Ekiti community asks violent prone herdsmen to leave, gives ultimatum

By Lateef Olu-Akanni and Ologeh Joseph Chibu

A community in Ekiti State has asked herdsmen on their territories to leave.

The community said the decision was taken to address challenges of insecurity and to boost efforts of the Ekiti State Government to rid the agrarian State of armed men.

All businesses relating to cattle trade have also been banished in line with the quest to ensure human and environmental security in tye ancient town known for agriculture and livestock production.

In a statement on Thursday, the Itapaji Progressive Union, (IPU) gave ultimatum to Fulani herdsmen to quit the community or face the wrath of the people.

The community express deep concern on the environmental implication of indiscriminate bush burning, killing of rare animal and plant species and the destruction of sacred groves and valuable forest resources linked to migrant herders. They insist as forest dependent people, there was the need to protect their indigenous knowledge and environmental sustainability.

Itapaji, located in Ajoni local government area of Ekiti State has witnessed a string of ceaseless attacks and kidnapping which has led to the death of at least one person, Dare Omotoyinbo said to have been killed by the herdsmen after a twilight invasion.

That day, Mr and Mrs Emmanuel who were holding a vigil in their church were kidnapped. In another incidence, the farm owned by Pastor Tunde Afe was invaded. The engineer was kidnapped by the herdsmen.

The town is a few kilometres away from the spot where two traditional rulers, Elesun of Esun and Onimojo of Imojo were killed earlier this year.

Itapaji Progressives Union (IPU) represents over 10,000 indigenes of the ancient community spread at home and abroad.

The Itapaji Traditional Council led by the Olu of Itapaji, His Royal Highness Oba AbdulKareem Adebanjo, and the deputy, High Chief Yisa Olaoye (Oluketu of Itapaji Ekiti), the Odofin, Chief Kazeem and others attended the strategic meeting where the decision was taken.

All cattle dealers in the town were asked to close their business to augment the ongoing moves by the Ekiti State government to enthrone security in the zone as well as boost agricultural yields.

All sons and daughters of the town doing cattle business in collaboration with the cattle were mandated to wind up the business forthwith to ensure peace reign in the town.

The Itapaji monarch, Oba Adebanjo, pleaded with his subjects to join hands with the officials of the IPU to ensure the town is rid of cattle trade, noting that the business has brought nothing but anguish and tales of woe into the community.

He noted that even as he is not having a single cow in his name, some people are still in the trade, employing herders to look after their cattle.

While the town has traditional harmless Fulani settlers dating back to a century who have assimilated, the area has seen recent mass migration of violent herders from the North, Mali,Chad and Niger who are suspected to nurse a completely dangerous agenda.

It will be recalled that there was a viral video recently in which the Itapaji monarch was accused of harbouring a large number of ‘Bororo’ (nomadic Fulani) in the community.

The spokesman of the IPU, Otunba Gboyega Adeoye, said the claims in the video were “fractured work of a lazy social media influencer, who did a shoddy information job by rushing to report a one-legged rumour, with no attempt made to confirm her claims from the accused.”

Oba Adebanjo who said the news in the video clip came to him as a rude shock said though there were migrants from diverse tribe in the community, adequate security measures have been taken by the Oba-in- Council to ensure that each migrant could be identified and prevented from constituting a threat.

He said “When the issue of insecurity was becoming worrisome, what I did was to invite every migrant, which included the Hausa, Fulani, Ibira, Basha, Tiv etc, to fill an identification form which detailed their names, occupation, age, the town/villages and local government areas they migrated from.”

He said the information was collated and handed over to the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), in Ikole Ekiti, to be forwarded to the State Commissioner of Police

He however said the presence of a category of migrants would terminate at the end of this year’s harvest season, as the community has resolved not to harbor such practice in view of the sensitive security situation of the moment.

The IPU called on all indigenes of the community to cooperate with the joint resolutions to ensure sanity is brought back into the land

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