BREAKING!! Nigerian Soldiers Escort Herdsmen to Ogun State, Flog Residents For Refusing Herders
In Yewa North Local Government Area, Ogun State, not a few residents of Ketu-speaking villages were brutalized by soldiers who accompanied herdsmen to graze in the communities, prompting residents and monarchs to cry out for aid to the military and state government, KUNLE AKINRINADE reports.
Seye Mulero was panting like a rodent that had just run from a ravenous cat’s paws. He could hardly notice the sympathy provided by the relatives around him, encouraging him to take heart and seek medical attention in the hospital as he pulled up his shirt to reveal his badly hurt body in Yewa North Local Government Area, Ogun State, in Ubeku village.
“Sorry,” some of the women repeatedly said in Yoruba as Mulero pulled up his shirt to reveal his muscular body wounds from the flags, urging him to go to the hospital for treatment.
By speaking the truth to them, Mulero, one of the young men in the rustic village, had attracted the wrath of some soldiers. The 10 soldiers accompanied some herdsmen on a mission to threaten the villagers after resisting the herders’ attempt to graze their cattle in the community after alleged repeated attacks and murders of farmers who dared to protest the destruction of their farms.
On December 19, 2020, at around 2 pm, the herdsmen, who had left the village after their continued presence had been rejected by the villagers, abruptly resurfaced with a handful of soldiers from the 35th Artillery Brigade, Alamala, Abeokuta.
The troops went straight to the palace of Chief Olaleye Adigun, the traditional ruler of the town, 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, because of their brutal killing of residents and the devastation of their farmland in recent times, the herders would not be allowed to stay in the city.
“Mulero said: “Everyone was terrified by the soldiers’ acts and comments, but I called for courage to tell them how Mr. Yomi Akinola, a geography teacher, and two students from Community High School, Ibeku, among others, were killed by herdsmen while our women were raped and killed on their way to the farm.
The blunt comments made by Mulero angered the herdsmen, who immediately asked the soldiers to deal with him. The military men reportedly responded by mercilessly capturing, kicking and flagging the young man quickly, leaving him badly wounded.
Recalling the ugly experience, Mulero said, “Before I knew it, the herdsmen had touched the soldiers, pulling me out of the audience immediately and mercilessly whipping me with a wire whip.” It was as if I was stealing something precious.
As I talk, even after being treated in the hospital, my body still aches because of the wounds.
“As the soldiers escorted the herdsmen from one village to another all in an effort to intimidate us into allowing them to graze on our farms, numerous other villagers were subjected to the brutal act.”
But Mulero and the village of Ubeku were not the only individuals and regions to taste the bile of the soldiers who accompanied the herdsmen from one village to another in a military patrol van. At the behest of the herdsmen, innocent natives of Iselu, Ibeku, Agbon-Ojodu, Asa and other villages were also harassed and assaulted by the soldiers.
The herders and the complicit soldiers traveled to neighboring Asa after leaving Ubeku, where they reenacted the Ubeku scenario, causing confusion among the hapless villagers.
The herders saw Mulero’s brother, Gabriel Mulero, at Asa, accusing him of being among the crowd that ridiculed them after they beat up his brother. The soldiers grabbed the young man there and there, giving him some deafening slaps and kicking him mercilessly before whisking him away to Agbon-Ojodu, a neighboring village, where they dropped him off after the community elders begged for his freedom.
The hapless villagers would not utter a word at Agbon-Ojodu, having heard how the soldiers threatened the Muleros and attacked them. But some of the residents suffered extreme beatings from the soldiers for keeping mum despite their foreboding silence.
“Gabriel (Mulero) said: “I was coming back from the Asa party with a friend of mine named Mathew Adaramaja when my elder brother told me on the phone that some soldiers had brought herdsmen to our village and brutalized him.
“We remained away from the scene to avoid trouble and sat near some commercial motorcycle operators. Suddenly, the soldiers were led by one of the herdsmen named Ali to the position where we were sitting and accused us of being one of the people who opposed them.
Using fan belts, the soldiers descended on us and flagged us seriously. They bound our legs and threw us into their patrol, and they threatened to shoot us if we tried to hop and run away. They said they would take us to their Alamala barracks. We were accused of keeping the herdsmen from grazing on our farms and they promised to teach us a lesson.
