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Fellow Nigerians, please, take note of the title of my column this week. I did not say Nigerians are dying. That is stale news, as well as an understatement. My focus is that the country called Nigeria is dying. I do not know what sort of security briefing President Muhammadu Buhari, regularly or periodically, receives from his obviously reticent and incompetent security team. I doubt it includes the fact that Nigeria is speeding towards a monumental collapse, unless a miracle, or something drastic is done to stop this supersonic drift towards perdition. It might even be that the President does not receive any or proper security details, either because he does not want to hear or worse still, he assumes all is well. Whichever way one contemplates these last two scenarios, it is a calamity indeed.

Believe me, I’m not writing as a wailing wailer, or as a Prophet of doom. I am not writing as a clairvoyant or a seer. I merely write as a realist. The symptoms of a failed nation are just too palpable to be missed or ignored by a reasonable people. I am not talking about a State which has failed because of social and economic policies that even the authors and protagonists cannot decipher or fathom. This nation is on the precipice because its leaders are playing Russian Roulette with the security of Africa’s biggest and most important country. It is all now a matter of guesswork, that the gun is loaded, but the way we are going it is looking like every chamber is now full and not just one. Whatever shot you fire is bound to be the killer shot. Our leaders clearly know this but are in such an inebriated state that they have become oblivious, impervious and immune to all the danger signals.

 

I know power makes people blind. It intoxicates, addles the mind and takes full possession of the powerful, especially if they want to play God. This is why I’m shocked that some Nigerians are already daydreaming about becoming President in 2023, when they have no guarantee that Nigeria will still be alive by then. Or maybe I should not be surprised because what better can one expect from this bungling class of crass elements. The usual leading contenders, as typical of this confounding breed of persons, are pretending that all is well, although they know much better having been the contributors to, and cause, of the problem. They must not be seen to be criticizing the rudderless, directionless and visionless government of President Buhari lest they are marked down as enemies of the President. They know that elections are never held here, stricto sensu. What we have is a selection process with the hapless people being trundled out to deceive the unsuspecting international observers who can’t believe that what they are seeing is possible even in a Banana Republic. Simply put, elections are largely controlled from the very top, where the omnipotent President holds sway, and the outcome of the selection process is dictated by his whims and caprices.

If nobody has yet told the President, then he must hear this somehow. Our security situation is more than dire and grim. It is now catastrophic. Nigerians are now being killed, kidnapped and raped in places that used to know only peace. The orgy of banditry has since moved from the core North and middle belt to Yorubaland, previously considered a safe haven. The tales are unbelievably horrid and terrible. The situation in Ondo State is so critical that the Governor Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) has now cried out that the “Fulani bandits” must move out of his State within seven days. I salute him for having the courage to say it as it is, being a member of the same party as our most reluctant President who seems unabashedly unaware of the bloody forays and operations perpetrated by some of his kinsmen in far-flung territories and domains outside their traditional space. The Governor obviously cried out in utter exasperation, frustration and, perhaps, fear. I knew him as a die-hard Buharist. But only a bastard would sit arms akimbo and watch his mother or daughter being raped by some monsters and say or do nothing! That is the situation in which Arakunrin Akeredolu has more or less found himself. As with the President, he has discovered, albeit tragically, that family comes first. Nobody will watch over yours, when theirs is also threatened by the same fate. As the Yorubas will say, “a ki so ori olori, ki awodi gbe t’eni lo”!

Osun State has virtually become a major theatre of war involving series of killings and kidnappings. I don’t know if the Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, has been as vociferous as Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), but I am sure he is slowly being driven to come to the same conclusion. Akeredolu has nothing against the Fulani. There are many great and peaceful Fulani living in different parts of Nigeria. Some generations of Fulani people have fully integrated in those communities outside their sphere of influence without anyone raising eyebrows. But these bloodthirsty wanderers and vagrants, who are said to have meandered their ways from outside Nigeria, must be flushed out and ruthlessly dealt with regardless of whether the current President of Nigeria is their godfather, avuncular mentor, swami or whatever he represents to them.

The situation in Oyo State is just as scary. I have read the account from no less a personage than the highly respected and revered Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, another die-hard Buharist who now appears ready to part ways with Buhari if necessary. I have had the opportunity of sitting with Iku Baba Yeye, as we fondly call him, and I know how disappointed this esteemed traditional ruler is that the Federal Government has refused to act speedily and decisively on the matter of the gross insecurity ravaging and destroying the country. I was not surprised to receive his lengthy letter to the President days ago which I hope Buhari found time to read, or someone found the opportunity to read to him. I won’t bother to talk about very reserved and highly respectable and regarded Northern Leaders led by the spiritual monarch, The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, a cosmopolitan and cerebral leader I have come to love and adulate so much for his simplicity and forthrightness. Virtually every part of the nation is haemorrhaging to death while the Federal Government is watching helplessly and hopelessly!

The Alaafin has done well by properly documenting some of the dastardly acts of these merciless bandits and his public missive to our President, Muhammadu Buhari excerpts of which are worth repeating on these pages because the letter is one for posterity whatever fate befalls the entity presently known as Nigeria and whichever way the country goes in the end:
“In recent times however, I am worried about the security situation in the country, especially in the South West geo-political zone, nay the entire Yoruba-speaking area of the country including KWARA, Kogi, and Edo States.
“This has to do with the incessant and increasing menace of Fulani herdsmen that have laid siege in almost all the highways of Yorubaland. Whether in Owo, AKURE, Ilesanmi/Ife-Ibadan Road or Ibarapa zone and Ijebu area of Ogun State, the story is the same.

