Fresh crisis appears to be brewing in the Ibarapaland area of Oyo State, following the return of Fulani herdsmen to the area and the alleged destruction of farms in the area.
Fulani herdsmen had, in January, migrated out of Igangan and other communities in Ibarapa, Oyo State, following the eviction notice given to Seriki Fulani of Igangan, Salihu Abdukadir, by Yoruba activist, Sunday Adeyemo, aka Igboho.
Farmers in Igangan, however, told Saturday PUNCH on Friday that the herdsmen had not only started returning to the area but that they had allegedly resumed destruction of farms and threatened to attack farmers who resisted them.
The Chairman of Real Farmers Association of Nigeria, Igangan branch, Mr. Abiodun Adegoke, in an interview with our correspondent, said some of the cases were reported to the police in Ayete and Igangan.
Adegoke accused some herdsmen of grazing their cattle on a cassava farm at Olukosi village on February 14, destroying a large part of the farm. He added that the herders invaded the farm around 7.30pm but that the farmers rallied other residents that pursued the herdsmen, who escaped with their animals.
The farmers’ chairman said the anti-open grazing law in the state meant nothing to the herdsmen, adding that they stilled grazed at night in spite of the law against it.
According to him, one of the cows was caught and taken to the police station at Ayete, the headquarters of Ibarapa North Local Government Area.
He said, “Two weeks ago, another incident happened at Asunnara village. Some herdsmen grazed their animals on the farm of Semiu Ariwoola. They invaded the farm and started uprooting cassava there to feed their animals. Our people mobilised and ran after the herders and their animals.
“They escaped but six rams among the livestock were caught and were taken to the Igangan Police Station. These people have shown that they cannot change. One would have expected that they would desist from farm destruction, plundering and attacking farmers, but they have returned to their wicked ways.
“We were attending a meeting organised by the Justice, Development and Peace Commission on Wednesday and I received a call that some herdsmen were grazing on someone’s farm. The farmer challenged them and they started beating him. Two of them beat him mercilessly with their rods.”
Adegoke said it took the intervention of some other farmers who arrived to stop the herdsmen.
“As they were talking, one of the herdsmen, Yahaya, brought out a cutlass and threatened to attack one of our people, but when he saw that they were many, he stopped,” the farmers’ chairman added.
When contacted, the Convener of Igangan Development Advocates, Oladiran Oladokun, told Saturday PUNCH that the herdsmen had started returning and destroying farms.
The Police Public Relations Officer in Oyo State, Mr Olugbenga Fadeyi, also told our correspondent on the telephone that the police would have started investigation into the cases since the complainants said they had reported the cases.
He said, “The police would have begun investigation since they said the incidents were reported. We will continue to do what will promote unity and peace in every area.”