Protest as suspected cattle breeders kill farmer near Falae’s farm
By Mohammed Aminu in Sokoto and James Sowole in Akure
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III yesterday called on the federal government to investigate the sources of weapons used by suspected killer herdsmen, saying the perpetrators of such heinous crimes should be treated as criminals and prosecuted.
The monarch made the call in his Sallah message to the Muslim Ummah in his palace in Sokoto.
He stressed the need for the federal government to investigate the sources of these weapons and deal decisively with such persons.
According to him, those carrying arms and masquerading as herdsmen should be treated as criminals.
He insisted that the real herdsmen do not carry guns but only move around with their cows and sticks for grazing.
“The federal government should rise up to the occasion and probe the sources of these weapons and take appropriate action, while the perpetrators of such dastardly acts must face the wrath of the law.
“We are indeed aware that the real herdsmen do not carry guns, but they only move with their cows and sticks.
“Although there are bad eggs among the Fulanis, but those carrying arms and perpetrating heinous killings are not herdsmen and should be treated as criminals,” the monarch said.
The Sultan described measures taken by the federal government to combat the insurgency in the North-east as commendable and cautioned against complacency, saying: “The problem is not yet over.”
He charged Nigerians to complement the efforts of the security agencies to make Nigeria more secure, stressing that the issue of security was a collective responsibility and not that of the security operatives alone.
The monarch, to this end, urged the Muslim Ummah to continue to uphold the virtues learnt during the Ramadan fast, which include patience, perseverance and brotherliness.
He also reminded Nigerians of the need to sustain fervent prayers for President Muhammadu Buhari and for the sustenance of peace and unity of Nigeria.
The Sultan also commended the federal and Sokoto state governments in their efforts to restore the lost glories of the education and agricultural sectors.
Despite the Sultan’s admonishment to the federal government on the activities of armed herdsmen, suspected cattle breeders searching for their cows that were dispersed after an exchange of gunfire between them and policemen drafted to the farm of the former Secretary to the Government of Federation (SGF), Chief Olu Falae, have been blamed for the death of a farmer in a neighbourhood farm.
The farmer, Linus Ogheh, a native of Ebonyi State until he was killed last week resided at Ileyo camp, an agrarian community near Igbatoro in Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo State
Ogbeh, according to findings, had gone to his farm to collect cocoyam that he wanted to plant but was allegedly killed on his farm by suspected herdsmen.
The incident, according to residents of various camps around Igbatoro and who are mostly non-indigenes, had scared them from going back to their farms for several days.
The killing of the father of seven also provoked a protest by the non-indigenous farmers, their wives, children and other stakeholders in the community, who gathered at Ileyo camp to condemn the damage being caused by the grazing of animals on their farmlands.
Armed with green leaves and placards, with inscriptions condemning grazing on their farms and the attendant damage to their crops, the protesters trooped to the lonely road chanting anti-herdsmen slogans.
Speaking with journalists, the Bale of Ileyo Igbatoro camp, Chief Ogunleye Taiwo, said 95 per cent of people living in the area were mostly non-indigenes comprising Igbo, Agatu, Ebira and Langtang farmers.
“This man that was killed had been living here for over 30 years. Chief Falae’s farm is close to us here. Our people cannot go to farm again because of the fear that the herdsmen would attack them.
“This is the time we should be spraying our cocoa farms with chemicals, but we cannot go to farm. This area is the food basket of Akure, the state capital, but cattle enter our farms without restraint. We are tired of the menace of the herdsmen.
“The youths in the area had wanted to go and confront the herdsmen but we are the ones that have been restraining them because we know what that can cause,” he said.
Also speaking, the President, Coalition of Non-Indigenes’ Association and Chairman Agatu Farmers Association, Mr. Vincent Adonyi from Benue State, said the menace of herdsmen could impede Nigeria’s quest for food security if not checked.
“This is June, we do not have much maize. The cassava is not there and other food crops that we used to grow are not there because people were scared from their farms.
“Herdsmen drove some of us away from Benue and Plateau States and now that we are here, the herdsmen have come again, this is disturbing and should be of concern to the government,” he said.
Adonyi called on the government to empower the security agencies to deal with the situation, in order not to worsen the food crisis already being experienced in the country.
Adonyi said it was the police that came to remove the corpse of the slayed man and subsequently deposited it at the mortuary.
He said an investigation should be carried out on the alleged killing and the perpetrators brought to book.
Commenting on the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) for the Ondo State Command, Mr. Femi Joseph confirmed the death of the farmer.
However, Joseph said it would be too hasty to jump to conclusion on what led to his death or who was responsible.