Chukwudi Akasike, Friday Olokor, Samson Folarin and Daud Olatunji
A Fulani herdsman identified as Awwalu has been arrested by police in Ogun State for grazing his cattle on the premises of the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka’s Ijegba Estate in Abeokuta.
Three of 23 cows reportedly strayed into the estate located around Ajangboun in Kemta-Idi-Aba in Obafemi-Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State.
One of the children of the Nobel Laurel, Dr. Olaokun Soyinka, in a statement issued on Wednesday confirmed the incident.
He, however, refuted the rumour following a viral video clip on the social media that his father’s estate was attacked by Fulani herdsmen.
His reaction was to douse the tension in the town that the Octogenarian had been attacked by Fulani herdsmen.
The statement read, “I have confirmed that while cows did stray onto his land yesterday, there has been no attack, no violence and no attempt to enter the house.”null
Our correspondent gathered that the Nobel Laureate was around and was about going out when the incident happened.
He was reported to have invited the police to arrest the herdsman who allowed his herds to stray into his estate.
It was also gathered that Soyinka led the policemen to search for the herdsman who had fled shortly after his herds strayed into the compound.
An eyewitness who pleaded anonymity said the incident happened on Tuesday around 2pm.null
He said, “I was around Baba’s (Professor Soyinka’s) house, I saw 20 cows inside the premises of Baba (Professor Wole Soyinka). They were drinking from the stream inside his compound.
“I used stones to disperse them; I didn’t know Baba was already coming in his car. Baba met us there and his driver stopped the car and used the car to block them.”
Speaking with newsmen, the owner of the cows, Kazeem Sorinola, said he hired the herdsman to help him rear the cows within the area where Soyinka estate was located.
He said, “I am Kazeem Sorinola, I hired Awwalu to help me rear my cattle. What happened was that yesterday, suddenly, he called me that a cow was missing. Because of the situation, he abandoned the rest and they strayed. As he was redirecting them, they strayed into Baba Soyinka’s house.
“I later saw Baba Soyinka with policemen searching for the herder. I took the herder to the police station and we have found the missing cow. The herder was not armed. I have 23 cows, only one missed and we have found it.”null
Speaking at the scene of the incident, the state Commissioner of Police, Edward Ajogun, also confirmed the incident.
Ajogun said contrary to the claims that the Fulani herdsmen invaded Soyinka’s house, the cows were owned by a Yoruba man.
Buhari’ll be last President of Nigeria if Soyinka is hurt – SMBLF
Meanwhile, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum on Wednesday condemned the incident, describing it as “bizarre.”
While warning of the implications of hurting a man like Soyinka “with the fragile unity of the country,” the SMBLF in a statement told the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to “know that these criminals are working hard to make him the last President of one Nigeria.”
The SMBLF statement was signed by Yinka Odumakin (South-West), Chief Guy Ikoku (South-East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-South) and Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt).
The organisation said, “It is a painful development that herders will not even give a scant regard to a man of Soyinka’s stature in their madness let loose on Nigeria with no authority to caution them.
“If there are people still living in denial about the intention of these criminals and those shielding them, there is no further evidence than this
“We also want to warn them of the implications of hurting a man like Soyinka with the fragile unity of the country. Let President Buhari know that these criminals are working hard to make him the last President of One Nigeria.”
It’s herders’ impunity on display, says Afenifere
Also, the Spokesperson for Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenire, Yinka Odumakin, said the incident at the estate of the Noble Laureate was unacceptable and a full display of impunity.
“We do not accept that these cows strayed into the compound as the sympathisers of the herders and their sponsors are putting it. It is the audacity of the herders’ impunity on full display and we totally reject it.”
Herdsmen’s menace the biggest dent on Buhari’s image –IYC
In his response, the President of Ijaw Youth Council, Peter Igbife, described said the menace of Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria had dented the image of the President more than any other challenge facing the country.
“The Federal Government should take a deliberate action on the problem of herdsmen in this country. Some of the funds stolen from this country can be used to organise proper place for them to do business. This issue of herdsmen menace has dented the image of the President more than any other thing since inception,” Igbife stressed.
Also, a human rights activist and President of the Women Arise and Centre for Change, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, in a statement, said, “We can now safely say that Nigeria is at the edge of the precipice.
“Soyinka had warned the country last weekend of how close Nigeria was to a civil war if President Muhammadu Buhari did not act fast.
“Instead of the President acting, his media aides said he would become talkative if he continued to speak on Miyetti Allah. Nigeria is dying before our very eyes and its death pang is what this incident symbolised.”
All Fulani should relocate home, says CNG
Also, the Coalition of Northern Groups advised all Fulani communities whose lives and livestock assets were threatened in other parts of the country without hope for protection from the Federal Government or their host communities to take steps for immediate relocation to the North.
The organisation said that thereafter, it shall consider a review of the northern position in the context of a Nigeria in which the legal guarantees of persons were deployed against particular citizens in favour of certain ethnic gangs who apparently believe that others have no rights in Nigeria.
The CNG issued the directive on Wednesday in a statement by its Spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleima, following reports of alleged sinister plots targeted at Fulani pastoralists living as minorities from some southern states.
The statement was titled, ‘Reaction to reports of threats and ejection of herdsmen from southern states: Overview.’
“Northerners everywhere must raise their level of vigilance to avoid playing into the hands of people who desire to achieve dubious political goals by pitting citizens against each other.”