By; RAYMOND TEDUNJAYE, Lagos
Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has refuted the claims by the Nigerian Police Force, Ogun State Command that his property located inside Jegba Republic between the outskirt of Kemta Housing Estate and Ilugun – Itoko community in Abeokuta was not invaded by herdsmen.
He explained that though he, alongside his family, were not physically attacked by the marauding herdsmen, his property was attacked and that such had been happening in times past.
The respected academic said that it was saddening that the police could resort to allegedly misinforming the public about the incident during such times when Nigerians were losing confidence in their ability to ensure justice.
Soyinka, through a statement released to newsmen on Thursday, maintained that contrary to police reports, the herdsmen invaded his property with herds and not two or three cows as presented by the security agency.
According to him, it was a herd – we have photos, so why the lie? It is so unnecessary, unprofessional, and suspiciously compromised.
Furthermore, he urged the police to be straightforward with public information, adding that failure to adhere to the basic form of conduct means that the public would lose total confidence in security agencies and constantly bypass them in times of civic unrest.
“How on earth could the police claim that my property was not invaded by cattle? It was. My groundsmen knew the drill and commenced the process of expelling them. Fortunately, I was then driving out and was able to lend a hand by vehicle maneuvering. Both cattle and herdsmen were flushed out of my property,” he said.
Narrating what transpired further, the respected academic said, “Once they were outside the gates, I came down from the vehicle and beckoned the herdsmen to come over. At first they pretended not to understand, then, as I approached, fled into the bush. We thereupon “arrested” the cows, confining them to the roadside, while I sent my groundsman, Taiye, to the police to come and take over. Since they took rather long in responding, I summoned a replacement and proceeded to the police station. On the way, we met a detachment, turned round, and together we returned to the scene of crime. The police wanted to commence combing the bush for the fugitives but I stopped them – what was the point? Keep the cows, I advised, and the owner will show up. Of course, that owner eventually did.
“I thoroughly resent the police version which suggests that the cows never invaded my home: home is not just a building, it includes its grounds. And it was not a stray cow, or two or three. It was a herd – we have photos, so why the lie? It is so unnecessary, unprofessional and suspiciously compromised. The police suggest that I have nothing better to do than to go accosting cows on the public road – to what end? If the police demand proof, the next time such an invasion takes place, I warn that there will be no lack for cadaver affirmation and the police will be officially invited to join in the ensuing suya feast. So please, let us get serious.
“Getting serious means seeking with a sense of urgency, ways of terminating mayhem, impunity, and the homicidal culture being imposed on us through some near cultic business minority who just happen to trade in cattle. It means not giving up on peaceful solutions, but also being prepared for the worst. Those of my line of thought have been working on various ways of sensitizing the nation to the very real and imminent danger issuing from this cattle aberration. The menace, I repeat, challenges us as a cohesive entity and as communities of free individuals, committed to the dignity of existence. Cattle imperialism under any guise is an obscenity to humanity. So let me serve notice that we are about to commence a process of public sensitization; we hope even the police will join hands with the agenda as it progresses,” the statement said.