Thunderstorm kills 36 cows on ‘sacred hill’ in Ondo

No fewer than 36 cows were said to have been struck dead by lightning on Saturday night on top of a sacred hill in Ijare community of Ifedore Local Government Area of Ondo State.

The incident has turned the hill, ‘Oke Owa’ located at the outskirt of the community to a tourist centre as people within and outside the community trooped out in large numbers to catch a glimpse of what happened.

It was gathered that the cows were being led to the hilltop regarded as  a sacred grove by some Fulani herdsmen when the incident happened.

A source informed Tribune Online that there was a heavy rain accompanied by thunder storm which shook the whole community.

The source described the incident as “the wrath of gods on the herdsmen.”

He noted that “herdsmen and their cows have desecrated the sacred grove which is forbidden in the town,” as he  disclosed “that the Fulani herdsmen have been occupying the hilltop for the past five days.”

Earlier before the Saturday night incident, he said the Fulani herdsmen had been warned by some chiefs in the town to stay off the grove.

According to him, only the king of the town and some chiefs are allowed to visit the hill just once in a year during the celebration of the new yam festival to perform some rituals.

He, however, said the repeated sound of thunder at the hilltop made the residents suspect that the gods were angry, which he said made them not to be surprised to learn about the development Sunday morning.

He said it was a hunter who later alerted the community on the death of 36 cows on the mountain top, after which it was said the traditional ruler of the town, the Olujare of Ijare, Oba Adegbamigbe Oluwagbenigun, delegated his chiefs to report to formally report the incident to the police and make an on the spot assessment of the situation.

WhenTribune Online  reporter visited the scene of the incident, he confirmed the death of the 36 cows as he found them still lying the hilltop where they were said to have been struck dead by thunder.

When assessing the situation, it was observed that the Fulani herdsmen were trying to settle on top of the hill as there was a shed under construction, and food stuffs like yam tubers and pepper were seen stored nearby.

When addressing journalists, the Olujare of Ijare, who spoke through his second in command, the Sapetu of Ijare, Chief Wemimo Olaniran, described the incident as “the wrath of the gods.”

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He frowned at the destruction of farmlands in the area by Fulani herdsmen and their cows, saying the community had warned them, which he said had even led to open confrontation on many occasions.

Olaniran said the residents noticed the Fulani herdsman ascending the hill which is about 30 minutes from the town some five days ago after destroying most of the farmlands and they were warned about the implications.

“We were there this morning and we saw about 36 cows dead apart from the one inside the bush. It has happened and there is nothing we can do, we regard it as the act of god which nobody can be a queried about.

“There were occasions like that but not as massive as we are having it now, to some individuals who desecrated the land, in the past we did witness thunder attack when you desecrate any part of Ijare particularly a sacred place like the grove.

“The dead cows will be there forever as part of the history in our land for people to see as a testimony in future that such a thing once happenes, a whole oba was buried there and heaven did not fall, not to talk of ordinary cows.

“Oke Owa is a sacred hill where the oba and some of his chiefs visited once a year during new yam festival to offer sacrifices on behalf of the community.

“Even those chiefs accompanying the oba must not go to the inner part of the hill because there is a particular place where only the oba has to enter and spend a night.

“This is a hill that the herdsmen wanted to desecrate with their cows. It is a taboo. When we heard about the incident, we invited the herdsmen and they confirmed that it was lightning that struck the cows.

“We went to the police station to report the matter and the Divisional Police Officer was contacted before chiefs including myself  went there.

“Those cows will remain there and rotten because nobody must touch them otherwise there will be a problem.”

The chairman of Miyetti Allah in Ondo State, Alhaji Garuba, confirmed the development and said the cows belonged to one Ladam, who is based in Kwara State but came to Ondo State not quite long.

Confirming the development, the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr Femi Joseph, said the matter has been reported at Ijare Police Station.

Joseph described the incident as a natural disaster and an unfortunate one which nobody can do anything about.

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