Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has said President Muhammadu Buhari is in a trance.
This is just as herdsmen struck again in Osun and Ondo states, sacking a council secretariat and burning a farm settlement.
Soyinka said he came to his conclusion based on “unforced errors,” adding that the President’s body language had aggravated killings by herdsmen in the country.
The playwright spoke in Lagos on Tuesday at a press conference titled, ‘Nomads and nation: Valentine card or valedictory rites.’
Soyinka, while reacting to a question on the three things he would tell the President if he met him, said, “I will say Mr. President you are in a trance.”
He noted that the sooner the President got out of the trance, the better for the nation.
Asked the form of trance the President was in, the respected playwright said, “I don’t know. So many unforced errors; take for instance, the suspended Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Usman Yusuf, that was reinstated by the President.
“What is that about? What is going on?”
Recalling that the menace of the killer herdsmen started about eight years ago, he said the current administration’s body language aggravated the situation.
He called on hunters, vigilance and voluntary groups to disarm the killer herdsmen if police refused to check their activities.
He noted that hunters in Ogun State had joined forces to protect the state from the killer herders.
Soyinka said, “I am urging voluntary organisations to ask themselves when and how armed herdsmen would be disarmed. They need to ensure that anytime they see armed herdsmen, they report to the nearest police station. But if at some point, the police have not taken action and the armed herdsmen are not disarmed, these voluntary organisations should move into the places and disarm them.
“I mention this deliberately because I don’t want anybody to get the impression that war is being declared. No, no, no. We have not reached that stage and I hope we will not get to that stage.”
He also said Nigeria was in a new form of internal colonialism with the activities of the rampaging herdsmen.
Soyinka urged the police to watch individuals who might be profiting from anarchy.
He said, “I think the police have a responsibility to look at highly placed people in whose interest anarchy can be fostered. We might end up discovering that some of these people – I don’t care whether they are politicians or civil servants – have interest in ensuring that there is chaos from Maiduguri to Lagos.
“We sometimes talk about corruption, but we don’t know how far it can destabilise the polity. When you think of the amount of money that has been stolen in this country…, then you know there are enough illegal funds to destabilise the nation completely.”
Stating that clashes between farmers and herdsmen were not expected, Soyinka decried the way the situation had been handled.
He said, “And also the lies from servants of the public; the cynicism remarks which have been uttered. Can you imagine a minister of defence (Mansur Dan-Ali) opening his mouth to utter obscenities such as, ‘What do you expect the herdsmen to do if the path of their grazing route is blocked?’
“We are talking about the phenomenon of human butchery. We are talking about the villages which have been depopulated…Why is this man still in office? What sort of government tolerates that kind of callous individual within its ranks?”
Herdsmen attack Ondo LG secretariat, chase out workers
There was pandemonium in the Akure South Local Government Area of Ondo State on Tuesday as some herdsmen chased workers of the council out of their offices.
It was gathered that the attack by the herdsmen followed a disagreement with some of the council workers over a vegetable garden at the back of the secretariat.
A source said the herdsmen, who reside a few metres away from the secretariat, took their cattle for grazing in the garden.
Some of the workers told our correspondent that fight ensued between an agriculture officer of the council, identified as Mr. Johnson Simon, and one of the herdsmen, whose cattle allegedly destroyed part of the vegetable garden.
Simeon was allegedly injured with a machete by the herdsmen, while one of the herdsmen was also injured during the fight.
It was learnt that shortly after the fight, the herdsmen mobilised their colleagues and attacked the secretariat, armed with machetes and other weapons.
It took the intervention of the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Gbenga Adeyanju, and the Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Mr. Pedro Ideba, who deployed their men in the council, to bring the situation under control.
One of the injured workers, Mr. Ojomu Olaleye, said, “The cows were eating and destroying the vegetables we planted on the field. As Mr. Simon tried to stop them, one of the herdsmen brought out a cutlass and attacked Simon. He (Simon) brought out his own cutlass and they started fighting.
“As I was taking the photographs of how the cows were eating the vegetables, I saw many of the herdsmen coming. They rushed at me with their machetes; I ran to the council premises and they chased me. I fell several times and got injured.”
