned.
AUTHOR: SOC Okenwa…