PRECISELY about two weeks ago, the local and the social media were awash with the kidnap story of Chief Olu Falae by suspected armed Fulani herdsmen in his farm. The former Secretary to the Federal Government and ex- Finance Minister had to buy his way into freedom by paying some millions of naira as ransom before he was freed from the den of his captors. Expectedly the kidnap saga generated some heated arguments and bad blood among the chieftains of the Afenifere and the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF). Other kidnapping incidents have taken place after and before that of Chief Olu Falae that were masterminded by other hoodlums other than the Fulani herdsmen.
Surprisingly, and as if trying to prove a point, another news broke out that Chief Olu Falae’s farm was destroyed when some Fulani herdsmen allowed their cattle to graze freely on the elder statesman’s farm earlier in the week . Nobody knows the kind of message that the assailants were trying to pass. But it is safe to say that the unprovoked attacks from Fulani herdsmen in the South-Western Nigeria had dated back to decades especially in the Oyo North Senatorial District popularly known as Oke Ogun area.
The issue that has suddenly become news or made spectacular because of the status of Chief Olu Falae is what the people of Oke Ogun area in Oyo State have being enduring for decades where the Fulani herdsmen used to have a field day in not just destroying the farm lands of their hosts but also proceeded to rape, maim and even kill their victims in extreme cases. And as if their atrocities are not enough, they have also constituted themselves into highway robbers, robbing the motorists in the area at gun-points. Earlier this year, an elderly sibling of this writer ran into one of such deadly armed robbery operations when he was returning with his wife and other well-wishers from the naming ceremony of his grandchild in Abeokuta.
Although they were not manhandled, but they were ordered to lie down and were robbed of their money, phones, handset and other valuables. Few months after the robbery attack, my eldest brother who was in his early eighties died. Possibly, his death might have links to the shocks received from the horrible incident. Only God knows. May the soul of Pa Joseph Adebimpe Ayinla Olakunle, a retired Senior Inspector of Police rest in perfect peace. Amen.
The Fulani herdsmen through their aforementioned atrocities have actually become thorns in the flesh of their South- Western hosts. As a matter of fact, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, and President Mohammed Buhari had waded into the crises during the tenure of Late Chief Lam Adesina, the then Governor of Oyo State, almost two decades ago. Now that this group of people had added kidnapping into their kits of criminal acts, urgent steps need to be taken by all the stakeholders before they turn into nucleus of terrorist groups in the South–West.
It is needless to say that the Yoruba people living in the South-Western part of the country are peace- loving and very accommodating. But at the same time, the people should not be taken for granted because of these virtues or good attributes. The people do not want a situation where these recalcitrant Fulani herdsmen will destabilize the peace in the heart of Yoruba land which may compel the Federal Government to establish Military Special Task Force (MSTF) to take over the security apparatus of any area of South-West.
And before it is too late, these hoodlums/criminals among these Fulani herdsmen terrorizing the South- West should be fished out and be put where they rightly belong lest they continue to tarnish the good image of Fulani herdsmen who may have genuine business to do.
The Yorubas should not be tempted into waging reprisal attacks against their assailants in order to safeguard their lives, properties and territories. The Federal Government already has enough of inherited security challenges to cope with, which are yet to be resolved. These criminal elements within the Fulani herdsmen fold should be put in check before their activities become another inglorious national phenomena.
Presently, the victims with their respective family members in the affected parts of the country definitely know where the satanic shoe is pinching them. Instead of trading blames or playing ethnic politics with such a crucial security matter that is still brewing, the earlier an urgent solution is found the better. It should not be allowed to snowball into another security storm where some unscrupulous politicians can profit from, as the case may be with the Boko-Haram issue now.
Frankly speaking, while the Yorubas duly recognize the Fulani herdsmen as their fellow countrymen and brothers, however, the criminal elements among them, the Fulani herdsmen who have constituted themselves into social menace, should be flushed out after due process without further delay. A stitch in time saves nine.
However, we want to believe that there is no possibility of any hidden agenda behind unrestrained and unprovoked attacks from these marauders. In case there is any, He (the Lord) who disappointed the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise, will surely intervene and discomfit such evil plans.
Olakunle writes from Lagos