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Several communities in Kwara State are now reviewing their security strategies following the increasing inflow of herdsmen and their families from the neighbouring states of Oyo, Ekiti and Osun.
The herders’ relocation arose from the ban on night grazing across the Southwest, the quit order from government forest reserves in Ondo State, and the campaign against criminal herders in Ibarapa area of Oyo State.
The ECOWAS Court of Justice, Abuja on Friday fixed April 12 for judgment in a suit filed by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) seeking “justice and accountability for the authorities’ failure to prevent, account for and investigate killings, raping, maiming of Nigerians and other residents, and destruction of property across the country by herdsmen and other unknown perpetrators.”
A panel of discussants also asked government to take decisive action on the incessant clashes between farmers and herders in the country before the situation degenerates.
Residents of Ifelodun, Irepodun and Isin local government areas of Kwara State, according to investigation, are currently taking stock of their security arrangements with a view to checking any threat to life and property following the relocation of herders to the localities.
A group, Omo Ibile Igbomina, an association of Igbomina people, said yesterday that six trailer loads of herders arrived the area penultimate Friday alone, causing anxiety among the locales.
He said that even before the arrival of the new comers, farmers had always been clashing with herders who seemed to take delight in taking their cattle to graze on farms.
Spokesman for the Omo Ibile Igbomina, Oni Martin, said: “Farming remains foremost of our economic activities that has become endangered, arising from mindless criminality, impunity and wanton destruction of crops and human lives right on our ancestral soil.
“We had a day when these gang of heartless strangers killed our people in broad day light on a particular market day in Oro-Ago town, for instance.
“We have series of reports of herdsmen chasing out our farmers out of their farms, for daring to challenge them for feeding their beasts with their source of living.
“Worrisome enough, the herdsmen have appeared to make it a vogue to array themselves with terribly sharpened cutlasses, assault walking sticks and of course assault rifles.
“This intimidation and threat appeared worse on the farms as these strangers exhibit no reservation to make their beast comfortable to the sorrow of our farmers even to the point of terminating lives.
“All of the above has been our routine experience and the herdsmen have taken over our forests and farmlands with our people living in fear of being kidnapped or hacked down.
“With the above background, the National Body of Omo Ibile Igbomina with all has been on consultations in a bid to arrest the ugly development.”
Continuing, Martin said: “All of a sudden on the 29th of January, 2021, we heard the news of the arrival of an uninvited army of more dreaded herdsmen, more ferocious looking than those we had been trying to manage.
“They came in six trailers to Igbomina land.
“Thank God for the vigilant patriots who intercepted them at the wee-hour of the day at a point between Buari and Okerimi Oro.
“Our people’s reaction was spontaneous and responsible: the Women Farmers Association in Oro stormed the palace of the Oloro of Oro to find a lasting solution to the situation.
“These people who were driven out from the Southwest states of Osun, Ogun, Ekiti and Oyo could not and will not be allowed to use any part of Igbomina land as their new abode.
Igbomina will not concede an inch of her land to these unwanted visitors.”
”In view of the above, it is our resolution that our community remains peaceful, law abiding but alert to security threats.
“Strangers should spontaneously be reported to our traditional rulers, and if unresolved, to the security agencies.
“Let our people go to the farm as a team and avoid staying late on the farm much less doing a lone ranger farming.”
Residents of Igbaja in Ifelodun local government area of the state also recently staged a peaceful protest at the palace of the traditional ruler of the ancient town, the Elesee to draw attention to alleged intimidation and destruction of their farms by herders.
The head of the Fulani community in Igbaja, Mallam Abubakar Garba, said in an interview that some of the accusations were true, but implored the natives to be patient, saying deliberate efforts were being made to address the matter.
Garba expressed his sadness over situation of security in the communities, calling for dialogue to ensure amicable resolution.
The state government also called for peace across the state.
Secretary to the State Government, Prof Mamman Sabbah Jubril, said: “In the light of some unfortunate developments in some neighbouring states, we urge our people not to entertain any fear as proactive measures have been, and are still being, taken to maintain peace and ensure security of lives and properties of every resident.