“I have held series of consultations with opinion moulders and eminent Yoruba leaders across board about the menace of these cattle herdsmen with such assault like raping of our women and on some occasions in the presence of their husbands. That is apart from massive destruction of our agricultural lands; which ultimately points to imminent starvation…
“After due consultations with Yoruba leaders… we are worried by the audacity of these lawless people in effecting their illegal acts in broad daylight on our usually bushy highways without any arm of security being able to do anything…
“Now, we cannot even talk of parading suspects, when in actual sense, no major arrests have been made in this part of the country. Without arrests we cannot talk of their facing of the law.
“Unfortunately, and painfully indeed, in the face of the apparent helplessness of our security agencies, where do we go from here?”

It is at the wake of this manifest frustration of our people that our people have found it unavoidable, even though reluctantly to resort to alternative measures to safeguard their lives and property… Today, it is not merely infraction in the course of doing business, but blatant and criminal violation of the constitutional right to life and liberty of innocent citizens of Yoruba land. A few publicly known instances will suffice.
Certain individuals were kidnapped along Erio-Aromoko Road, Ekiti State. They were tortured and exposed to danger in the forest for upward of two weeks.

These victims included the Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ikole Branch, Adeola Adebayo, whose decomposing body was eventually found after a ransom price of four million Naira had been paid.

Two officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps, both Yoruba, were picked up along Ilesa-Akure highway. In the process of this kidnap, an unnamed individual died.

Musibau Adetumbi, a legal practitioner based in Ibadan, was going to attend an Appeal Court session in Akure when he was kidnapped along Ilesa-Akure highway. Professor Adegbehingbe, a surgeon at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife was abducted along Ibadan-Ile-Ife highway. Dr. Muslim Omoleke, the Administrative Secretary of the National Electoral Commission was kidnapped around Ilesa, Osun State.

Mr Ayo Oladele, an employee of Guinness Nigeria, and an Old Student of Christ School, Ado-Ekiti, was abducted and taken away and lately, Dayo Adewole, son of a member of your 2015-2019 executive council and Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole was kidnapped on his farm at Iroko, a village along Ibadan-Oyo Road…

As ugly as the picture above seems to be, the people of Yoruba land have remained generally peaceful and have resisted concerted efforts to push them into civil disobedience or adopting self-help mechanisms to protect themselves…

I am therefore writing to you, as a concerned stakeholder in your administration, to alert you and demonstrate to you, the urgency of the need to quickly respond to these and other issues concerning Yoruba land….

There is a general impression among opposition group that you are not known to take decisive and proactive steps in many matters of national interest and that you are not usually too disturbed about the gale of insecurity in Yoruba land…

As no major arrest of Fulani pseudo herdsmen has been made till date in Yoruba land, suspects cannot be paraded, let alone arraigned…

I am aware that members of the Odua People’s Congress scattered all over the world are already being mobilized to stand in the defence of their land and are ready, willing and able to raise an army of volunteers as was done in 1968 by the Agbekoya…”

These are pearly words of wisdom and advice from a monarch who is practically deified in Yoruba land. The President has been stridently admonished and strongly advised in forceful, resounding and vibrating language which is reverberating all over the polity. Effectively, Alaafin Adeyemi is saying that enough is enough and that things will get pretty unpleasant and nasty, pretty soon, unless the President wakes up from his deep, almost comatose, slumber and does the needful by a wholesale revamp and reshaping of our security architecture and thereby protect his fellow Nigerian citizens. The President swore to uphold our Constitution, it is about time that he started upholding that oath by acting like a patriotic Nigerian and safeguarding all his people and preserving their property.

On a similar note, I have been watching the videos of a militant Yoruba man, named Sunday Igboho, from Oyo State and what I see is raw determination to unleash mayhem, if need be, to protect his kinsmen from the brigands and mosstroopers trampling on them and their rights. The views Igboho expresses are symptomatic and reflective of the views of most of Yoruba land. He is the latest Yoruba hero for his fearlessness.

I hope and pray that President Buhari would appreciate this authentic security briefing from The Alaafin, one of Africa’s most important custodians of tradition and culture and resist the temptation of sending his trigger-happy military against the people of Oyo State. They are obviously ready for a full-scale showdown and battle in order to redeem their manhood against the rampaging kidnappers, rapists, raiders and corsairs. I foresee a civil war and bloodbath if action is not taken soon.

May this cup pass over us…

If there was one thing the 2020 U.S. elections brought into sharp focus, it was the combustive mix of politicians, prophets and profit.

As Candida Moss so eloquently reminds us, "If the past has taught us anything, it is that failed prophecies and frustrated predictions don’t always mark the beginning of the end for radical social movements."

The fact is, a number of fake prophets will always find ways to reinterprete their failed prophesies and reinvent themselves, in order to stay in business.

Some, chastened by the shocking non-fulfilment of their projections, have apologised, as they rightly should.

Many gullible followers with itching ears have been stunned into silence. Others are asking deep soul-searching questions. Of themselves and of those whose words they so easily believed.

Hopefully, moving forward, we will learn that -

1. God is neither a Republican nor a Democrat.

2. That God is Sovereign and He rules over the affairs of men and women.

3. Prophets and clerics always end up rolling in the mud when they tie their fortunes in with politicians.

Moving forward, prophets and clerics will do well to dwell on the Kingdom of God, rather than on the kingdoms of men.

- Victor Oladokun

In a video interview, Adeboye admitted that when he was told he would become the General Overseer by the late founder of RCCG, Reverend (Pa) Josiah Akindayomi, he said ‘God forbid.’

He explained: “I prefer the quiet life and I still prefer the quiet life. The quiet life as far as I am concerned is the sweetest and I knew then that becoming the general overseer will expose me a lot. If you like a quiet life, you don’t want to head an international organisation and my father in the Lord told me clearly that I would travel all over the world. I told him I was willing to serve as a pastor under a General Overseer and I will do my best but apparently what is written is written. So here we are.”

