By Chris Chimezie
Determined to curb the incessant clashes between Hausa-Fulani herdsmen and farmers in the state, the Ondo State Government has said it will discourage night and underage grazing of cattle in the four local government areas of Akokoland and ensure proper registration of Fulanis in their domains.
The government also promised that the police will be encouraged to intensify patrol around Auga axis and other dangerous areas that have been identified.
These formed part of the resolutions contained in a communiqué issued by the Dispute and Resolution Committee constituted by the government to proffer workable solutions to the Fulani herdsmen and famers clashes in some parts of the state and resolve disputes the crises might have generated for peaceful co-existence.
The communiqué was issued shortly after the inauguration of its Akoko chapter held at the Akoko North Local Government Secretariat in Ikare-Akoko.
Inaugurating the Akoko Chapter of the committee, the State Chairman of the Committee and Chief of Staff to the Governor, Chief Olugbenga Ale enjoined the Hausa Fulani herdsmen and farmers in the state to form a common front with the collaborative efforts of relevant stakeholders towards ending the lingering clashes between them and to fight insecurity in Akokoland.
Mostly affected by the clashes are the four Local Government areas in the entire Akokoland, an ugly trend that compelled government to take the bold step to constitute the committee which would brainstorm with stakeholders with a view to ending the trend.
Represented by the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the Governor on security, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo, Ale noted that the committee is saddled with the responsibility of proffering workable solutions to the Fulani herdsmen and farmers’ clashes in some parts of the state and resolve disputes the crises might have generated for peaceful co-existence.
While reiterating the present administration’s readiness to support and strengthen security agencies in the state to checkmate activities of kidnappers and Fulani herdsmen, he enjoined everyone not to take laws into their hands, adding that he would find a lasting solution to the disturbances.
Airing their views at the meeting, the four Caretaker Chairmen in the local government; Mr Adeyemi Akinniyi (Akoko South-East), Mr Augustine Oloruntogbe (Akoko South-West), Mr Rafiu Eniayewu (Akoko North-East), and Arc. Moradeyo Ajayi (Akoko North-West), commended Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for responding swiftly to save the situation from blowing out of proportion.
They equally lauded the untiring efforts of security operatives for yielding to their distress calls, saying their timely responses have also reduced the crises which would have snowballed into a bigger battle.
The Caretaker Chairmen who admonished the Hausa and Fulanis harbouring strangers that would tarnish their image, enjoined them to report strange faces to security operatives for immediate action.
They appealed to them to eschew violence and toe the path of peace with the host communities and co-exist with love like brothers and sisters. They promised to further assist security agents with logistics towards intensifying their patrol which according to them, would guarantee a situation whereby residents of the area and travelers would move freely without the fear of being kidnapped.
Also speaking, the Olukare of Ikare-Akoko and Chairman, Ondo State Council of Obas, Oba Akadiri Momoh noted that the Hausas and residents of the area have maintained a cordial relationship for decades, but wondered what could have led to the avoidable incessant clashes.
“We have all been co-existing like brothers and sisters for more than 60 years. Let’s embrace peace and see ourselves as one for the development of the communities and the state at large”, he appealed.
On his own, the Olubaka of Oka-Akoko, Oba Yusuf Adebori Adeleye thanked the state Governor, Arakunrin Akeredolu for his quick intervention which has helped to restore peace into the community.
The monarch, who lamented the spate of kidnapping in the region, said security agencies need to be empowered the more so as to cripple the activities of the hoodlums.
Oba Adeleye, while commending Governor Akeredolu for the initiative, expressed hope that the committee will proffer solutions to this issue that has caused them sleepless nights.
The monarch, however, enjoined the youths to shun hemp smoking and intake of hard drugs that could compel them to indulge in criminal activities.
In the same vein, the Alale of Akungbaland, Oba (Dr) Isaac Adeyeye, while proffering solution to the incidence of kidnapping in the area, appealed to the state government to endeavour to fix potholes on the highways, describing them as the spots where the hoodlums hide to perpetrate their heinous crimes.
“Kidnappers take advantage of bad portions of the roads to swoop on their unsuspecting victims who would have stopped or slowed down to navigate the bad portion of the road”, he said.
The Seriki Hausa in Akoko South West, Jamil Ibrahim and the representative of the Fulanis in the state, Alhaji Aliu Abubakar explained that those who perpetuate the act are not mainly from their end but outsiders claiming to be part of them.
“We do not graze during nights and graze our cows with ordinary stick, but the strange Fulani herdsmen does theirs carrying guns and dangerous weapons.
“Our fathers have lived all their lives here and rared their cows here and there has never been clash of any form between them and the host communities.
“We have co-existed peacefully and some of us even married their daughters. We are all experiencing a clash of this nature for the first time and we condemn it in its totality”, he stated.
The duo enjoined the public to always alert them if they notice any strange individuals claiming to be from their end and assured of their readiness to assist stakeholders in fishing out the evil doers that have soiled their names.
Representative of the farmers, Mr Emmanuel Ajayi, lamented the hardship the herdsmen have subjected farmers to in Akoko by destroying all they have laboured for on their farmlands.
Agrieved, Ajayi called on government and security agents to take drastic measures towards ending the ugly trend so that their labour in their various farms would not be in vain.
He charged the Hausa-Fulani Herdsmen resident in the communities to assist security agents in identifying the strange herdsmen, saying it is them who can easily identify the strangers among them.
A Community leader, Alhaji Ibrahim Kilani lauded the efforts of the Governor and the security agents towards ensuring that peace returns to the troubled area.
He appealed to the committee to further strengthen the operation of the security agents through the provision of more patrol vehicles especially in areas like the Isua, Ise, Auga, Akunnu roads confronted with security challenges.
Reading the communique at the end of the meeting, Alhaji Dojumo said the four local government Chairmen in Akokoland will serve as Chairmen of their various council area of the newly inaugurated Dispute and Resolution Committee.
Its members, according to the communique will include all the traditional rulers, representatives of farmers, Hausas and Fulanis herdsmen, opinion leaders, all security agencies including Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) in the four local government.
He enjoined residents to expose the strange Fulanis to the appropriate authorities and the security agencies whenever they are sighted in the community, border and anywhere for quick response.
He, however, stressed that all stakeholders must be united to put an end to the ugly trend, saying accusations and counter-accusations will not solve the problem.
Present at the meeting were members of the State Dispute and Resolution Committee who are: the representative of the Brigade Commander, Major Andrew Garuba, Ondo State Commissioner of Police, SP Abdul Olayinka, representative of NSCDC Commandant, Permanent Secretary, Cabinet and Service Matters office of the Governor, Mr Gbenga Elewuju, representative of SA to the Governor on Agric and Agri-Business, Mrs Stella Dada among others.