Another worker, who declined identification, said, “The herdsmen entered onto our premises and started chasing everybody out; they were armed with cutlasses and really wanted to kill.”
Simon, who was allegedly injured by the herdsmen, was reportedly rushed to a hospital.
CP Adeyanju, who visited the scene, told one of our correspondents that the incident was as a result of a disagreement between some workers and the herdsmen.
He said, “The matter will be settled; it was not a serious matter and we are on the ground to ensure that normalcy returns; that is what we are doing.”
The Caretaker Chairman of the LGA, Margaret Atere, said, “What happened here today (Tuesday) has been happening in other areas. The animals ate the vegetables on the farm and that was what caused the problem. The council prevented it from becoming a full-blown crisis. We have started making peace moves.”
Herdsmen burn 120-acre farms at Osun farm settlement
Some Fulani herdsmen have stormed the Osun State Government Farm Settlement located at Esa Oke and burnt down about 120 acres of plantain, oil palm trees, mango trees and other economic trees planted there by farmers.
Some of the affected farmers told journalists on Tuesday that the herdsmen stormed the farms at night on January 29, 2018, and burnt down their farms which are located between Esa Oke and Ijebu Jesa.
They lamented that the destruction which they valued at over N100m was a huge setback for them, adding that the herdsmen wanted to force farmers out of the land.
One of the affected farmers, Sola Obembe, said, “The police arrested one of the herdsmen in connection with the destruction.
“Some of the economic trees had just started yielding fruits when the herdsmen destroyed the whole place. I will estimate the losses by all the farmers to be about N100m.”
Another affected farmer, who identified himself simply as Kolawole, said it was sad that the government left farmers unprotected from the destructive activities of the herdsmen.
The Commissioner for Special Duties in Osun State, Mr. Oguntola Toogun, who is the head of a committee set up by the Osun State Government to resolve crisis between farmers and herdsmen, said he was not aware of the destruction when contacted by one of our correspondents.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mrs. Folasade Odoro, also said the police were not aware of the incident.
However, the Chairman, House of Assembly Committee on Information, Mr. Olatunbosun Oyintiloye, who represents Obokun Constituency at the assembly confirmed the incident.
Oyintiloye said, “The development is upsetting, not only because it affects a government farm settlement but because it reflects the painful dilemma of farmers in Nigeria.”
Herdsmen have accepted ranching –Umahi
The Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, who is the leader of the sub-technical committee of the National Economic Council committee on farmers-herdsmen clashes, has said that Fulani herdsmen in Benue and Nasarawa states have agreed to obey the new anti-open grazing laws in the states.
He added that the herdsmen, however, pleaded that they should be given time.
Umahi, who addressed journalists on the outcome of the committee’s visit to both Benue and Nasarawa states, said the herdsmen pleaded to be given enough time to commence ranching or move to states with grazing reserves.
Umahi said the herdsmen also requested assistance from the Federal Government.
He said, “The cheering news is that the herdsmen in Benue and Nasarawa states are ready to abide by the law, but they will need time for ranching, as well as support from the Federal Government, or more time for them to move to grazing reserves with the support of the Federal Government.”
The leader of the sub-committee said the herders got to know that there were two million hectares of land in 19 states of northern Nigeria in which one million hectares of land was gazetted as grazing reserves.
He said, “There is a place in Gombe State where about 375 hectares have been developed as a grazing reserve. We have 74,000 hectares in Kaduna State and there is another location that has over 150,000 hectares of land that have already been developed.”
Umahi said there was the need for the Federal Government to help in the development of grazing reserves and see animal husbandry as an economic venture it could invest in by giving soft loans to herders.
He said, “The Federal Government should begin the development of grazing reserves. The Central Bank of Nigeria’s anchor borrower scheme that has succeeded in the agricultural sector should be extended to animal husbandry.’’
While stating that there were over 110,000 displaced persons in the seven designated camps in Benue State, the governor said, “Children between ages four and eight constituted 70 per cent of the population and the conditions we saw them in are not palatable.’
“We owe it a duty to give better welfare packages to these people.”
Umahi said that the committee observed that both governors of Nasarawa and Benue states were committed to peace.
