Leave Yoruba land now or face confrontation, Afenifere tells killer Fulani herdsmen

Pan-Yoruba political group, Afenifere, on Wednesday, ordered killer Fulani herdsmen to move out of the South-West, declaring that refusal to comply with the directive within as reasonable time might lead to confrontation by the Yoruba.

The group, while expressing serious concern about the high number of deaths in the region and the country in general caused by the Fulani herdsmen. which it put at 30,000 between 2015 and 2019, and holding the Federal Government responsible and accountable for such killings of innocent citizens, warned the National Assembly not to amend the Land Use Act with the intent to change the predominance of land allocation in states to the Federal Government which may allow for the implementation of the suspended Ruga project.

A leader of the group, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, issued this order at a press conference in Lagos, with other leaders and members in attendance, even as he sounded it very loud and clear that corporate Yoruba had never questioned the continued existence of Nigeria, expressing the hope the no one pushes Yoruba to that.

Those in attendance included Professor Banji Akintoye, Professor Akin Osuntokun, Dr Femi Okunrounmu, Mr Yinka Odumakin, Chief Supo Shonibare, Alhaji Sola Lawal, among others.

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“We demand their immediate exit from Yorubaland and if they refuse to leave in a reasonable time, we will not stop our people from confronting them.

“Yorubaland has now become the epicentre of the terror of these Fulani marauders and our people are fed up with the shedding of innocent blood that is quite anathema to our respect for human life which would see us remembering those who died peacefully 50 years down the line,” Adebanjo said.

Adebanjo said the mass killings in the country which had been linked to Fulani herdsmen/militia had been troubling the country, noting that Nigerians were perplexed that instead of the government enforcing the laws against the Fulani marauders-foreign or local, it had been galore of excuses.

This is as he expressed disappointment with the refusal of the government to allow elected governors have state police, while on the other hand permitting the setting up Fulani bandit-vigilantes on Yoruba soil in addition to the Fulani militias terrorising the same land.

“We are miffed that those who will not allow our elected governors have police are now setting up Fulani bandit-vigilantes on our soil in addition to the Fulani militias terrorising our land,” he said.

Speaking on the issue of Ruga project and its suspension, the Afenifere leader said the call for the amendment of the Land Use Act which put all lands under governors by the Senate president has confirmed the alarm raised by Southern and Middle Belt leaders that the project was suspended to amend the Land Use Act so the Federal Government could directly allocate land for the project.

Chief Adebanjo, while recalling the statement made by presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, that the Federal Government had gazetted lands all over Nigeria for Ruga before they realised it had taken its illegality too far, restated the group’s call on the National Assembly lawmakers to resist any tinkering with the Land Use Act in order not to further encourage the killer herders in their dastardly act.

“Between 2015 and 2019, about 30,000 people had been killed by the Fulani herdsmen/militia across the country. And apart from not bringing them to book, the Buhari-led administration had taken so many steps which betrayed the encouragement being given to these troublers of Nigeria,” Adebanjo said.

Adebanjo condemned the recent killing of Mrs Olufunke Olakunri, daughter to leader of Afenifere by suspected herdsmen, saying her death dealt a devastating blow on the Yoruba nation, just as he called on the government to find her real killers and not the innocent people around the communities she was killed.

According to him, the killing followed an established pattern of raping, kidnapping and killing in a coordinated and apparently state-ignored attempt to create fear through insecurity across Nigeria.

“We cannot continue to live under these conditions. The blood of our people will no longer be used to water the tree of a dysfunctional unitary order,” the elder statesman said, calling for an immediate timeline for a return to a federalist Nigeria that would allow for autonomy for each state to run its internal affairs.

“The activities of Fulani herdsmen/bandits/kidnappers and other miscreants would have been effectively dealt with if the governors as chief security officers of their states had control of the security agencies.

“The current proposed security budget for 2019 is N1.76 trillion. A devolved entity would have enabled better utilisation of part of that expenditure, particularly in the over N300 billion for policing which is further subsidised by state governments’ additional allocations and over N600 billion intended for internal affairs.

“The past few years have been troubling for our country as we have witnessed mass killings of people in the country, most of which have been linked to Fulani herdsmen/militia and the Nigerian state has not been able to dispel the allegations by unravelling the brain behind the killings and applying the law against them.

“We demand an immediate timeline for a return to a federalist Nigeria so that we can have the autonomy to run our internal affairs and failure to do so will constrain our capacity to continue to restrain our people from embracing self-determination.

“We task the government to find the real killers of Mrs Olakunri and not the innocent people that the communities around where she was killed have alleged are being randomly arrested and put an end to the genocide in our zone and across the country,” the Afenifere chieftain said.

“The Federal Government has been careless and insensitive in the handling the menace of Fulani /herdsmen militias in the country. First, it was outright denial it was engaged in by saying those carrying AK47 about and killing people were foreign Fulani. The president specifically said they were Gaddafi men let loose from Libya and yet they were not arresting them.

“Next, they moved to accuse people of spreading hate speech against the local Fulani. It got to a ridiculous stage that when Miyetti Allah is accused of any crime it is either the Ministry of Information or presidential spokesperson becoming the mouthpiece of the group.

“It is now clear we Yoruba have had enough, as the Ooni of Ife, the Alaafin of Oyo and Professor Wole Soyinka and other Yoruba patriots have warned.

“We sound it very loud and clearly that corporate Yoruba have never questioned the continued existence of Nigeria and we hope no one pushes us to that,” he added.

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