By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA
There is apprehension in the country, following ethnic militias mobilisation for war, over the failure of the Federal Government and security forces failure to address rising insecurity in their domains.
It would be recalled that several parts of the country, particularly the Southwest, Southeast, North Central and the North West have been engulfed by violence carried out by Fulani herdsmen and criminal groups described as ‘bandits’.
These bandits carried out vicious attacks on local communities, displacing millions of people from their ancestral lands, killing hundreds, and kidnapping many for ransoms.
Ondo, Oyo, Ogun, Imo, Delta and Ebonyi in the South, as well as Kaduna, Sokoto, Zamfara and Benue States in the North are the epicenters of the vicious attacks.
However, the crisis took a dramatic turn recently when the Ondo State government, as well as a popular Yoruba freedom fighter, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly called Igboho, gave quit orders to killer herdsmen operating in Ondo and Oyo States.
While the furore generated by the quit order issued by the Ondo State government to killer herdsmen operating in reserved forests was countered before it snowballed into a major crisis, Sunday Igboho’s ultimatum to the Seriki Fulani of Igangan in the Oke Ogun area of Oyo State, Abdulkadir Saliu and his subjects turned violent, with reported loss of lives and properties.
Though, the Oyo and Ondo fiascos seem to have subsided, more trouble is brewing as aggrieved and agitated communities across the country are mobilising their militant youths to help fight rising insecurity and perceived injustice.
These calls for war and taking up of arms for self defense, BH learnt, is causing apprehension in political and military circles
Not yet done, Igboho on January 28 publicly announced that Ogun State will be his next destination to flush out criminal herdsmen.
The Igboho-born activist noted that he had heard about the criminal activities of herdsmen in the state who secured the help of military men to torment residents for rejecting them (herders) in their midst.
“What many people do not know about this whole issue is that it was God that wanted to liberate Ibarapa people from the captivity of herdsmen that I went there.
“The suffering that the people of Ibarapa were going through was brought to the fore by the death of Dr. Aborode. Aborode’s death exposed a lot of things going on in that area.
“Many have been killed and kidnapped there. We however thank God that normalcy has been restored gradually.
“By the grace of God, the remaining issues in Ogun State will be resolved, all criminal herdsmen in Ogun State should get prepared I am coming.
“I am more than what anybody can bribe or win over with money. I do not have any children in Nigeria that herdsmen can kidnap and no herdsmen can stop me on the way.
“Enough is enough, that is why I’m fighting this struggle. On this struggle, no going back,” Igboho declared.
Security sources who spoke with our correspondent on the development warned that Igboho’s threat should not be taken lightly.
According to them, Igboho and many militia groups scattered across the South West have the support of the people, right from the common men, to the political and traditional institutions.
A former commissioner of police from one of the South West states who did not want his identity disclosed, said he is aware of moves by the people to defend themselves from Fulani invaders, as well as other criminal elements operating in the region.
“It is unfortunate that the situation has been allowed to degenerate to this level. To worsen the matter, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari seems to be complicit.
“He has failed to reign in his murderous Fulani kinsmen. And our people are taking note.
“The mood in Yorubaland now is that if the government of the day can’t help them, they must come together to defend themselves. I fear a serious breach of peace which the government will not be able to handle.
“My worry is that they (militias) have the support of even people in positions of authority. I foresee a total breakdown of law and order if the precarious situation is not well handled”, warned the retired police chief.
In a move that seems to corroborate the stance of the retired police chief, a senior aide to Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, on Saturday said Sunday Igboho is welcomed in the state.
The Special Adviser on Public Communications to the governor, Remmy Hazzan, said any stakeholder who would help the security architecture of the state was welcome.
“Anybody who is hoping to help us with the security situation is welcome. Not only Sunday Igboho, whoever has what it takes to help us get security right is welcome in Ogun State”.
Agreeing that Igboho was not constitutionally empowered to issue quit notices, he argued that the helpless security situation of Ibarapa land warranted the move by the activist.
While calling for restructuring, Hazzan insisted that state governments should take full control of the security situation in their respective states.
Findings revealed that several other militias in the Southwest, particularly the Odua People’s Congress (OPC), Vigillante Group of Nigeria and the Agbekoya, are also mobilising to take on rampaging killer herdsmen tormenting the region.
The Coordinator of Oodua Union, Femi Robinson, said the security architecture in the country had collapsed and local security had become imperative.
“If Amotekun can disarm armed robbers, are they not helping the police? Yoruba people will maintain a united front on the issue of fighting insecurity and nothing can change that”, Robinson vowed.
Meanwhile, while the Igangan people in Oyo State appears to have won the first round, the displaced Fulani herdsmen, BH learnt are spoiling for war.
Several sources in the town disclosed that some evicted Fulani settlers have warned them to be prepared for reprisal attacks.
Though this could not be independently confirmed, locals told our correspondent that some aggrieved Fulani herdsmen displaced during Igboho’s liberation visit have called on the dreaded Bororo (Fulani) militia from Kogi, Edo and Kwara States to help revenge the assault on them.
According an Igangan resident who did not want his identity revealed for fear of being attacked, one of the sons of the displaced Seriki Fulani, Abdulkadir Saliu, posted on social media that the herders were coming to retaliate.
“Don’t worry, you will beg, and nobody will hear your plea. Just wait, Igboho will not be around to secure you every day”, the post read.
The message, it was learnt, sparked tension in the town. To ward off any attack, leaders of Igangan have imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on all communities in the town.
“Igangan is going smoothly, things are fine. The town imposed a curfew of 9 pm to 5 am just to secure lives and property.
“It was the joint decision of the monarch, his chiefs, council of elders and all the bodies and associations in Igangan.
“It was a consensus and everyone and anything from 9 pm, there would be a patrol. This is to prevent reprisal attacks.
“The Operation Burst has been deployed to resume patrol including the local vigilante group whom I know would not also go to sleep,” said the Convener of Igangan Development Advocates, Oladokun Oladiran.
While groups worried by the worsening insecurity in the Southwest are busy mobilising their men to take the battle to “foreign invaders”, their counterparts from the Southeast are also not leaving any stone unturned in ensuring that communities in Igboland are safe from bandits and Fulani herdsmen.
It was reliably gathered that militias such as the once dreaded Bakassi Boys and Movement for the Actualisation of a Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) are being revamped for the battle ahead, while the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which has already deployed it’s men to troubled spots, is spiting fire.
The leader of the group, Nnamdi Kanu, on Saturday, issued a 14-day ultimatum to Southeast governors to ban all forms of open grazing in the region.
The IPOB boss, who issued the notice through the group’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, warned that its security outfit would commence the enforcement of the anti-grazing law in the five Southeastern states if no action was taken at the expiration of the ultimatum.
“We wish to humbly and most submissively call upon all the governors of the East, to as a matter of urgency, ban all manner of open grazing in the region in compliance with the 1969 statutory law of #Nigeria that banned such provocative and primitive practice by Fulani herdsmen.
“The bold step taken by Yoruba governors in banning open grazing in their region is commendable and as such must be reciprocated and consolidated by a similar pronouncement in the East.
“If after 14 days there is no firm and decisive action by Eastern governors to ban open grazing in our land, #ESN will step into the breach to commence the enforcement of this 1969 Anti-Grazing Law across the entire region. Don’t say you were not informed or given prior warning”, Kanu warned.