However, when they arrived at the village of Agbon-Ojodu, the group elders pleaded with them to free us. We were heavily brutalized and had to go to the Ibek Health Center for help.
Sorrow, tears, blood from soldiers’ attacks
In recent times, some 29 villages in the region were attacked by terrorist herdsmen who were said to have camped in the neighboring town of Eggua, from where they moved with their hordes of cattle, devastating farmlands within the Ketu-Yewa communities, which share borders with the Republic of Benin.
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 are among the villages.
Because of the rich vegetation in the Ketu-speaking villages, the armed herdsmen, who typically lead their flock in search of pasture, were also fingered in the destruction of cash crops belonging to indigenous people, assaults, killing and raping of women who are mostly indigenous to the communities.
On January 10, 2020, in broad daylight in Agbon village, herdsmen reportedly hacked 70-year-old Pa Sola Ilo to death and chopped off his wife, Abidemi’s hand. Worried by the incident, in protest, villagers from the 29 communities staged a rally and declared persona non grata to the herders.
On Tuesday, May 5, 2020, one person was reportedly killed when suspected herdsmen abducted a policewoman and wounded two others in separate attacks in the Yewa North Local Government area of Ayetoro.
While the unidentified female police officer attached to the Police Area Command in Ayetoro was abducted and the car she was driving was abandoned at the side of the road, the herdsmen who had laid siege to the road were said to have shot dead the driver of a commercial bus traveling from Abeokuta to Ayetoro.
In Olorunda village, the herders also allegedly stabbed one Segun Ileyemi multiple times while attempting to rob him of his belongings, and he had to be rushed for treatment to Ayetoro General Hospital.
The legislator representing Yewa North and the Federal Constituency of Imeko-Afon, Hon. The spate of attacks was criticized by Olaifa Jimoh, who urged security forces to save the lives of the villagers.
Jimoh said: “It is no longer news that the legendary act of the Fulani herdsmen in my district is legendary as records are accessible at different security agency offices.” But how long is this going to continue?
“As they wait for my constituents, the herdsmen mostly lay siege to the roads, either to rob them of their belongings or to kidnap them outright.”
Suspected herdsmen involved in the killing of one Olabisi Afolabi and assaults on some women in the Moro and Eegelu villages in December were apprehended with the assistance of the local vigilance community and state police command operatives.
From the suspects, one AK47 rifle, 0.8mm live ammunition bits, 26 live catridges and two machetes were recovered-Mohammed Bello (40), Muhammed Momoh (30) and Yisau Umoru (30) (18).
While the suspects were paraded by the then Police Commissioner, Ahmed Illyasu, at the State Police Command in Eleweran, Abeokuta, the case never saw the light of day.
Inhabitants, monarchs protest, military authorities write.
Since then, palpable fear has taken over the area, with people deserting many of the communities for fear of falling prey to the marauding herders who are protected by military escorts.
The Nation was informed by panicky villagers of their plans to flee their communities for fear of herdsmen’s reprisals who were emboldened by soldiers’ help to violently storm their villages and further kill their crops and threaten them.
Oluwafemi Adeyemo, an indigenous man from Asa, said the incident was an insult to the villagers, who normally deserve adequate military security.
The aim of the herdsmen is to exterminate us and take over our villages, Adeyemo said, but we resisted them because they killed a lot of people around here and destroyed our farms for too long.
“In an attempt to coerce us into allowing them to live in our midst and further perpetrate their evil, it is therefore an insult for soldiers to lead them to our villages.”
Rafiu Alade, a native of Ibeku, said that the soldiers’ actions were a violation of indigenous rights.
In order to defend themselves from herdsmen, he urged the state government and military authorities to call on soldiers to prevent the indigenous people from resorting to self-help.
How can herdsmen be backed by soldiers to attack our community? Yet, those picked out by herdsmen as opposing their stay in the communities were flogged and beaten by the soldiers. That amounts to a violation of the fundamental human rights of people and a nod to the perpetual lawlessness demonstrated in our villages by herdsmen.
“It is high time that the government of the state and.