By Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation and Yinka Adeniran, Ibadan
Security agencies in Kwara State are mounting surveillance on the embattled Sarkin Fulani of Igangan, Oyo State, Alhaji Salihu Abdulkadir, following his recent relocation to Ilorin, the state capital.
Also being watched closely by the security agencies are members of Abdulkadir’s family and supporters who moved to Ilorin with him in the aftermath of the January 22 mob attack on his houses and cars in Igangan.
There are now fears of possible reprisals by the Fulani in Igangan itself, forcing the community to impose a dusk to dawn curfew.
Security has been tightened generally across Kwara State, The Nation gathered on Saturday.
Security agencies have been placed on red alert while the heads of Fulani (Jooro) in all settlements in the state have been directed to document and report every case of migration to their areas.
They are expected to keep a register of old and new Fulani migrants in each settlement.
Abdulkadir, sources said, has promised to abide by the rules and regulations of his hosts in Kwara State. The state had been gripped by fears after the Sarkin Fulani addressed a press conference, during which he admitted that he had relocated to Ilorin,
His alleged role as an intermediary for kidnappers, which led to the burning of his house and cars in Igangan, sparked the fears.
Investigation revealed that the Kwara State Government and the security agencies resolved to avert any breach of the state security by the Fulani who are relocating from Oyo State.
A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The police and security agencies have mounted surveillance on Sarkin, his relations, followers and other Fulani migrating from Oyo State to Kwara State.
“They have also debriefed Sarkin and his group on the need for peaceful co-existence with the people of the state, especially grazing by herds.
“Security agencies have extracted a commitment from Sarkin that they will integrate well with Kwarans for as long as they stay in the state.
“Other stakeholders, including traditional rulers, have been involved by the state government to engage him and other Fulani herdsmen to live in peace in the state.
“So far, there is no security threat. All is well.
“The state is fortunate to have a new Commissioner of Police and State Director of DSS who are highly-experienced in managing this type of situation.
“And for the migrating Fulani, it is homecoming because of their fellow Fulani in the state. There will be no hiding place for any criminal element in the state.”
A top government official said: “This is a Northern territory; we cannot ask Sarkin and other Fulani not to relocate from Oyo State to Kwara State.
“In the spirit of one North, our duty is to guide them to live in peace with the people of the state and shun criminal activities.
“There are many Fulani communities and settlements in this state. Blending or integration will not be a problem for Serikin Fulani and others.
“The state government is also not taking things for granted. Sharing boundaries with Oyo State, we anticipated a possible spillover of the security challenges in the state to Kwara State.
“In some cases, the distance between some parts of Oyo State and Kwara State is less than a kilometre.
“And to have access to some parts of Kwara State, you need to pass through some major towns in Oyo State.
“So, the security agencies are on the alert for 24 hours to avert any crisis.”
Another government official said the state has always been proactive.
He said: “We have a system in place where each Fulani head (Jooro) in any settlement must register all the people living there. Each time there is a new Fulani migrant, Jooro will register and inform the appropriate traditional and government authorities.
“The way our structure works is that if a Fulani or a Fulani herdsman commits an offence, he is easily traceable and can be apprehended. “Recently, a Fulani herdsman attacked and removed a boy’s two eyes. I think he was a Fulani Bororo.
“His settlement got to know but he had fled to another Fulani enclave in a neighbouring Francophone country. We got in touch with Jooro (the head), who liaised with other Fulani leaders and the boy was brought back from the Francophone country to face trial.
“This is the kind of structure we have put in place to ensure harmony between our people and the Fulani.
“We will guarantee the security of lives and property in the state. Since Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq came on board, he has accorded security a top priority.”
During his Thursday press conference, Abdulkadir had denied the allegations against him.
He said the allegations were concocted by Oyo State activist Sunday Igboho to get the Fulani out of Igangan and other parts of the Southwest.
“I and my family have been living in Igangan for over 50 years without any challenge from anybody either in Igangan or any other place,” he said.
He asked Emirs and other traditional rulers in the 19 northern states to come to the rescue of the Fulani residents in the Southwest.
