Leaders of the OPC and the Agbekoya across the South-West told SUNDAY PUNCH in separate interviews that they had begun to mobilise their members as a proactive measure against the onslaught of Fulani herdsmen.
The National Publicity Secretary of the Agbekoya Farmers Association, Chief Olatunji Bandele, said as many as 1,000 of his members had already been drafted.
Bandele said, “We have established a vigilance group and it will take off with 1,000 men any moment from now. We are training others who will join later. The vigilantes, who would be on oath, will be deployed in to all the nooks and crannies of Yorubaland.
“Ex-security personnel, who are now our members, are handling the training. Agbekoya from inception was established to fight for human rights. We fought for the rights of farmers during the time of the late Gen. Adeyinka Adebayo in the old Western Region.
“Members of our vigilance group can carry arms; we will get licences for their guns. In any case, we are not solely depending on ammunition. Our forefathers didn’t fight with sophisticated weapons. We can fight without modern arms.”
The Ondo State chapter of the OPC also vowed to stop the activities of the Fulani herdsmen who are terrorising some farmers in the state.
The state coordinator of the group, Mr. Olayemi Egbeola, who spoke with one of our correspondents, said the group was already holding series of meetings to devise means to tackle the herdsmen.
He said, “We have started mobilising our members across the state to flush out the killer herdsmen from our farmlands. We will get to all the nooks and crannies of the state.
“We are not afraid of their weapons. Let them come with whatever weapon they have. Our people should be assured that we will conquer the marauders and flush them out of the South-West.”
Also, the state coordinator of OPC in Ekiti State, Sola Ojo, said the group was ready to secure farmlands against Fulani herdsmen or any criminal gang.
Although he did not mention the strength of his men, he said there were enough hands to do the job at any time.
He said, “OPC is meant to defend the Yoruba and protect our heritage. We are cautious in what we do. We take directives from the Aare Ona Kakanfo, Gani Adams. We are equal to the task even though we don’t carry AK-47 rifles.
“We, however, need government support in terms of logistics so that we can move round the farms without much stress. We don’t need to carry AK-47 before we confront murderers. We conquered Badoo criminal gang in Ikorodu without carrying guns.”
Similarly, the coordinator of the OPC in Osun State, Adedeji Aladesawe, said the leadership of the group had asked its members to be on the alert to defend the state if the herdsmen failed to stop their incessant attacks.
Aladesawe said, “We are prepared for the herdsmen. What I will say is that we are prepared but I will not say more than that. I can tell you that it won’t be easy for them any longer in the South-West.
“We can’t fold our arms and watch the criminals continue to kill our people and destroy farmlands in Yorubaland. We won’t allow that again.”
Defend Yourself Against Killer Herdsmen – OPC Tells Benue, Kogi Residents
On May 2, 2018
The Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) New Era on Tuesday enjoined people of Benue and Kogi States and other states experiencing killings of innocent Nigerians by suspected herdsmen to henceforth reject it by defending themselves.
OPC New Era while condemning what it described as ‘lackadaisical’ attitude of President Muhammadu Buhari towards finding a lasting solution to the problem, added that the current government in Nigeria is a complete failure when it comes to security.
The group in a press statement signed by Comrade Razak Arogundade (President) and Comrade Adeshina Akinpelu (Public Relations Officer) condemned President Muhammadu Buhari for failing in his constitutional responsibility of protecting the life of an average Nigerian.
The duo, however, suggested that, “time has come for people to find other alternatives to defend themselves”.
They added that, “How can you preside over the affairs of a Nation when you cannot protect the life of an average Nigerian? The Fulani herdsmen are killing innocent members of the public with impunity and yet your government is on a daily basis defending them, coming up different ridiculous excuses.
“As a Yoruba pressure group, we are appealing to Nigerians especially people of Benue, Kogi and some parts of the country which have been experiencing recurrent killings by Fulani herdsmen to find alternative ways of defending themselves”.
Speaking further, OPC New Era also warned the marauding herdsmen to steer clear of Yorubaland.
“OPC New Era is using this medium to warn these terrorists called ‘Fulani herdsmen’ to steer clear of Yorubaland because we are prepared to protect our people from any form of attack. Government at various levels in Southwestern part of Nigeria should support OPC and other pressure group to defend and protect our people from these criminals”.
The group while commensurating with government of Oyo state and the people of Ibarapa geo-political zone over the demise of the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Michael Adeyemo, however, urged the state government to continue to give the people of the zone its due politically.
The statement added “The group also commiserated with the people and government of Oyo state over the untimely demise of the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Honourable Michael Adeyemo.
“We are also using this medium to commiserate with the people and government of Oyo state, especially the people of Lanlate over the demise of Honourable Michael Adeyemo. We are saddened by this unfortunate incidence and we pray to God to give his immediate family, Lanlate people and the entire people of Oyo state fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.”
“We are also using this medium to appeal to the Governor of Oyo state, Senator Abiola Ajimobi to continue to give Lanlate and Ibarapa people their dues politically. Most roads in Ibarapa are in bad shape and we are appealing to Governor Ajimobi to do something urgent about this and also look into other areas that require the attention of the State government in Ibarapa”.