Enough! Yoruba elders warn Fulani herdsmen to leave southwest

Yoruba elders yesterday called for an end to the activities of Fulani herdsmen in the Southwest, following the abduction of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae, on his farm in Ilado, Akure, Ondo State.

They made their position known in a communiqué at the end of an emergency summit at the Parliament Building of the Oyo State secretariat complex, Agodi, Ibadan yesterday.
At the meeting were the President of the Yoruba Council of Elders ( YCE), Gen Adeyinka Adebayo, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Idowu Sofola, Dr Frederick Fasehun, Bishop Ayo Ladigbolu, Prof Banji Akintoye, Prof Adetowun Ogunseye and Dr Kunle Olajide. They described Falae’s abduction as unacceptable.

The enraged elders emphasised that failure of the herdsmen to heed their warning could lead to dire consequences.
 In the communiqué read by Olajide, who chairs the Planning Committee, the group also called for the arrest and trial of Falae’s abductors.

Reiterating that the incessant invasion of farmlands by the herdsmen and subsequent killing of farmers were part of the flawed federal system, the Yoruba leaders restated the call for true federalism and restructuring of the nation to enable each region develop at its own pace.

The communiqué reads: “Yoruba leaders of thought both at home and in diaspora had an emergency summit in response to the clear and present danger to the continued existence of our people.
“After an extensive and inclusive debate on the threat to our survival, especially after the unprovoked, unwarranted, mindless and serial attacks on the economic rights of our people by the Fulani cattle rearers which has led to loss of precious lives, rape and criminal abduction of our people.

 “Despite the non aggressive disposition of the Yoruba, we have been victims of violent violations from our hostile neighbours from pre colonial days to modern times.
 “From the 18th century, the Fulani jihadists’ onslaught against the Yoruba through the travails of Chief Obafemi Awolowo through the June 12 saga with the latest wars declared on our people, we have always risen above board as we strive to make our neighbours see the need to deal justly and fairly not because we are cowards but because God created us to fight only as a last resort.

“Despite the untold injustices meted on us over the years, we remain the only one of the numerous tribes that has ever questioned the corporate existence of Nigeria.
“Falae’s abduction was sequel to the running battles he has had with these Fulani herdsmen, who had invaded his farmland and destroyed his produce.

 “The return of the herdsmen is a declaration of war on the Yoruba, Falae’s abduction is a continuation of attacks which these herdsmen have unleashed on our people over the years.
“We cannot afford to leave our people at the mercy of violence of these herdsmen who came to destroy their economic rights and kill them.

“We demand immediate end to lawless cattle razing in Yorubaland and ask all those who want to engage in cattle business to do animal husbandry, to establish ranches, our people are no longer prepared to allow further encroachment on their farmlands.”
Governor Abiola Ajimobi decried the ex-Finance minister’s abduction and appealed to the people not to take laws into their hands.

He, however, warned that our “simplicity as a nation should not be taken for granted”.
He said: “We are all Nigerians, regardless of tribe and differences. The fight is not between the North and the South but legality against illegality.
Ajimobi urged the Yoruba to remain law-abiding in the midst of provocation.
The governor said the time has come to address the issue and ensure peaceful coexistence between the various ethnic groups.

Ondo State Governor Olusegun Mimiko restated the call for true federalism.
Mimiko, who was represented by the Commissioner for Environment, Sola Ebiseni, said a situation where a governor cannot appoint a commissioner of police was unacceptable.
He warned that unless a solution was found to the incessant incursion on farmlands by the Fulani herdsmen, peace might continue to elude the land.

Gen Adebayo said the Yoruba  must close ranks to fight this cause.
The YCE chief said: “Our actions have continually pulled us back as a race, we need to close ranks and fight for our common good.”
Taking his turn, Sir Olaniwun lamented that since Falae’s kidnap and subsequent release, no northerner has openly associated with him.

“The question is, if it were the other way around, would the nation still be one?”
Sir Olaniwun urged the governors to come together and shed the toga of politics and affiliation to deliberate on the way forward.
Also at the summit were Gen Raji Rasaki, factional leader of the Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) Gani Adams and former Police Affairs Minister, Jelili Adesiyan.

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