A farmer in Igboho, headquarters of Orelope Local Government area of Oyo state, the home town of the embattled Yoruba activist, Chief Sunday Adeyemo popularly called Sunday Igboho was allegedly hacked to death by a Fulani herder.
Saturday Punch reports that herder allegedly stole maize from the farm and the farmer caught him but the herder brought a cutlass and attacked the farmer, in the process, he hacked the farmer to death.
One of the residents of the town, Mr Kunle Adedeji, told the Punch correspondent that many residents of the town supported Igboho’s order to criminal herders to stop attacks on the people in their host communities.
Adedeji said, “I am in support of his (Sunday Igboho) determination to chase away herders involved in crime. Everybody knows that what he is doing is not wrong, even those in government know this fact. Igboho has not killed anybody but killer herders have unleashed untold havoc on our communities. An incident happened last Sunday on a farm in this town, a herder allegedly stole maize from the farm and the farmer caught him. The herder brought a cutlass and attacked the farmer. He hacked the farmer to death. They also destroy farms and carry out several wicked things. Who would be happy with such? It is worrisome that the same government who cannot go after criminals is fighting Igboho as if he is the one causing problems in the country.”
One of the community leaders in the town who spoke to Saturday PUNCH on condition of anonymity also corroborated the farmer’s killing allegedly by a herder.
He said, “The killing happened on Sunday. The herder went to somebody’s farm and attacked him there after stealing his maize. Is that how we are going to continue to live? Some people are treated as sacred cows while others are being treated like slaves. We are kind to visitors but they are repaying us back with wickedness.’’
One of Igboho’s uncles, Amori Aladikun, also decried activities of criminal herdsmen in Igboho town despite the uproar against their activities. He said killer herders were determined to destroy farms like they were doing in other places in the southern part of the country.
He said, “The wickedness of killer herders which Sunday is speaking against is also happening in Igboho. I am a farmer and three days ago, some of the criminal herdsmen destroyed my farm. We do not have a good relationship with the herders here because of their activities. I laboured to grow the crops and they went there and destroyed the farm. Do you expect me to be happy with whoever did that to me? But we do not have any power.
“We cannot grow crops and the herdsmen will bring their cattle there to graze and destroy our crops. Unless we don’t want to speak the truth, there can’t be a good relationship between farmers and herdsmen as long as that continues. The news that a killer herdsman killed a farmer on his farm three days ago is all over the town. Everybody knows it but I don’t want to talk more about that.”
Also, coordinator of the Oodua People’s Congress in Oyo State, Mr Rotimi Olumo, confirmed the killing of the farmer on his farm in the town.
He said, “That incident happened two weeks ago. I will ask my coordinator in Oke-Ogun to give you details about it. But I was told when it happened. We have structures all over the state and that is why we know what is happening everywhere.”
During the visit, Punch Correspondent observed some herdsmen and their cows on the premises of the Muslim Grammar School, Igboho located on the Igboho-Ogbooro-Saki Road.
The Oyo State Open Rearing and Grazing Regulation Bill was passed into law in 2019. The law seeks to foster peace and promote agricultural business in the state and also to end loss of lives and constant clashes between herders and farmers.
The driver of the vehicle who took the Punch correspondent from Igboho to Saki, Tunji Idris, said despite the ban on open grazing, herdsmen continued to graze their cows in the open and caused destruction to farmlands.
He said, “I don’t think the government is serious with the ban. We are supposed to have started seeing signs that the herders will obey the law but they are everywhere doing their business as usual. I don’t even believe they are aware that there is anything like ban on open-grazing. You can see the cows on the field of that school and that is not the only place they graze. They graze their animals on farms and destroy crops despite the ban. Government needs to act fast. You cannot be destroying other people’s crops and expect that they will love you. I pray we don’t have the kind of #EndSARS protest against herdsmen atrocities in the southern part of the country. If that happens, it will be too bad because people are tired of this wickedness.”
Governor Seyi Makinde had on February 21 blamed the non-enforcement of anti-open grazing in the state on absence of state police which could be used by the state to ensure compliance with the law, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Taiwo Adisa, stated this in reaction to an inquiry by our correspondent.
He said, “Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has never hidden his position on state police. He believes that some forms of crime are better dealt with using state police. One good example of that is the implementation of the state’s anti-open grazing law assented to in October 2019.
“During his visit to Ibarapa recently the governor decried the non-enforcement of the law adding that such is an area state police would have helped. Crime is committed in localities and the existence of state police with people who know the nooks and crannies of areas will in no small way help in fighting crimes. The absence of that is what we can say is a hindrance to the wheel of justice on a larger note.”
On June 2, the governor while speaking in Ogbomoso at a town hall meeting to commemorate his two years in office said his administration would inaugurate a task force to implement the ban on open grazing in the state in the next six to eight weeks.
He emphatically stated that open grazing was illegal in the state.
The governor stated, “In Oyo State, open grazing is against the law. The implementation plan will come out within the next six to eight weeks. So, to my brother from Oriire who spoke about open grazing, the task force will not be for Oriire alone, it will cut across Oyo State. So, whoever goes against the law in this state will face the wrath of law and that is just it.”