According to him, the first years as a young GO were full of challenges from senior pastors who were there before he became born again and probably saw me as an upstart.

“The church was started in 1953, I joined the church in 1973. Many of these pastors were my teachers, workers in training and baptismal classes. So just coming from nowhere and being catapulted above them all, one could understand that it was not too pleasant. Initially, the cooperation was not too robust,” he explained.

“The initial mistake I made as GO maybe was that I trusted too much. It took me some time to learn that only God could be trusted and that led to some mistakes. I would ask somebody to go do something, go to sleep believing the thing was done. Only to wake up and discover that the person had not moved. The only friend you can trust 100 per cent is God.”

Born in Osun State to very humble parents, Adeboye completed his first degree at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics in 1967. The same year, he married Foluke Adenike and they are blessed with four children – Adeolu, Bolu, Dare and Leke.

  • Baby in endless cry as mom’s breast fails to produce milk

  • I’m guilty of rape, says vice principal who impregnated her

Ordinarily, a woman who has just been delivered of a baby requires the protection of her husband. She is also expected to breast feed her new born child. That, however, is not the case with Hadiza Ibrahim, a junior secondary school pupil forced into early motherhood by her supposed academic and moral guardian. She has neither the man that would provide her warmth nor the breast milk her new born baby would suck.

The hapless 12-year-old became pregnant after she was allegedly raped by Ibrahim Tukur, the …….year-old vice-principal of Kadandani Community School in Rimi Local Government Area, Katsina State, where Hadiza was a pupil.

When our correspondent visited Hadiza on her hospital bed on Thursday at the Post Natal Ward of Federal Medical Centre, Katsina where she was delivered of a baby through caesarean section, she was seen sitting beside her baby on her hospital bed, eating noodles. Visitors and other patients at the ward were shocked at the sight of a young mother who probably needed as much motherly care as her four-day-old baby.

Asked why the baby was crying, Hadiza’s mother, Rabi Ibrahim, who is also nursing a three-month-old baby, said the baby was hungry but Hadiza could not breastfeed her because her breasts were yet to fully develop. She also said they had no money to food supplements for the baby.

She said: “My name is Rabi Ibrahim. I am the mother to Hadiza and she is my first born.

“Hadiza was impregnated in the school by her class teacher. We did not know until she was about to give birth four days ago and we brought her here in the hospital. I thought she would abort the pregnancy, not knowing that she was going to give birth.

“This evil teacher of Hadiza is fond of doing that to people’s children in the school; it is just that Allah wants him to pay for his evil deed through my daughter, Hadiza.

“He would deceive her with N50, saying that he is her father because her father’s name is also Ibrahim, which mean he has access to interact with his daughter even though he is the teacher. That pave way for him to always abuse her sexually without us knowing what was happening.

“Hadiza could not tell us what was going on with her in the school because this evil teacher threatened to punish her if she told anyone about it. She kept it secret even from us her parents.

“Nobody understood what was going on with Hadiza. She did not show any sign of pregnancy. The evil teacher has three wives.

“There is no milk in my daughter’s breasts but we do improvise milk for the baby to sustain her with the help of doctors and nurses in the hospital.”

Hadiza’s mother denied receiving any help from Tukur, who is now in police custody. She solicited for help from public spirited individuals and corporate citizens.

Hadiza herself could not speak fluently because she had sore throat at the time our correspondent visited, though she managed to utter some words.

She said: “He (Tukur) used to give me “kudi-ya” (Hausa phrase for the money a father gives to his daughter as gift). He gave me N50, N100 or N200 at different times. Then he would call me into his office and sleep with me.”

What remained puzzling, however, is how a girl’s pregnancy would mature and she would be delivered of the baby without the breasts developed enough to feed her child.

Dr Bola Kale, a consultant/gynecologist with the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Katsina, in a telephone conversation with our correspondent, described the scenario as unusual.

He said: “It is not about age. Even for those who are well mature, for one reason or the other, there might be delay in production of breast milk. Some will start early for the first feeding but some may be delayed.

“Sometimes we may just recommend breast pump for some people to stimulate, because it is about the physiological effect. It differs from one person to another.

“It is not about her age; it is just because nature may have delayed in producing breast milk.

“What will happen is that they will continue to pump her breasts. In fact, if they have money, they can buy a breast pump so that the child will not continue to be on breast milk supplements.”

He noted that there are exceptional cases of even 11 years old girls developing breasts before their teenage years and some between16 and 20 years not having their breasts fully developed.

He, however, expressed concern that in Hadiza’s case they may have to spend a lot of money on milk supplements, especially when the baby gets up to a month old when they might be buying milk supplements every three days

I’m guilty as charged, says Tukur

Tukur, the alleged rapist and vice-principal of Kadandani Community School, told journalists in Hausa language at the police headquarters in Katsina that he committed the act as alleged.

He said: “I am being accused of committing rape and it is true I committed the crime. I have been having affairs with the girl for eight months now. I used to take her to my house and offer her the sum of N300 of N500. Some other times, I would give her N200 to sleep with her.

“Information reaching me right now is that the girl has been delivered of a baby boy for me. I have three wives.”

Parading the suspect, the spokesperson of the Katsina State Command of the Nigeria Police Force, Gambo Isah, a Superintendent of Police, said the victim’s father, Ibrahim Sale had complained that Tukur, on several occasions, lured his 12-year-old daughter into his house, had carnal knowledge of her and in the process impregnated her.

The PPRO further expressed the concern of the command on the upsurge in rape cases across Katsina State, adding that it has become imperative to alert members of the public, especially parents, to always look after their wards.

