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Kwara community protests herdsmen invasion

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By Oluseyi Dasilva, Ilorin

The people of of Igbaja in the Ifelodun local government area of Kwara state have staged a peaceful protest to the palace of their traditional ruler, Elese of Igbaja, Alhaji Ahmed Babalola Awuni Arepo III, against what they tagged the invasion of their community by herdsmen. They the action constituted a nuisance to their lives and property.

The protesters alleged that the herdsmen often perpetrated lots of atrocities, aside the invasion of their farmlands, such as stealing, rape and killing of their people, thus causing fear and apprehension in their community.

A protester, Alhaji Abdulyekeen Ajibade, who spoke with our correspondent said that there were criminal elements among the herders in their community adding that the herders had repeatedly inflicted harm on indigenes by way of invading farmlands to feed their cows on farmers’ crops.

Another protester, Ajibola Ibrahim, lamented that farmers in the community always suffered losses as a result of the herders’ activities after committing lots of borrowed funds into their agribusiness.

Alhaja Kudirat Abdulqodir, lamented how the Fulani herdsmen freely raped women in the community, describing such act as inhuman and unlawful.

The protest march was strategically organised to coincide with a regional meeting of traditional rulers in Ifelodun local government area.

The Oba, addressing the protesters, said that the agenda of the regional meeting of the local government area traditional rulers was basically on the issue of herdsmen activities in Ifelodun communities.

He who acknowledged patience of their people and urged them to be more prayerful, while assuring of early solution to the issue.

Speaking to Orient Daily, the head of the Fulani in Igbaja, Mallam Abubakar Garba, confirmed the truth in all the accusations against the herdsmen but pleaded for patience, adding that deliberate efforts were being made to address all issues raised.

Garba stated that he was not happy at the development pertaining to security breaches in the communities and called for dialogue to ensure amicable resolution.

In a related development, the government of Kwara state has allayed the fears of the public on the matter, urging them to peacefully go about their lawful businesses while measures were being put in place to prevent breakdown of law and order between host communities and herders in the state.

 “In the light of some unfortunate developments in some neighbouring states, we urge our people not to entertain any fear as proactive measures have been, and are still being, taken to maintain peace and ensure security of lives and properties of every resident. The government is working with all the security agencies, directors of personnel management (DPMs) and the leadership of Miyetti Allah to strengthen the existing peace between various economic interests,” according to a statement by the secretary to the state government, Professor Mamman Sabbah Jubril.

He said his office had “held briefings with various stakeholders across the state on the need to ensure that all hands are on deck to protect lives and properties. The leadership of Miyetti Allah has also committed to disallow night grazing or cattle grazing by underage persons. Assisted by the security agencies, the DPMs across the 16 local government areas have been directed to work with local communities and legitimate herders to keep the peace.

 “We, therefore, urge everyone to key into this peace building process and to avoid taking laws into their own hands or engage in activities that can undermine peaceful coexistence,” Jubril said.

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