• Community leaders raise alarm
By Moshood Adebayo, Abeokuta
A septuagenarian yesterday revealed how a newly wedded lady in Asa Village, in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State, (name withheld) was allegedly raped by armed nomadic Fulani herdsmen who were currently terrorizing more than 30 communities in the Council Area. Pa Mathew Olukogun who spoke with journalists during a press conference at Ojo-Odan, lamented what he described as “unabated gruesome killing of Ketu people by the Fulani/Boboro herdsmen in recent times”.
Aside from rape, assault and molestation of the rural dwellers, Olukogun said fears of being attacked by the herdsmen had gripped the villagers who were appealing to the state government to come to their aid. According to the aged man who spoke on behalf of hundreds of farmers in the area, the immoral acts by the normal Fulani had instilled fears into the communities. His words: “Aside from this immoral act by the intruders, many of our sons and daughters have been gruesomely murdered in a way that appears as if we don’t have government.
Our brilliant ones including our wives have been raped, assaulted and even killed by the strangers.” He said many of their wives and ladies that had been raped were either on their way to the market or river to fetch water. “How would you feel if I mention your wife’s name as one of those that have been raped by the cattlerearers’’,, the old man replied in an answer to a question on the need for him to mention names. Olukogun said those who had been raped by the marauders knew themselves. “Many of our wives , ladies and daughter who have been raped were largely taken to the hospital in Abeokuta, the state capital.
“We are losing people as well as being prevented from doing what we know how to do best because of the grazing of our farms by the herdsmen’s cattle’’. ‘’With the terrible experience of the raping of our daughters and ones, including newly wedded wives, living in our communities is no longer safe, hence, we have deserted the communities in hundreds, praying that the state government would urgently come to our aid.’’ According to him, the herdsmen usually lurk around the communities and unleash terror on them in such a way that they are usually helpless.
‘’The worst of the action of the marauders was the raping of many newly wedded wives in our communities and we are bitter about this.” He adds: “In a matter of days, they enter the country through our communities and destroy our farmlands with the indiscriminate grazing of their cattle. We are helpless and that’s why we are appealing to the state government to urgently checkmate them.’’ Reacting to the incident, the State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Muyiwa Adejobi said that the Ketu people were only crying wolf where none existed. While warning the Ketu people not to drag the police into the matter, he stressed that ‘’the police could only ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order rather than stopping the Fulani herdsmen from coming into the area.’’ “They should not drag the police into the matter.
The state government and the House of Assembly have set up a committee on the matter. We are only waiting for the government, he said. On his own part, the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Taiwo Adeoluwa said that the problem of the clash between the Ketu people and the Fulani had been a recurrent one in the past 15 years. Adeoluwa said that the state government’s desire to find a lasting solution to the re-occurring problem made it to set up a committee comprising the Ketu people, the Fulani and government officials to tackle the problem.
“These are unfair allegations. Last week, I held meetings with them. The 30 villages in Ketu and the Fulanis too were represented. We’ve told the Fulani herdsmen to hold on, that we have set minimum standards for them before they can come in,” , he stated. Meanwhile, a coalition of socio-cultural groups from the area, including Ketu Advancement Front, Ketu South People’s Assembly and Ketu Alliance have alleged that about 21 innocent residents of the area have allegedly been killed by the Fulani herdsmen since 2000.
The spokesperson of the socio-cultural groups, Mr. Lasisi Adewole, said three residents of the area, including Phillip Akanan from Owode-Ketu, Amosu Olofinjin and Akinola Tunde from Agbon-Ojodu have been killed this year alone by the Fulani herdsmen. Adewole also lamented that all efforts to ensure that the police, the State Security Service and the state government put in place adequate security measures to protect the people, particularly during dry season when the Fulani herdsmen usually encroached and destroyed their farms by the indiscriminate grazing of their cattle had yielded no fruits.