He said: “The command, under the leadership of CP Sanusi Buba, is collaborating with relevant stakeholders such as the government, traditional institutions, religious leaders, women organisations, the media, civil society organisations, trade unions, etc., on the necessity of public sensitization in order to rid the state of this menace.”

The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, on Friday, said the Federal Government’s planned sale of public assets will benefit Nigerians and help to boost the economy.

In an appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, Mrs Ahmed, who is also the Minister of Budget and National Planning, said some government assets are currently moribund and provide little or no value to Nigerians in their current state.

“There are some government assets that are dead that can be sold to the private sector to be reactivated and put to use for the benefit of Nigerians,” the Minister said.

“So we are looking at different – and I am a member of the National Council on Privatisation – we are looking at different categories of government assets that government has not been able to manage, that are lying down and in some cases even completely rundown, to cede them off to the private sector.

On January 12, Mrs Ahmed had revealed the government’s plan to sell public assets to partly finance the N13.58 trillion 2021 budget.

On Friday, Mrs Ahmed stressed that the “intention is not just funding the budget, it is to reactivate these assets and hand it over and have them bring contributions to the growth in the economy.”

She added that the Bureau of Public Enterprises will begin to coordinate with other arms of government on the asset sales in the first quarter of the year.

” . . . in the last week of December, we had a meeting of the National Council on Privatisation where we approved the annual work plan, the 2021 work plan, for that Bureau of Public Enterprises,” she said.

“And I guess it is in this first quarter that the BPE will now be engaging the Senate committee and other committees they work with to say this is our work plan for the year.”

In a statement on Sunday, civil society group SERAP had asked the National Assembly to stop the federal government from selling public assets to fund the 2021 budget.

The group said the government should, instead, look to identify areas in the budget to cut, such as salaries and allowances for public officials.

 ‘Nothing new’

On Monday, Osun State Lawmaker had defended the federal government’s plan to sell public assets to fund the budgets.

“The issue of the sale of assets is not new,” he said during an appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today.

“Even in the previous budgets, there have always been other sources of revenue and the sales of assets is one of such.”

But he stressed that the government must be transparent throughout the process.

“ . . . the critical issue we need to look at, is ‘What assets are we selling?’ Some assets are already liabilities, so what are we keeping them for? That is my humble opinion,” the lawmaker added. “You have to tell us which assets we are looking at.”

A deficit budget

President Muhammadu Buhari signed the 2021 budget into law in late December after it had been passed by the National Assembly.

About one-third of the budget is devoted to capital expenditure but critics maintain the government hasn’t done enough to curb unnecessary spending, especially around cuts in salaries and allowances for public officials.

With oil revenues still affected by the pandemic, the government has said it will borrow N5.6 trillion from domestic and foreign lenders to fund the budget.

The sale of moribund assets is expected to provide additional funding.

The National Arts Theatre and the Tafawa Balewa Square are some assets that could be put up for sale by the government.

- Monarchs, brutalised victims cry for help

 

Not a few residents of Ketu-speaking villages in Yewa North Local Government Area, Ogun State were brutalised by soldiers who escorted herdsmen to graze in the communities, prompting residents and monarchs to cry out to the military and state government for help,TheNation reports.

Seye Mulero panted like a rat that had just escaped the claws of a ravenous cat. He could hardly acknowledge the sympathy offered by the kinsmen that surrounded him, urging him to take heart and seek medical treatment in hospital as he pulled up his shirt to show his badly hurt body at Ubeku village in Yewa North Local Government Area, Ogun State.

“Sorry,” said some of the women repeatedly in Yoruba as Mulero pulled up his shirt to show the wounds from the flogging on his muscular body, urging him to go to the hospital for treatment.

Mulero, one of the young men in the rustic village, had drawn the ire of some soldiers by speaking truth to them. The soldiers, numbering 10, had escorted some herdsmen on a mission to intimidate the villagers after they resisted an attempt by the herders to graze their cattle in the community after alleged repeated attacks and killing of farmers who dared protest the destruction of their farms.

The herdsmen, who had departed the village after their continued presence was rejected by the villagers, had suddenly resurfaced at about 2 pm on December 19, 2020 with a handful of soldiers from the 35 Artillery Brigade, Alamala, Abeokuta.

The soldiers headed straight to the palace of the traditional ruler of the community, Chief Olaleye Adigun, calling out the villagers and warning them against preventing the evicted herdsmen from returning to the village. It was in the middle of this strange encounter that Mulero told the soldiers that the herders would not be allowed to remain in the community because of their brutal killing of residents and the destruction of their farmlands in recent times.

Mulero said: “Everyone was frightened by the action and utterances of the soldiers but I summoned courage to tell them how a Geography teacher Mr. Yomi Akinola and two students of Community High School, Ibeku, among others, were killed by the herdsmen while our women were raped and killed on their ways to the farm.”

Mulero’s blunt comments enraged the herdsmen who immediately asked the soldiers to deal with him. The military men allegedly responded by promptly seizing, kicking and flogging the young man mercilessly, leaving him serious injuries.

Recalling the ugly experience, Mulero said: “Before I knew it, the herdsmen had motioned to the soldiers who immediately pulled me out of the audience and flogged me mercilessly with a wire whip. It was as if I stole something valuable.

“As I speak, my body still aches because of the wounds, even after I had been treated in a hospital.

“Numerous other villagers were subjected to the brutal act as the soldiers escorted the herdsmen from one village to another all in a bid to intimidate us into allowing them to graze on our farms.”

Like Ubeku, like Asa, others

But Mulero and Ubeku village were not the only person and area that tasted the bile of the soldiers who escorted the herdsmen in a military patrol van from one village to another. Innocent indigenes of Iselu, Ibeku, Agbon-Ojodu, Asa and other villages were also harassed and assaulted by the soldiers at the instance of the herdsmen.