“It was observed that both governors shared information, opinions and there is no crisis between them,” Umahi said.
He further stated that all parties (both herdsmen and farmers) talked about invasion by undocumented herdsmen that came from other countries and demanded that they should follow international ECOWAS rules and that all their cattle must be quarantined.
The committee members had arrived in Makurdi, Benue State capital, on Saturday on a fact – finding mission and to proffer lasting solutions to the incessant crises between farmers and herdsmen across the country.
Umahi said the sub technical committee met with all the stakeholders in Benue and Nasarawa states.
“The committee met with leaders and farmers in Benue State, as well as Benue herdsmen who had already relocated to Nasarawa and the herdsmen resident in Nasarawa, as well as the Tiv indigenes of Nasarawa State.
“All parties to the unfortunate incidents have agreed that they will pursue peace and that all those with illegal weapons must be arrested,” he added.
I’m contesting because of herdsmen killings –Kwankwaso
A former Governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, has said he decided to run for the 2019 presidential election because of the spate of killings by herdsmen across the country.
He noted that indiscriminate killings and unending economic hardship inflicted on the people had become unacceptable.
He spoke during a visit to executive members of the Kwankwaso Movement and the Hausa community in Anambra State.
He said the meeting was to enable him to seek the support of the groups ahead of the 2019 presidential election.
Addressing the community in Awka, Anambra State, Kwankwaso sought their support for his presidential ambition, stressing that the first hurdle would be to emerge victorious in the presidential primary.
He said, “Indiscriminate killings and the unending economic hardship on the people informed my resolve to contest the election. I want to use my position to restore the lost glory of the country.”
The state Publicity Secretary of the Kwankwaso Movement, Mr. Charles Onwuzulike, said, “Kwankwaso is going to be the President in 2019.’’
Ajimobi urged to stop killings by herdsmen
The Aare Gani Adams and Frederick Fasheun factions of the Oodua Peoples Congress and Agbekoya Peace Movement on Tuesday called on the Oyo State Government to find a lasting solution to the killings of farmers in the Oke-Ogun area of the state by Fulani herdsmen.
In recent weeks, the officer-in-charge of the Special Anti Robbery Squad in the Saki area of the state police command, Sheu Magu, was murdered by herdsmen in a forest, while another victim was said to have been killed in Isalu, Iseyin, by herdsmen.
The state coordinator of the Aare Gani Adams OPC, Rotimi Olumo, who spoke on behalf of the coalition in Ibadan, warned that the groups could rise in defence of their people if the herdsmen were not cautioned.
Olumo said, “No tribe, including the Yoruba, will fold its arms while the lives and property of the people are being wasted by Fulani herdsmen. If the situation is not brought under control within the next two weeks by the Oyo State Government, this group will be left with no choice but to take appropriate action.”
The Coordinator of the Fasheun faction of the OPC, Michael Okunola, said his group was shocked that a group of individuals could breach the state security without the authorities taking appropriate action.
The National Coordinator of Agbekoya Peace Movement, Olasunkanmi Raji, also called on the South-West governments and security agencies to act in order to avert a repeat of what happened in Benue State.
Group condemns herdsmen attack on Bakin Kogi
The Southern Kaduna Peoples Union on Tuesday condemned the attack by suspected herdsmen on residents of Baking Kogi in the Jema’a Local Government of Kaduna State.
The gunmen were said to have ambushed and killed four persons, while a woman sustained injuries on Sunday at Bakin Kogi village.
The four were said to be palm wine tappers.
The incident reportedly occurred when Sunday worshippers were returning home from church.
The National Public Relations Officer of the union, Mr. Yakubu Kuzamani, in a statement in Kaduna, said the union viewed the latest attack on the people of the area as heinous.
The union, which is the umbrella body of the Southern Kaduna people, wondered why the attack happened amidst heavy security presence in the area.
The statement read in part: “Just when our people were about to heave a sigh of relief that peace has at last returned to our communities, murderous herdsmen on Sunday, February 11, 2018, re-enacted their blood thirsty trait when they launched an attack on Bakin Kogi in the Jema’a Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
The union urged security operatives to review their strategies in order to be able to combat future attacks.