Yoruba elders have unanimously demanded an end to the activities of Fulani herdsmen in the entire Southwest region of the country. The decision comes in the wake of the abduction and release of former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae, on his farm in Ilado, Akure, Ondo State, last month.
In a communiqué issued at the end of an emergency summit at the Parliament Building of the Oyo State secretariat complex, Agodi, Ibadan Thursday, the enraged elders emphasised that failure of the herdsmen to heed this warning could ‘lead to dire consequences.’
The meeting had in attendance such notable chieftains of Yorubaland like 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.
Describing Falae’s abduction as unacceptable, the communiqué read by Olajide, who also chairs the Planning Committee, called for the immediate 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.
“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,” the communiqué read.
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.