After leaving Ubeku, the herders and the complicit soldiers moved to neighbouring Asa, where they reenacted the Ubeku scenario, causing the hapless villagers to panic.

At Asa, the herders sighted Mulero’s brother, Gabriel Mulero, accusing him of being among the crowd that jeered them after his brother was beaten up. There and then, the soldiers seized the young man, giving him some deafening slaps and kicking him mercilessly before whisking him away to a neighbouring village, Agbon-Ojodu, where they dropped him off after elders of the community pleaded for his release.

At Agbon-Ojodu the hapless villagers would not utter a word, having heard how the soldiers harassed and assaulted the Muleros. But despite their foreboding silence, some of the residents received severe beatings from the soldiers for keeping mum.

Gabriel (Mulero) said: “I was returning from a party at Asa with one of our friends named Mathew Adaramaja when my elder brother told me on the phone that some soldiers had led herdsmen to our village and brutalised him.

“To avoid trouble, we stayed away from the scene and sat near some commercial motorcycle operators. Suddenly, one of the herdsmen named Ali led the soldiers to the spot where we were seated and accused us of being one of the people that were opposed to them.

“The soldiers descended on us with fan belts and flogged us severely. They tied our legs and pushed us into their patrol, van threatening to shoot us if we tried to jump down and run away. They said they were taking us to their barracks at Alamala. They accused us of preventing the herdsmen from grazing on our farms and vowed to teach us a lesson.

“However, when they got to Agbon-Ojodu village, elders of the community pleaded with them to free us. We were badly brutalised and we had to visit Ibeku Health Centre for treatment.”

 

Sorrow, tears, blood from attacks by soldiers

About 29 villages in the area had been attacked in recent times by terror herdsmen who were said to have camped at Eggua, a neighbouring town, from where they moved with their hordes of cattle, ravaging farmlands within the Ketu-Yewa communities, which share borders with the Republic of Benin.

The villages include Ateru, Moro, Ologun, Agbon, Igbota, Ogunba-Aiyetoro, Oke-Odo, Ibore, Gbokoto, Iselu, Ijale, Ohunbe, Igbeme, Owode-Ketu, Igan-Alade, Lashilo, Oja Odan, Ateru, Moro, Ologun, Iyana Meta, Igbooro, Egbeda and Kuse.

The armed herdsmen, who usually lead their flock in search of pasture because of the rich vegetation in the Ketu-speaking villages, have also been fingered in the destruction of cash crops belonging to natives, attacks, killing and raping of women who are mostly natives of the communities.

On January 10, 2020, herdsmen reportedly hacked 70-year-old, Pa Sola Ilo to death, and chopped off his son, Abidemi’s hand in broad daylight at Agbon village. Worried by the incident, villagers from the 29 communities staged a rally in protest and declared the herders persona non grata.

One person was reportedly killed on Tuesday May 5, 2020 when suspected herdsmen abducted a policewoman and injured two others in separate attacks in Ayetoro area of Yewa North Local Government.

The herdsmen who had laid siege to the road were said to have shot dead the driver of a commercial bus commuting from Abeokuta to Ayetoro, while the unidentified female police officer attached to the Police Area Command in Ayetoro was abducted and the car she drove was abandoned at the roadside.

The herders also allegedly stabbed one Segun Ileyemi at Olorunda village several times while trying to rob him of his belongings, and he had to be rushed to Ayetoro General Hospital for treatment.

The lawmaker representing Yewa North and Imeko-Afon Federal Constituency, Hon. Olaifa Jimoh, had condemned the spate of attacks, urging security agencies to save the villagers’ lives.

Jimoh said: “It is no longer news that the dastardly act of the Fulani herdsmen in my constituency is legendary as records are available at various offices of security agencies. But for how long will this continue?

“The herdsmen mostly lay siege to the roads as they wait for my constituents, to either rob them of their belongings or kidnap them outright.”

With the assistance of the local vigilance group and operatives of the state police command, suspected herdsmen involved in the killing of one Olabisi Afolabi and attacks on some women at Moro and Eegelu villages in December were apprehended.

One AK47 rifle, pieces of 0.8mm live ammunition, 26 live catridges and two machetes were recovered from the suspects-Mohammed Bello (40), Muhammed Momoh (30) and Yisau Umoru (18).

Although, the suspects were paraded at the state police command in Eleweran, Abeokuta by the then Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Illyasu, their prosecution never saw the light of day.

 

Residents, monarchs protest, write military authorities

Palpable fear has since taken over the area with residents deserting many of the communities for fear of falling victim to the marauding herders, who are being backed by military escorts.

Panicky villagers told The Nation of their plans to leave their communities for fear of reprisals by herdsmen who have been emboldened by the support from soldiers to forcibly storm their villages and further destroy their crops and attack them.

Oluwafemi Adeyemo, an indigene of Asa, said the incident was an insult to the villagers who ordinarily deserve adequate protection from the military.

Adeyemo said: The intention of the herdsmen is to exterminate us and take over our villages, but we resisted them because they have killed many people around here and ravaged our farms for too long.

“It is thus an insult for soldiers to lead them to our villages in an attempt to coerce us into allowing them to live in our midst and further perpetrate their evil.”

Rafiu Alade, a native of Ibeku said the action of the soldiers was a violation of the rights of the indigenes.

He urged the state government and military authorities to call the soldiers to order to prevent the indigenes from resorting to self-help in order to protect themselves from herdsmen.

“How can soldiers back herdsmen to invade our community? Yet, the soldiers flogged and beat up those singled out by herdsmen as opposing their stay in the communities. That amounts to a violation of people’s fundamental human rights and a nod for perennial lawlessness displayed by the herdsmen in our villages.

