North, where are your condolences?

DATELINE:  Sunday, March 7, 2021. The sitting room was cheerless and teary. On a sofa that has seen better days, sat Mrs. Toyin Akeju. She was sandwiched among her three children — all boys, aged seven to three. On Mrs Akeju’s lap was a baby boy of about 10 months old. Sitting directly opposite these disconsolate folks was Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State. The governor’s outstretched arms depicted hopelessness. The entire sombre atmosphere painted helplessness. The emotional combustions reached its apogee when the governor got up and placed his left hand on Madam Akeju’s shoulder. It was a gesture of consolation. Even baby Akeju shared in the anguish of the family. The cries were heartrending. It was a replica of the biblical Rachael weeping for her children because they were no more. Something terrible has happened to the Akejus. The pillar on which they rested had been pulled down. Thanks to yet another murderous and blood spilling killer herdsmen, who on Friday, March 5, visited death on Mr. Toyin Akeju, who was gruesomely murdered on his farm alongside his farm hand, simply identified as Daodu. Their sin before the summary execution was their audacity to caution the herdsmen against running their herds over the victim’s farmland. The altercation took place on Thursday, March 4. The executioner-herdsmen left and returned in ambush the next day. Akeju and Daodu went to the farm on Friday, not suspecting anything. That happened to be the last time they would ever farm in their lives. They duo were summarily executed. The herdsmen shot them and left their corpses for the birds of the air and wild animals to feast on. Meanwhile, Akeju’s wife and children were waiting for the man of the house to return. They waited in vain. Like Kofi Awoonor depicts in his poem, Songs of Sorrow, “Alas! A snake has bitten me. My right arm is broken, and the tree on which I lean is fallen”, is all Mrs. Akeju could mutter. Amotekun Corps discovered the dead bodies on the farm the following day. Akeju’s children will grow up to, first query why their father was killed, then hate the country, assuming they get the right answer to their question; coupled with the fact that their father’s killers will neither be apprehended nor punished because those killers are children of the fortress — the untouchable Fulani stock of the contraption called Nigeria. The visit of Governor Fayemi was to console the family. The event happened at Isaba Ekiti in Ikole Local Government Area of Ekiti State. Interestingly, Isaba Ekiti is less than seven minutes from my own town. Like we say, “aisan to ba nse Aboyade, gbogbo oloya lo nse”-the disease which afflicts the head of Oya worshipers afflicts every worshiper. Nobody sleeps with his two eyes closed in my home town anymore. Fear sleeps and wakes up with them. I put a call across to my family members who also farm and their responses were and are blood-cuddling. The summary of what they told me is in our Ekiti dialect: “hun kan la sa pani. Ha sha se tori Fulani ka mo lo soko ya mu hun jije”-something kills a man. We won’t because of Fulani marauders desist from going to the farm to get what to eat again. They have resigned to fate. If killer herdsmen hacked them to death, so be it. Even Fayemi, who is the chief security officer of the state described the killings as “one killing too many”. But he has not seen anything yet. He could not have gotten to Oye Ekiti, on his way back to Ado Ekiti the state capital, when another tragedy struck. Yet in Ikole Local Government. Another set of killer herdsmen struck at another farm in Ijesa-Isu Ekiti and killed a farmer. “Eemo re”-this is an abomination, shouted the people. The outcry had not subsided when another alarm was raised at Asin Ekiti, some three minutes drive from Isaba Ekiti. Yet another farmer came under the bloody pastime of another set of herdsmen. Luckily for the Asin victim, he is still oscillating in a state of “baaku, baaye”-between life and death. The Isaba Ekiti killing was reported by all the dailies and many electronic mass media stations reviewed the story. Hopelessness is walking naked in my home state of Ekiti. Farmers go to farm in groups and must return within hours. Killer herdsmen are on the prowl, everywhere. Unfortunately, those who own them, those who bred them and those who donated the accursed semen which sired this brood of vipers would have us keep accommodating them.

The activities of killer herdsmen all over the place have turned Nigeria to an “igbo odaju” (forest of the heartless). It is a forest where vultures eat the eyeballs and livers of the orphan. And this would not have been so if those who are supposed to call the marauders to order have not themselves eaten the head of the tortoise. Once a man eats the head of the tortoise, he becomes heartless; his milk of human kindness is spilled, he loses every sense of empathy and becomes unrepentant like Lucifer! That is why it is forbidden to eat such. The killer herdsmen were sired by some people. They are not meteors which dropped from space. There are leaders from where they come from up North. The zone has the most vocal groups ranging from the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF to the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, and other sundry groups which dance awilo, anytime they think their blood thirsty children are under reprimand down South. The Isaba Ekiti killings happened on Friday. The news hit town on Saturday. The mass media carried the news on Sunday. Alas! The Northern elders have not read the papers since then. The batteries of their transistor radios have run down and there has been no electricity supply to their homes in the last 96 hours-four full days after the incident. Today is Tuesday, yet I have not heard the presidents of ACF utter a single word of either condemnation of the dastardly act or condolences to the bereaved. The Northern governors entered into a sudden conspiracy of silence. The Emirs up North, who by virtue of their positions, are custodians of everything that is noble and ideal, have not sent any condolence team or even messages to my home state, Ekiti, where herdsmen — their children, killed farmers. Only an elder “to je ori ahun” an elder who eats three square meals prepared with the head of a tortoise behaves in such a manner.

Rather than empathise with the families of the Ekiti farmers who were hurriedly dispatched to the great beyond, the North enlisted its mega force to publish and circulate how Fulani herders are being maltreated down South. The banner headline reads: “How South West Thugs Burn Our Homes, Cattle and Food-Fulani Returnees to Kaduna”. Take a moment and click on the link to the story as reported by the North mouthpiece and you will only be disappointed at what you get! With a screaming headline like this, you will expect to see charred bodies of cows, burnt houses, scattered personal effects and distraught men and women, chased by “thugs”. The narrative ends at the headline. Nothing more. The whole stuff was a regurgitation of the tales told by herdsmen who claimed to have fled Oke Ogun, Oyo State and relocated to their home base in Ladugga, Kaduna in the wake of the Igangan crisis. No new information; nothing extraordinary. A pure red herring aimed at shifting attention from the killings in Ekiti and elsewhere to a dormant issue that happened almost three weeks or more ago. Even in the stuff, the returnee herders claimed to have lived in Oyo State for between six to eight years. In those six to eight years, they had no cause to flee until their kinsmen began their bloodletting activities of killing farmers, raping their wives and daughters and feeding their cows with the farm produce laboriously cultivated by their victims. The rational thing for elders in any community would have  been to ask what went wrong that a people who accommodated you for as long as eight years, all of a sudden, woke up to chase you away? We must get this right: nobody in his right senses will approve the maltreatment of another person. I don’t subscribe to such. Whether Fulani, Igbo, Nupe, Igala, Ndokwa or any tribe, no Nigerian should be molested anywhere on account of language, tribe and nationality. But that is where it stops. No Nigerian also, no matter who promotes him or her, should go to another man’s house and begin to misbehave. The Fulani stock, especially in this dispensation, is wearing a new garb because no matter what they do, the powers that be back them up. They ignited the Shasha crisis in Ibadan recently. Today, only the Ibadan people who stood to defend their fathers’ land are in court. The northerners who started the whole unfortunate saga are asking the Federal Government, which is always in acquiescence of their demands, to pay them billions of naira in compensation. This is the same way the negotiator-in-chief, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, is asking for huge compensations for bandits that have killed thousands of Nigerians. The boldness of killer herdsmen is not for fun; the impetus to kill and kill more is provided by the authorities.


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