By; Bayo Akamo, Ibadan.
Fulani herdsmen in Oyo State Mondayday denied allegation that some herdsmen were allegedly vandalizing farmers crops in Ogbomoso and some Oke Ogun areas of the state.
The herdsmen under the name ‘Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria’ said this in Iseyin during a chat with journalists on the recent protest by some students alleging that the grazing activities of Fulani herdsmen have been causing damages to their farm lands.
Speaking through their Chairman, Mallam Yakubu Bello together with the association’s Assistant Secretary, Mallam Umar Garuba and the Youth leader, Alhaji Yusuff Haruna, he declared that Fulani herdsmen in the state are law abiding residents contrary to the allegation by the students.
Mallam Bello stressed that there was never a time when any of the herdsmen in the state engaged in any destructive activities on farmlands Ogbomoso, Oke Ogun or any other parts of Oyo State.
Rather than engaging in such activities, Mallam Bello disclosed that the herdsmen were working towards peaceful coexistence with their hosts even when two of their members Abdu Jika and Buba Gajere were allegedly gruesomely murdered by some farmers in the area over the alleged vandalization with four suspects already apprehended by the security agents over the matter.
“We were embarrassed and disturbed by the publications by a section of the media.We have for long remained committed to the peace agreement signed by the stakeholders in farming and cattle rearing including the state Police Command last year. We challenged the protesters to hand over those arrested to us for scrutiny and the Police for prosecution,” he said.
The Fulani herdsmen insisted that there was never a time that any of them was found engaged in any act of destruction as alleged by the protesting students, but that the Fulanis were always cooperating with their host communities and security agencies in ensuring a peaceful co-existence despite the alleged killings of the four members.
“When some farmers sometimes reported destruction of their crops, a sum of N4Million was paid to them as compensation in the presence of traditional rulers and security agents. This was done in the spirit of reconciliation and harmonious living”.
Mallam Bello maintained that those destroying crops in farm lands and raping women are “the unscrupulous and criminal elements who are rearing cattle illegally with the intent of causing bad blood and enmity between the law abiding Fulanis in the entire state and their host communities particularly in Ogbomoso, Oke Ogun and Ibarapa areas in the state”
Mallam Bello while praising the Oyo State Police Commissioner, Mr Leye Oyebade for his proactive measures towards aborting violence in the state also commended traditional rulers in the state for their hospitality.
While advising farmers in the state against taking laws into their hands in dealing with suspects, he said the herdsmen leadership on their part “will monitor the activities of our members and check passers by from other states”
On the allegation by the students to the state House of Assembly alleging that the grazing activities of Fulani herdsmen have been causing damages to their farm lands, Bello said the allegation against his members was false and baseless.
It will be recalled that the students during their protest last week demanded that “cows must leave our lands, Fulani can stay. Cows are causing damages to our farms. This affects us as students as our parents’ income from their farms yield is gravely affected. So measures should be put in place to curtail these excesses”
By; Bayo Akamo, Ibadan.