“The government is working with all the security agencies, directors of personnel management (DPMs) and the leadership of Miyetti Allah to strengthen the existing peace between various economic interests.”
“At the instance of His Excellency the Governor of Kwara State, the office of the SSG has held briefings with various stakeholders across the state on the need to ensure that all hands are on deck to protect lives and properties.
“The leadership of Miyetti Allah has also committed to disallow night grazing or cattle grazing by underage persons. Assisted by the security agencies, the DPMs across the 16 local government areas have been directed to work with local communities and legitimate herders to keep the peace.
“We therefore urge everyone to key into this peace building process and to avoid taking laws into their own hands or engage in activities that can undermine peaceful coexistence.”
FG using back channels to resolve crisis, says Lai Mohammed
Speaking yesterday on efforts by the federal government to resolve securitychallenge in the country, Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed said different approaches were being adopted.
One of such is what he called back channels; that is the use of a third party to broker peace. He cited this week’s meeting between renowned Islamic scholar, Sheikh Abubakar Mahmoud Gumi and bandits terrorising Zamfara State.
“When you want to resolve an issue like this, you use lots of back channels,” the minister said. He spoke on TVC’s ‘This Morning’ show.
He added: “It is not unusual for a respected cleric to have the confidence of (approaching) outlaws or bandits.
“As a matter of fact, they are probably ready to listen to him more than they are ready to listen to the government. They are probably ready to believe him more.”
ECOWAS Court rules on herdsmen’s killings suit, others April 12
The ECOWAS Court of Justice, Abuja on Friday fixed April 12 to deliver judgment in a suit filed by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) against the federal government on the killing of Nigerians by herdsmen and others.
The court fixed the date for judgment after hearing arguments from solicitor to SERAP, Femi Falana (SAN), and the government lawyer, Adedayo Ogundele.
In the suit, SERAP is seeking “justice and accountability for the authorities’ failure to prevent, account for and investigate killings, raping, maiming of Nigerians and other residents, and destruction of property across the country by herdsmen and other unknown perpetrators.”
In the suit No ECW/CCJ/APP/15/16, SERAP argued that, “the continuing attacks, killings, raping, maiming of Nigerians and other residents, and destruction of property by the military, police, herdsmen and other unknown perpetrators across the country amount to serious violations of human rights of the rights to life, to the security and dignity of the human person, and to property.”
Femi Falana, arguing the case, said: “The government has not denied the serious averments by SERAP. The government is responsible for the unlawful killings by herdsmen and other unknown perpetrators, which have not been adequately prevented, investigated or prosecuted by the authorities.
“These responsibilities are heightened when an observable pattern has been overlooked or ignored, such as is the case in this suit.”
The learned silk also argued: “The government has a responsibility to protect and ensure the security of life and property of everyone in Nigeria.
“It is not enough for the government to say that civil cases have been brought by some of the victims. “The government has a responsibility to investigate, fish out the perpetrators and prosecute them, and to compensate the victims.”
SERAP therefore is asking the ECOWAS Court of Justice for the following reliefs: “a declaration that the attacks, killings, raping and maiming of citizens and other residents and destruction of property and other serious human rights violations and abuses across the country by the military, police, herdsmen and other unknown perpetrators amount to failure by the defendant to exercise due diligence to prevent the attacks and killings and cannot be justified under any circumstances, and therefore constitutes a serious breach of Nigeria’s international human rights obligations and commitments to ensure and secure the rights to life, to dignity and security of the human person, and to property, guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party
“a declaration that the failure of the defendant to exercise due diligence and to take steps to prevent attacks, killings, raping, and maiming of hundreds of Nigerians and other residents and destruction of property and other serious human rights violations and abuses by the military, police, herdsmen and other unknown perpetrators, and to conduct prompt, impartial, thorough and transparent investigations and to hold those responsible to account, is unlawful as it amounts to breaches of obligations to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the human rights guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party;
“a declaration that the failure of the Defendant to provide for an effective remedy and reparation for the victims, is unlawful as it amounts to breaches of obligations to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the human rights guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.