Herders under the aegis of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), has denied claim that its members were behind the red flag hoisted at Orin Ekiti, in Ido/Osi Local Government Area of Ekiti State.
The Head of Miyetti Allah in Ido/Osi council, Alhaji Adamu Abashe, spoke in Ado Ekiti on Friday during a consultative forum between Orin community and herders resident in Ido /Orin axis to resolve the lingering crisis between the cattle rearers and some aggrieved farmers.
The community had on December 18, last year raised alarm over alleged intention to annex its land by suspected herdsmen, alleging that the red flag hoisted by the herders in Orin Farmstead was a signal that a portion of the community had been forcefully captured.
Debunking the allegations, Abashe said: “We didn’t know how the flags got there. We were not responsible. We have lived in Orin Ekiti for over 30 years. We have been living together peacefully but in recent times, things have changed.
“When I was kidnapped, I did not say Orin people were responsible, because we are brothers. It was after my kidnap that the kidnappers came to kill a Tiv woman in that farmstead.
“When they kidnapped my labourer, I paid N300,000 as ransom and I didn’t say Orin people were behind it. I was not happy with the killings and destruction in Orin. So, we are not planning evil for these people that had lived peacefully with us”
Abashe added that those fomenting trouble in the area were herders from the Northern states and not those that are resident in Ekiti
“Those perpetrating killings and destruction of farmlands in Orin are outsiders from the North but with efforts coming from government, Orin community and Fulani people, all these issues will be resolved.
“Orin people are not my enemies but the bandits roaming in the town caused this disagreement. But If you have anything against me, kindly forgive me. Let us live together as brothers”, he pleaded.
But despite the appeal by Fulani leader, the people of Orin Ekiti insisted that Abashe and his people must vacate their community where they live.
Speaking on behalf of the community, Mr. Omotosho Kayode, insisted that herders were allegedly responsible for killings, hoisting of the flags and destruction of farms worth over N50 million in the town.
“Two years ago, they hoisted one white flag with red linen and 15 days after, a pregnant Tiv woman and our kinsman, Mr. Emmanuel Ilori was killed last year and these scenarios may not allow us to allow Fulani herders to live with us.
“These people are giving us a lot of discomforts. We appeal to Ekiti government to ask them to leave. We don’t want Fulani on our land anymore. We are peaceful people. We don’t want Orin Ekiti to be known for negative news”.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Security Matters, Brigadier Gen. Ebenezer Ogundana, advised the warring parties to tolerate each other in the interest of peace.
“The essence of this discussion is how we can live together peacefully. We also want to fashion out how all the herders coming into Ekiti are identified and accepted . We have lived together for so many years and we will continue to live together as a family.
“If anybody commits a crime, we should be able to identify him. Some persons had been killing, destroying farms and hoisted flags at Orin Ekiti and wrote keep off on it. We want to investigate who were behind that. Government won’t fold its arms and allow these to continue.
“We want to work out some conditions to control cattle -farmers’ relations , so that we can live in peace. Continue to tolerate yourselves until truce is reached on this issue. Every Nigerian can live anywhere, but there are owners of the land and settlers and the two must learn how to respect one another”, he said.
In his remarks, the Information Commissioner, Mr Bamidele Olumilua, said peace is key to Governor Kayode Fayemi-led government, urging the two parties to sheathe their swords and see themselves one.
Olumilua, however, directed the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to keep in its custody, the cows arrested by its Agro-Rangers unit pending the resolution of the crisis.