THE South West Security Stakeholders Group and Afenifere, a Yoruba socio-political group, on Friday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to prove his innocence by publicly condemning the carnage, banditry and other nefarious acts being perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen across the South West.
The traditional security groups comprising Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Agbekoya, Hunters’ Group, Isokan Ile Yoruba, Vigilante Group of Nigeria, Ibarapa Group and Community Society Awareness Initiative, at a stakeholders’ meeting initiated and chaired by the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Chief Gani Adams, held in Lagos, condemned banditry and the invasion of the South West by Fulani herders.
They implored the government to address the situation before it descends into anarchy. Speaking on a statement credited to the Minister of Defence, Major-General Bashir Magashi (retd), calling on Nigerians to defend themselves against criminals, the Afenifere spokesman, Mr Yinka Odumakin, said the defence forces of Yorubaland were ready to defend the South West against aggressors.
He said: “Now that the Minister of Defence has admitted that the Federal Government has failed and that we should defend ourselves, we are calling on the defence forces in Yorubaland to look at measures to defend our land.
“We are now vulnerable in our land. We will not fold our arms until we are killed in our land. Enough is enough! We thank the Aare Onakakanfo for rising to the charge and by God’s grace, Yoruba land will not fall to the hands of our enemies. We will defend our land. We will defend our people.
“Incessant killings of Yoruba by the Fulani in the South West must stop. About two years ago, a daughter of Afenifere leader was killed. An Oba was killed and so many leaders across the South West. We remember Dr Aborede from Ibarapa who was killed by Fulani herders like an animal.
“The recent onslaught was in Shasha, Ibadan, where our people were molested. Yoruba people don’t molest others. We are peace-loving people. There is a saying in Yoruba that goes, ‘when you are in a city of lepers, you fold your arms so that you look like them’.
We don’t cause insecurity to others. But of late, people have been provoking us on our lands. We are using maturity because we don’t want any breakdown of law and order. At this stage, however, we have to appeal to the Aare Ona Kakanfo, Yoruba war leader, that war is at our doors.
“About two weeks ago, Professor Wole Soyinka also said war is already at our doors. Two days later, they invaded and ransacked his home in Abeokuta. Our Nobel Laureate means nothing to the Fulani herdsmen while no Yoruba man will ever dare to molest a person of Professor Wole Soyinka’s status in Hausa or Fulani land. We have great respect for other people but we are not respected in our land. We are treated anyhow.”
Earlier in his opening remark, Chief Adams explained that the security meeting was prompted by the urgent need to protect Yoruba nation from external aggression.
He said: “On Sunday morning, I received some leaders of Yoruba land in my house. We discussed insecurity in the South West and they said in my capacity as the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land, I have to summon all the traditional security organisations to hold an important meeting on how to secure our land.
“Yoruba leaders believe that no society triumphs without the support of relevant security organisations. This is the main reason we are gathered here today. It is to lend our voice to the frequent attack on Yoruba land and proffer solutions.
“Our gathering here is about insecurity in the South West. The security situation in the South West in the last six months is so dire and therefore calls for an urgent intervention. We have never witnessed such situation in the history of the Yoruba race and that is why we are gathered here to seek ways of addressing the challenges.
“We believe at the end of the meeting, we will formulate strategies and gather intelligence to complement the efforts of state and federal security agencies.
“The South West Security Stakeholders Group has been in existence for over a year but its operations have been hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am compelled to reactivate it and that explains why we are here today. I have always said that if the Yoruba leaders are ready, I am ready. If the traditional leaders are ready, I am ready. If our political players are ready, I am ready. Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land cannot operate in isolation. The office of the Aare Ona Kakanfo is a traditional military institution in the history of Yoruba land. We are getting there gradually. I give thanks to all the leaders that are here today for the meeting.
“Meanwhile, we urge our Obas and traditional leaders of Yoruba land not to hesitate to invite any of the groups listed above in the event of any threat to the security of any Yoruba person by invading groups anywhere on our land.”
Having reviewed the security situation in the country and in Yoruba land in particular, the stakeholders expressed support for Amotekun, the South West security network, while also calling on the Federal Government to arrest the apparent insecurity before it degenerates into anarchy.
They also reiterated their call for a return to true federalism which, according to them, was the political arrangement endorsed by past leaders of the nation at independence.
They said it would allow the different regions of the country to take proper control of their affairs, including security.
Other eminent personalities at the meeting include Gbonka Gboyega Adejumo, Bashorun Akin Osuntokun, Ogbeni Sola Lawal and Chief Olumuyiwa Okunowo.