“It is high time the state government and military authorities called these soldiers and herdsmen to order. Otherwise, the villagers could resort to self-help to protect themselves against the hoodlums.”

Worried by the development, monarchs of the affected communities petitioned the Nigeria Army over alleged connivance of its men with herdsmen to assault and harass villagers.

The monarchs are the Oniggua of Iggualand, Oba Micheal Adeleye Dosumu; the Eselu of Iseluland, Oba Akintunde Ebenezer Akinyemi; and the Alademeso of Igan Alade, Oba Gabriel Olukunle Olalowo.

The petition titled ‘matter of urgency’ dated January 7, 2021 signed by their lawyer, Mr. Olaoluwa Folalu, was addressed to the Brigade Commander of 35 Artillery Brigade, Alamala, Abeokuta.

The petition reads in part: “Specifically around 2.00 p.m. of the same day, the Fulani herders and suspected soldiers entered Ibeku in a Nigerian Army pick-up vehicle and a private car wherein they proceeded to the house of the Baale (the traditional Head of the Ibeku community).

“The Baale was asked to gather his subjects and people from nearby villages, which he did. The suspected soldiers told the people that the purpose of their visit was to inform them that the Fulani herders would be coming into their communities to graze cows.

“Thus, the soldiers would ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order. After their address, they asked if anyone had question or comment to make in reaction to the information.

“Expectedly, One Mr. Seye Mulero responded by calling the attention of the soldiers to the inherent challenges of allowing the herders in their communities based on the sad previous experiences in the community.

“The said Seye Mulero further cited past killings, maiming and destruction of farms to buttress his point. Sadly, at this point, the soldiers seized him and mercilessly beat him up.

“In the same manner, the Fulani herders in company of the suspected soldiers left Ibeku for Asa, the adjoining village to address the Baale of Asa and his subjects as they had earlier done at Ibeku. Shockingly to the soldiers, after their address, the people refused to respond, having heard what transpired at Ibeku. “However, one of the Fulani herders sighted some people in the audience and picked on them as those that purportedly shouted on them at Ibeku while brutalising their victim (Seye Mulero). The herders asked the soldiers to also deal with them.

“On hearing this, the people took to their heels. However, one Gabriel Mulero, was not so lucky enough as the soldiers grabbed him and ruthlessly assaulted him.

“He was whisked away in their pick-up vehicle to Agbon-Ojodu, another adjoining village, where they compelled the Baale to assemble his subjects for a forceful briefing. It was at Agbon Ojodu that the said Gabriel Mulero was dropped off from the Army pick-up following pleadings by some community leaders.

“Kindly be informed sir that the alleged issue of procuring soldiers by herders to escort them to forcefully graze on the people’s farm, the attendant molestation of the innocent people by the alleged soldiers and the destruction of farms are known to the Police.

“On 3rd January 2021, the State Commissioner of Police (CP), Ogun Command brokered a meeting over the matter at the Police Divisional Headquarters, Eggua.

“During the meeting, some of the herders confirmed that they brought the soldiers that escorted them while grazing their herds on the people’s lands; a development that the CP himself strongly condemned.”

It will be recalled that the immediate past administration of Governor Ibikunle Amosun had initiated a committee in a bid to resolve incessant herders-farmers clashes.

“The committee had comprised community and traditional leaders as well as the leadership of herdsmen in the state, but the modalities recommended by the committee, which included the registration and monitoring of herdsmen by community and traditional authorities, were never implemented throughout the tenure of Governor Amosun.

When The Nation contacted the Public Relations Officer of 35 Artillery Brigade, Major Osoba, he said that he would contact his ‘boss’ to revert to our correspondent on the matter.

“I will tell my boss about your enquiry and he would contact you and give you explanation,” he said.

He, however, had not done so at press time.

Also, the spokesman of Ogun State Police Command, Mr. Abimbola Oyeyemi, said he was in a meeting when our correspondent called him on his mobile phone. He too had not reverted as promised at press time.

Speaking with our correspondent Oba Akinyemi urged the state government to intervene and resolve the matter once and for all.

He said the soldiers had usurped the role of the police in the matter.

“Soldiers have no business escorting herders to graze on our farms; what they did is tantamount to usurping the police, who are statutorily mandated to maintain law and order.

“The state government should wade into this matter and ensure that justice is served as indigenes will not give up their farms and cash crops to be destroyed by herders.”

Oba Akinyemi noted that the herders were trying use the confrontation they had in Benin Republic to launch mindless attacks on his people, using soldiers.

He said: “The armed herdsmen were recently repelled in Oguba-Ayetoro, a Yoruba-speaking community in Benin Republic which shares boundary with my kingdom. They went into the village to graze, not knowing they were already in another country and the gendarmes (police) repelled them.

“Grazing is outlawed in the francophone country and authorities of Benin Republic had communicated this policy to their Nigerian counterparts, hence, the police there confronted the herders.

“Now, they are passing off the village for a Nigerian territory and using it to foment trouble everywhere.

“The state government should also empower and involve the local council areas in initiatives aimed at bringing peace and maintaining law and order in our communities to avoid clashes, as indigenes are tired of being terrorised by herders.”

Yoruba activist, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, has challenged Oyo Governor Seyi Makinde to arrest him if he can over the eviction order he issued to herdsmen last week.

Ighoho had issued a seven-day ultimatum to Fulanis in Igangan in Ibarapa East local government to quit over alleged kidnapping and banditry.

But Makinde countered the order in a state broadcast, declaring nobody has the right to evict anybody from any parts of Oyo State.

Igboho however defied the order on Friday when he stormed Igangan with his supporters who vowed to flush herdsmen from every part of Yorubaland.

The hugely widely activist has struck a right chord in many Yoruba-born, who consider the presence of herdsmen a security threat.