Abdulkadir’s houses and cars were set ablaze in Igangan penultimate Friday soon after Sunday Igboho visited the town over the seven day quit notice he gave the Fulani in the area over alleged kidnapping and other vices.
Igangan imposes curfew for fear of reprisal
The dust raised by the mob attack on Abdulkadir’s household at Igangan is yet to settle a week after.
Residents are now living in fear of possible reprisals by the Fulani over the attack.
The community has consequently imposed a dusk to dawn curfew.
The decision was reached during consultations between the traditional ruler and other stakeholders.
The community said it has nothing against any law abiding person or group of persons living in the town, but will not allow criminality in any guise.
The residents asked government to set up a committee to look into all the allegations of atrocities leveled against the Sarkin Fulani.
The Convener, Igangan Development Advocates, Mr Oladokun Oladiran, said the people were yet to see the 200 members of the Southwest Security Network –Amotekun –which Governor Seyi Makinde promised to deploy to the area to enhance security.
He urged the governor to personally visit the affected communities to see for himself the true state of things, especially in relations to the havoc wreaked by criminal elements
He said: “Igangan is fine. The town imposed a curfew of 9pm to 5am just to secure lives and property.
“It was the joint decision of the monarch, his chiefs, council of elders and all the bodies and associations in Igangan. It was a consensus and everyone and anything from 9pm, there would be patrol. This is to prevent reprisal attacks.
He said Nigerians from all walks of life, except criminals, are free to live in Igangan.
He said: “As we speak, if you go to a particular place we call Ile Bamogba in Igangan, you will find Fulani there. They are living peacefully, going about their daily chores, unthreatened.
“If you go to AUD in Igangan right now, you will find Fulani there living peacefully in their houses, coexisting peacefully with our people and they are unthreatened. They are going about their daily activities and daily chores despite all these things.
“Their businesses are going on as usual because there are no threats to their lives.
”So, Fulani people are still living in Igangan. Some Fulani have stayed with us for years that they even have Yoruba names. Some of them even have Yoruba appellations. So, what are we saying?
“What Igangan and the entire Ibarapa rose up against is a crime lord. Somebody who gave the criminally minded Fulani and Bororo the support they needed to carry out dastardly acts which had led to our people living under an oppressive fear.
“People can’t go to their farms. It’s serious, it’s not an exaggeration. People can’t practically go to their farms.
“I can’t go to my farm alone. Whenever I am home and I am going to my farm, I will call other youths, so we will gather together and go to the farm.
“Ad when you are on the farm, you don’t stay alone but together in groups, so that as you are doing whatever you are doing, others are watching out.
“Because what they do is to strike fear into the heart of the people. The people leave their farms out of fear. They say they can’t continue on their farms and over the years you will discover that when you get back to that farm, a Fulani person is already on it, cultivating it.
“Sometimes they will leave it for grazing, at other times, they will cultivate it, and that was going on for years.
“The Governor should come down to Igangan, visit two or three people. He is the governor of the people; let the people feel his heart for God’s sake.”
Asked on the deployment of Amotekun personnel promised by the governor, Oladiran said: “We want to believe the governor. We don’t have any iota of doubt about the him.
“The fact remains that the governor, as far as we are concerned, is acting based on the fact that he wants to be very fair to everybody. But in doing that, in his applying legal fairness to everybody, he is trampling upon us and shutting us up and introducing a knife to our heart unknowingly.
“What he would have done is to try to say that he believes us as his people and that he should hear us out while also extending the same hand to those residing with us from other parts of the country and assure us of a lasting solution.
“And while doing that, he is investigating and trying to find out the truth.
“We believe the governor will put into effect those things that he mentioned as strategies. We submitted those demands a long time ago. Many of those things that the governor is now acting upon were the demands and suggestions we made a long time ago.
Two matcheted in fresh herders attack
Reports from Ibarapa area of Oyo State on Saturday said some yet to be identified herders attacked two residents of Oke-Oofe in Ibarapa North Local Government Area.
The assailants struck at about 1am on Saturday, matcheting Adekola Adeyemi (65) and Jamiu Saedu (30).
The victims were rushed to a private clinic for treatment.
The incident was reported to the police.
Source: The Nation