Ekiti Community Orders Violence Prone Herdsmen to Leave, Gives Ultimatum

The Itapaji community in Ikole Local Government Area of Ekiti State has ordered violent herdsmen on their territories to leave with immediate effect.

The community said the decision was taken to address challenges of insecurity and boost efforts of the state government to rid the agrarian state of armed men.

All businesses relating to cattle trade have also been banished in line with the quest to ensure human and environmental security in the ancient town known for agriculture and livestock production.

In a statement on Thursday, the Itapaji Progressive Union (IPU) handed down the ultimatum to Fulani herdsmen to quit the community or face the wrath of the people.

The community expressed deep concern over the environmental implication of indiscriminate bush burning, killing of rare animal and plant species and destruction of sacred groves and valuable forest resources linked to migrant herders.

They insisted as forest dependent people, there was the need to protect their indigenous knowledge and environmental sustainability.

Itapaji, located in Ajoni Local Council Development Area of Ekiti State had witnessed a string of ceaseless attacks and kidnapping which led to the death of at least one person, Dare Omotoyinbo, said to have been killed by herdsmen after a twilight invasion.

On that fateful day, Mr and Mrs Emmanuel who were holding a vigil in their church were kidnapped.

In a similar incident, the farm owned by Pastor Tunde Afe was invaded and the engineer kidnapped by herdsmen.

The town, a few kilometres away from the spot where two traditional rulers, Elesun of Esun and Onimojo of Imojo were killed earlier this year, plays host to Fulani settlers, who have co-existed with locals for decades

Itapaji Progressives Union (IPU) represents over 10,000 indigenes of the ancient community spread across home and abroad.

The Itapaji Traditional Council led by the Olu of Itapaji, His Royal Highness Oba AbdulKareem Adebanjo, and the deputy, High Chief Yisa Olaoye (Oluketu of Itapaji), the Odofin, Chief Kazeem and others attended the strategic meeting where the decision was taken.

All cattle dealers in the town were asked to close their business to augment the on-going moves by the Ekiti State government to enthrone security in the zone as well as boost agricultural yields.

All sons and daughters of the town doing cattle business in collaboration with the cattle rearers were mandated to wind up the business forthwith to ensure peace reigns in the town.

The Itapaji monarch, Oba Adebanjo, pleaded with his subjects to join hands with the officials of the IPU to ensure the town was rid of cattle trade, noting that the business had brought nothing, but anguish and tales of woe into the community.

He noted that even as he was not having a single cow in his name, some people were still in the trade, employing herders to look after their cattle.

While the town has traditional harmless Fulani settlers dating back to a century who have assimilated the culture of their hosts, the area has seen recent mass migration of violent herders from the North, Mali, Chad and Niger who are suspected to nurse a completely dangerous agenda.

It will be recalled that there was a viral video recently in which the Itapaji monarch was accused of harbouring a large number of ‘Bororo’ (nomadic Fulani) in the community.

The spokesman of the IPU, Otunba Gboyega Adeoye, said the claims in the video were “fractured work of a lazy social media influencer, who did a shoddy information job by rushing to report a one-legged rumour, with no attempt made to confirm her claims from the accused.”

Oba Adebanjo who said the news in the video clip came to him as a rude shock said though there were migrants from diverse tribe in the community, adequate security measures had been taken by the Oba-in- Council to ensure that each migrant could be identified and prevented from constituting a threat.

He said “When the issue of insecurity was becoming worrisome, what I did was to invite every migrant, which included the Hausa, Fulani, Ibira, Basha, Tiv etc, to fill an identification form which detailed their names, occupation, age, the town/villages and local government areas they migrated from.”

The Oba said the information was collated and handed over to the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), in Ikole-Ekiti, to be forwarded to the State Commissioner of Police

He, however, said the presence of a category of migrants would terminate at the end of this year’s harvest season, as the community had resolved not to harbor such practice in view of the sensitive security situation of the moment.

The IPU called on all indigenes of the community to cooperate with the joint resolutions to ensure sanity was brought back to the land.

Credit: IrohinOodua