The Governor and Igboho have been on a collision war after the latter dumped Makinde who he supported in the 2019 elections.

In a viral undated video, which emerged on Friday, Igboho blasted Makinde in Yoruba language.

Though he didn’t mention the Governor’s name, he said enough for viewers to know he was referring to Makinde.

He accused the Governor of backing herdsmen, recalling how Makinde relied on him to win votes in 2019.

According to him: “You can bring all Fulanis to Yorubaland, if you like, you unfortunate ones. It will not be well with you.

“You are threatening me in my fatherland with Fulanis. You will not prosper.

“Is it the Fulani’s that make the laws of the land? Have you forgotten when you were ‘bankrolling’ me when you wanted to become Governor and all I did for you all during the elections, and now you dare threaten me?

“Well, I don’t believe that you are serious with your threats yet, until you bring all the soldiers and policemen to arrest me in my house, before I know you are serious. You are all fools.”

The Oyo State Governor ‘Seyi Makinde on Friday said his government will not allow anyone to cause ethnic tension or harass anyone carrying out legitimate businesses in the state.

The Governor made this comment while receiving the new police boss in Oyo state, Mrs. Ngozi Onadeko who paid a courtesy visit to him in his office.

Tensions escalated on Friday in the Ibarapa axis of the state where an indigene Sunday Igboho had given Fulanis in the area an ultimatum to leave the state over alleged criminality by herdsmen.

Videos shared on social media showed Igboho holding a well-attended rally where he swore to drive out Fulani herdsmen from the entire Yorubaland for causing insecurity and banditry.

However, Makinde said his government and security agencies need not wage war against any particular ethnic group but against criminal elements, irrespective of their tribes, religions, or creed.

The governor added that his administration would not allow anyone to threaten the peace of the state by acting unlawfully and saying things that are alien to the Nigerian Constitution, noting that acts that are capable of causing chaos in the state will not be accepted.

He promised that his administration would continue to synergise with all security agencies in the state to fight criminals, hoodlums and bandits irrespective of their tribes, religions, or creed, while urging the police to arrest miscreants causing tension and threatening the peace of the state.

“For people stoking ethnic tension, they are criminals and once you get them, they should be arrested and treated like common criminals,” Makinde said.

“For this administration, the major pillar for us is security, because we know that all the good economic plans we have won’t be possible in an atmosphere of chaos and insecurity.

“So, when people say things that are neither lawful nor within the spirit of Nigeria’s Constitution, it is not acceptable here. And they cannot hide under the guise of protecting Yoruba’s interest to perpetuate chaos in the state.

“I am sure that since you came in, you must have heard about some things happening at Ibarapa axis of the state. I will still say it here that we are not after Hausa-Fulani. We are after criminals.

“We are after hoodlums and bandits irrespective of their tribe, religion, or creed. Those are the people we are after. If you look into the records, when we had the armed robbery incident at Okeho in Kajola Local Government Area of the state, some people were killed, some were arrested and we found out that they were from Ebira, from Kogi State. So, we want to go after the criminals – whether they are Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani or whomever they are.”

Amotekun’s Role

The governor said his administration would continue to synergise with all security agencies in the state to fight criminal elements, adding that his government will continue to place a priority on the welfare of the officers and men of the Police Force in the state.

Governor Makinde, who stated that his government would ensure that all security agencies work together to ensure a secure and peaceful Oyo State, also pointed out that the Oyo State Security Network Agency, codenamed Operation Amotekun, like federal security agencies, is working towards the same objective of securing the state.

“Amotekun here in Oyo State is working with us towards the same objective. We need intelligence to know about criminals before they even strike. It is one of the major reasons why we set up Amotekun; to be able to gather intelligence in all the wards in Oyo State.

“But the same people that demonised Amotekun are the ones now telling us that a certain ethnic nationality should leave this place.

“For us, we will ensure that all the security agencies work together. I will encourage interaction with all other agencies and once we have that synergy, we will ensure that the objective of the people going about their businesses with no fear of being molested will be attained.

“You are welcome home because we believe Oyo State should be home to you and should make you and the team as comfortable as possible. We don’t want this to be a hardship posting for you. So, your welfare and that of your officers and men are of paramount interest to us and of very high importance.

“You and your team are all coming in at a very challenging time. This is a period where false information is almost at its highest, ethnic tension almost at its highest as well. So, I will say you have your job cut out for you. We won’t make the job difficult. We will be sincere and open; we will support you.”

A New Sheriff

The governor commended the new Commissioner of Police for swinging into action immediately she resumed office, pledging that the government would give maximum cooperation and support to the security agency.

Earlier, the new Commissioner of Police, Mrs. Onadeko, said that the visit was to formally inform the governor that she has resumed fully.

She vowed that the Oyo State Police Command will secure the lives and property of the people and ensure that the people go to bed with their two eyes closed.

She said: “We are here to formally tell you that we have resumed duty. As you can see, some of us are here. So, we came with the promise that we want to make the lives and property of the people of Oyo State safe and secure. We want the people to go to bed with their eyes closed.”

She equally noted that the police officers have started the visibility policing in all the nooks and crannies of the state and have returned to their duty posts and are poised to reduce crimes to the barest minimum level in the state.

“Since we came in, we have started with our visibility policing. When I came in, I noticed that there were no policemen on the roads, maybe it was still the aftermath of the #EndSARS issue, but we have been able to talk to them. We have asked them to occupy their space because it is their constitutional duty. We have to reduce crime to its barest minimum in Oyo State,” she added.

She promised that the Police will be professional in the discharge of the duties and also work with the Makinde administration’s vision for the security of the state, even as she appreciated the governor for the provision of the SRS vehicles and the repairs the government has made on the vehicles.

Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State has attributed the failures recorded in governance since the coming of democracy in 1999 to incompetent leaders who took over the leadership of the country from the military.

The governor spoke just as former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, blamed the nation’s educational system for the failure being recorded in leadership in the country, saying the system was not designed to produce leaders.

Both men spoke at a youth summit organised by a member of the House of Representatives and Chairman Board of Trustees of Lead Generation Initiative (LGI), Shina Peller in Abuja.

The Niger governor said that when the military decided to hand over power to civilians, a lot of competent people never believed in the process and therefore stood back, and watched while the system was manipulated by incompetent people.

He said: “For them (those who took power from the military), occupying political offices was business and they accumulated a lot of wealth.”

The governor asked educated youths in the country not to be ashamed of aspiring for leadership position in the country, saying “the position of a councillor or ward leader is fundamental and also very important for the development of the country”.

He said the involvement of the youths in politics, especially at the grassroots level, will enable them to take leadership positions and effect the change they desire instead of just complaining on the sidelines.

On his part, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, said the slow pace of development in the country is attributable to the appointment of loyal followers into positions of authority rather than those who are competent, adding that there was lack of good leadership training as a result of the country’s system of education which he said was structured to produce workers and not leaders.

“Before a person is appointed into leadership position, what readily comes to mind is, “is he loyal rather than is the person capable of doing the work? This is triumph of loyalty over competence, and the loyalty we talk about in Nigeria is actually sycophancy.

“If we want to have competent leaders, we must restructure to bring in innovations and leadership training,” he said.

Dogara charged the LGI to train leaders that would understand the times in which they lead and exude the competence required to tackle modern challenges, while charging those in leadership position to “remodel our system of education, to prioritize innovation to serve as agents of leadership”.

However, Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare said there was nothing wrong in having godfathers in politics as long as competence is given priority.

 He said: “The definition of godfatherism is not a monolith. In the context of our own politics, a godfather is someone who sits there, decides and takes all the decisions, decides who gets what, whether it is resources or positions.

“Also, before you can become a godfather, you must have paid some dues, you must have a level of influence, you must have some clout and you must have made sacrifices over time.

“But beyond that, we also have godfathers for our children. Don’t we? I think it is important that – and I am being careful in responding to this – even though we call it godfather in our clime, I can tell you that in other political climes they go by other names.

“The agenda of this government for the youth is still being achieved. This administration is barely halfway and we have clear landmarks that have shown the rare commitment of this government to the Nigerian youth.

“The #EndSARS protests that occurred, there are lessons learnt. But it also gave an opportunity to press the pause button and say ‘what has government done for the youth?’ My ministry updated and came up with almost 25 youth-focused programmes started in the past five years by this government. We also did an anecdotal research and found out that most of our youths did not know about these programmes.”

The minister added that while awareness campaign on the programmes were not enough, “our youths never really care because of deficit of trust in whatever is a government programme.”

Earlier in his opening remarks, the minister asked if Nigerian youths are ready and prepared to take the leadership of the country. He recalled that Nigeria had brilliant and well educated leaders before independence and during the First Republic.

Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Initiative, Hon Shina Peller, said the Lead Generation Initiative is a citizen and youth driven, apolitical non-governmental organisation that is committed to creating opportunities for young people to channel their creativity, energy, and aspirations to adding value to their communities and our country at large.

“We develop the interest of the youth in governance, social inclusion, and participation in the democratic and political processes in Nigeria.

“We achieve our aims and objectives through our programmes such as: Get Involved Leadership Training, Get Involved Regional Leadership Summits, Emerging Leaders Conference, Women Leadership Development Programme, Creative Open Crafts, National Entrepreneurial Competition, among others,” he said.

The US Senate confirmed retired general Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense on Friday, the second cabinet nominee of new President Joe Biden to gain approval and the first African American to lead the Pentagon.

Austin sailed through with overwhelming support from both Biden’s Democrats and opposition Republicans, who voted 93-2 in his favor.

The retired four-star general will be the first African American to lead the Department of Defense, and takes on the job as the Pentagon sees the need for greater efforts to root out racism in the ranks and give more opportunities for leadership positions to minorities.

Biden picked Austin, and the Senate endorsed him, despite a law that says the US military must be led by a civilian or, if a former military official, someone who has been out of the service at least seven years.

The requirement is to ensure civilian control of the military,

That meant both houses of Congress had to grant a waiver for Austin, who retired in 2016.

Biden chose a former officer he knew well from when he was vice president in the administration of Barack Obama.

Austin, a West Point graduate who served four decades in the military, was commander of US forces in Iraq and then head of the US Central Command covering the Middle East, from 2010 to 2016.

The two bonded because Austin was friendly with Biden’s late son when both were serving in Iraq.

Biden called him “uniquely qualified to take on the challenges and crises we face in the current moment” when announcing the nomination in December.

Austin, known to be media-shy and not particularly politically savvy, tweeted a statement quickly after gaining Senate approval.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to serve as our country’s 28th Secretary of Defense, and I’m especially proud to be the first African American to hold the position,” he wrote.

“Let’s get to work.”

– Key threats: China, extremism –
He honed in on two urgent issues facing the US military in his confirmation hearing on Tuesday.

He singled out China as the country’s most potent adversary.

Under his leadership, the Pentagon would “make sure that we are prepared to meet any challenge and that we continue to present a credible deterrent to China or any other aggressor who would want to take us on, and convince them that would be a really bad idea,” he said.

He also pledged to tackle extremists in the forces, after some members of the military took part in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by supporters of then-president Donald Trump.

“The activity that we’ve seen recently in terms of potential racists or extremist behavior within our ranks is in my view absolutely unacceptable,” Austin said.

“The job of the Department of Defense is to keep America safe from our enemies. But we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks,” he added.

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