'Killer herdsmen must leave Southwest now or face hostility' – Afenifere issues strong statement
Pan-Yoruba Socio-political organisation, Afenifere has ordered killer Fulani herdsmen to leave Southwest now or face serious confrontation. The organisation stated that about 30,000 people were killed due to activities of killer herdsmen between 2015 and 2019. At a news conference on Wednesday in Ikeja, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, one of the leaders of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo said the decision was taken following the killing of the daughter of Afenifere’s leader, Reuben Fasoranti, Olufunke Olakunrin by suspected herdsmen. Adebanjo warned the National Assembly “not to amend the Land Use Act with the intent to change the predominance of land allocation in states to the federal government to allow RUGA’s implementation. We demand their immediate exit from Yoruba land. If they refused to leave in reasonable time, we will not stop our people from confronting them". “Yoruba land has now become the epicenter of the terror of these Fulani marauders and our people are fed up with the shedding of innocent blood that is quite anathema to our respect for human life which would see us remembering those who died peacefully 50 years down the line.” He expressed disappointment with the refusal of the federal government to allow elected governors have state police, while on the other hand permitting the setting up Fulani bandit -vigilantes on Yoruba soil in addition to the Fulani militias terrorising the same land. “We are miffed that those who will not allow our elected governors have police are now setting up Fulani bandit -vigilantes on our soil in addition to the Fulani militias terrorizing our land,” he said. He, therefore, lamented that about 30,000 people “have been killed by the Fulani herdsmen/militia across the country between 2015 and 2019. Apart from not bringing them to book, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has taken so many steps which betray the encouragement being given to these troublers of Nigeria. We cannot continue to live under these conditions. The blood of our people will no longer be used to water the tree of a dysfunctional unitary order,” he added. Adebanjo called for an immediate timeline for a return to a federalist Nigeria that would allow for autonomy for each state to run its internal affairs, saying that the activities of Fulani herdsmen/bandits/kidnappers and other miscreants would have been effectively dealt with if the governors as Chief Security officers of their states had control of the security agencies. He said with the current proposed security budget for 2019 is N1.76 trillion, a devolved entity would have enabled better utilization of part of that expenditure; particularly in the over N300b for policing which was further subsidised by the state governments’ additional allocations and over N600b intended for internal affairs. According to Adebanjo, the past few years had been troubling for the country as “we have witnessed mass killings of people in the country, most of which have been linked to Fulani herdsmen/militia and the Nigerian state has not been able to dispel the allegations by unraveling the brains behind the killings and applying the law against them. “We demand an immediate timeline for a return to a federalist Nigeria so that we can have autonomy to run our internal affairs and failure to do so will constrain our capacity to continue to restrain our people from embracing self-determination. “We task the government to find the real killers of Olakunrin and not the innocent people that the communities around where she was killed have alleged are being randomly arrested and put an end to the genocide in our zone and across the country.” Adebanjo said the federal government had been careless and insensitive in the handling the menace of Fulani herdsmen in the country. “First, it was outright denial it was engaged in by saying those carrying AK-47 riffles about and killing people were foreign Fulani. The President specifically said they were Gaddafi’s men let loose from Libya and yet they were not arresting them. “Next they moved to accuse people of spreading hate speech against the local Fulani. It got to a ridiculous stage that when Miyetti Allah is accused of any crime, it is either the Ministry of Information or Presidential spokespersons becoming the mouthpiece of the group. It is now clear we Yoruba have had enough-as the Ooni of Ife, Alaafin of Oyo and Prof Wole Soyinka and other Yoruba patriots have warned,” he said. Adebanjo addressed the conference alongside other Afenifere leaders, including Prof Banji Akintoye, Prof. Akin Osuntokun, Dr. Femi Okunrounmu, Chief Supo Shonibare, Alhaji Sola Lawal and Mr. Yinka Odumakin.