Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, yesterday, alerted President Muhammadu Buhari to growing feeling of frustration, disappointment and despondency among Yoruba people caused by nefarious activities of Fulani herdsmen, bandits and kidnappers, which, if not immediately addressed, could lead to other serious national catastrophes and security challenges.
The revered monarch, in an open letter to Buhari, lamented the security situation in the country, especially in the South West geo-political zone, as well as Yoruba-speaking areas of Kwara, Kogi and Edo states. He blamed the situation on incessant menace of Fulani herdsmen who have laid siege to almost all highways in Yoruba land.
The monarch alleged perpetration of all forms of assault on Yoruba people, including raping of the women, and in some occasions, in the presence of their husbands.
“That is apart from massive destruction of our agricultural lands, which ultimately points to imminent starvation. On top of it all is the menace of professional kidnappers usually in military uniforms. What is more worrisome about the kidnapping notoriety is what looks like impunity with which these kidnappers enjoy their nefarious activities.”
Alaafin said Yoruba leaders were worried by the audacity of the herdsmen, kidnappers and bandits to perpetrate their illegal acts in broad daylight on the usually busy highways without any security agency being able to do anything.
“Worse still is the confidence with which they demand ransom and collect such illegal levies at designated spots without any security personnel being able to lay siege to such spots as was the practice in the recent past.
“Now, we cannot even talk of parading suspects when in actual sense, no major arrests have been made in this part of the country. Without arrests, we cannot talk of the criminals facing the law.”
According to Alaafin, “it is in the wake of this manifest frustration of our people that they have found it unavoidable, even though reluctantly, to resort to alternative measures to safeguard life and property. In most part of Yoruba land, their pre-colonial military structures have not totally collapsed, hence, such structures like Odua Peoples Congress (OPC), Agbekoyas and other vigilance groups.”
The monarch noted: “When these nefarious activities were first noticed in Oyo/Oke Ogun area of Oyo State, I took proactive steps to stem the tide and to amicably normalise relations between farmers and herders. Our initiative succeeded because we were dealing with genuine farmers and herders who had a commitment to Nigeria and who were interested in promoting their economic activities in a peaceful, prosperous and united Nigeria.
“However, it is becoming obvious that the nature and character of banditry and kidnapping today are different from what they used to be. Today, it is not merely an infraction in the course of doing business, but blatant and criminal violation of the constitutional right to life and liberty of innocent citizens of Yoruba land.”
Oba Adeyemi said in the face of the apparent helplessness of the security agencies, President Buhari should answer the question on the lips of most Nigerians: where do we go from here? There must be urgent solution, otherwise a national catastrophe is looming.