Herdsmen attacks on unprotected farmlands in villages scattered across Nigeria, from the north to the south and the West to the East of the country, yet there has been no let down even as several thousand defenseless Nigerians have met their untimely and gruesome deaths in the hands of the marauding herdsmen from the core north.
Rather, the herdsmen appeared to be emboldened by the inability of the nation’s security forces, including the Nigerian Police Force to prosecute and bring culprits to book, as such the perpetrators have upped their game to include kidnapping.
Arguably the worst and most victims of herdsmen vicious killings are found in the north central. According to Wikipedia, “Sedentary farming rural communities are often (the) target of attacks because of their vulnerability. There are fears that this conflict would spread to other West African countries but this has often been down played by governments in the region.”
The attacks have become a regular occurrence so much that, local Nigerian and foreign media have lost count even as they rely on figures provided by the Global Terrorism Index, which stated that these conflicts resulted in over 800 deaths by 2015.
But several more has occurred afterwards. The incidents included in Agatu, Benue and Nimbo, Enugu States. Also in April 2018 Fulani gunmen allegedly killed 19 people during an attack on a church, afterwards they burnt dozens of nearby homes.
In June 2018, over 200 people were killed and 50 houses were burnt in clashes between farmers and Fulani cattle herders in Plateau State. Likewise in October 2018, Fulani herdsmen killed at least 19 people in Bassa and on 16 December 2018.
In yet another instance, militants believed to be Fulani Herdsmen attacked a village in Jema’a, killing 15 people and injuring at least 24 others, the attack occurred at a wedding ceremony. On 11 February 2019, an attack on an Adara settlement named Ungwar Bardi by suspected Fulani gunmen killed 11.
Reprisal attack by Adara targeted settlements of the Fulani killing at least 141 people with 65 missing. The attacks took place in Kajuru LGA of Kaduna State. According to a governor the motive was to destroy specific communities.
However, other parts of the country have also continued to suffer the same fate if not worse. Among the high profile victims of the herdsmen menace was a daughter of Afenifere leader, Reuben Fadoranti, Mrs. Funke Olakunrin.
While giving details of how Mrs Olakunrinwas killed in a botched kidnap bid by Fulani herdsmen, the police in Ondo State, through its spokesman, Femi Joseph, said the incident occurred between Kajola and Ore towns along Ondo-Ore road on Friday.
Joseph said, “It happened at a spot between Kajola and Ore, where some hoodlums numbering about 15, attacked two vehicles, 1 Toyota Land Cruiser and 1 Camry,” Mr Joseph told PREMIUM TIMES.
“The Land Cruiser was carrying five passengers, including the deceased, which we later identified as one Funke Olakunrin. They shot the woman, we rushed her to the hospital, but we lost her. Other four occupants that were abducted, we have rescued them.
“Inside the Camry too, we had three occupants, they were also abducted, but we have rescued them. We have rescued a total of seven persons taken during the attack,” he said.
Though the police spokesman said he would not confirm if the attackers were Fulani herdsmen, noting that until an arrest was made, it would be difficult to identify the persons and where they came from; Afenifere’s spokesperson, Yinka Odumakin, had told PREMIUM TIMES that “Mrs FunkeOlakunrin, based on accounts of eyewitnesses, was killed by Fulani herdsmen who emerged from the bush, shot her and killed her in the process.”
Mr Odumakin said Mrs Olakunrin was travelling from Akure to Ore when her vehicle was attacked alongside others.
It will be recalled that Afenifere is at the forefront of the campaign against the building of cattle settlement for herdsmen across the country and earlier promoted by the federal government.
Arguably the highest victim was a former finance minister, Olu Falae. Chief Falae, who was a former presidential candidate of the Alliance for Democracy said he was kidnapped by six Fulani herdsmen, adding that the armed hoodlums threatened to kill him every 30 minutes until they received information that money had been given to them as demanded.
“There were six of them with three or four guns and every half an hour or so they will say, ‘Baba we are going to kill you, if you don’t give us money we are going to kill you,” Mr. Falae narrated.
“On Wednesday, one of them came and said ‘look we are going to leave here on Thursday morning. Since we cannot leave you here alone, if we don’t get what we want we are going to kill you.”
Giving details on how he was kidnapped, he said: “When the hoodlums came, they slashed me with their cutlasses, they said I was not cooperating. And they dragged me barefooted into the bush.
“After dragging me around for about two hours, they stopped somewhere for us to rest and there they asked me to phone my wife and tell her that I have been kidnapped and taken out of Ondo State by car which was a lie.
Unlike Chief Falae, there have been countless other cases involving lesser known Nigerians even as many of them have had their farm lands destroyed and either killed or threatened for daring to defend their properties from being turned to grazing areas by the marauding herdsmen.
The case of Elvis Omorodion Evbade was one. He had bought a parcel of land in Iguobazowa, located in Ovia South West Local Government, in Edo State.
Not long after, Fulani Herdsmen encroached on his farm and in a bid to stop them from grazing on his land they reportedly boasted that they would do whatever they wanted on the land and on any land wherever in Nigeria.
Findings revealed that, in February 2018, the farm was again attacked by the Fulani Herdsman. Evbade upon hearing the news rushed down to the farm and found that all his crops have been destroyed even as some of his workers were injured by the attackers.
According to reports by some of the farm workers, the group that attacked was the same group that faced off with Evbadewhen he objected to them grazing their cattle on his farm land.
The question being asked in some quarters particularly in Edo State today is “where is Elvis OmorodionEvbade”, what happened to him and his family?
Our source have it on good authority that Elvis Omorodion Evbade has not been seen nor heard from since his encounters with the herdsmen.
Many observers and analysts alike have condemned police handling of several cases of Fulani herdsmen and their continued destruction of farm lands and as well as killing, terrorizing and kidnapping of farm owners where the farmers dared put up any resistance.
The kidnapping of Chief Falae and the gruesome killing of Mrs Olakunri amongst others have so far gone unsolved by the security agents.
“The way the police have handled cases of farm destruction, kidnapping and killing of innocent farm owners across Nigeria has further emboldened the herdsmen so much that they feel like untouchables,” a public affairs analyst, Tony Ibikunle noted.
Also commenting on the incessant killings by the herdsmen, Bala Maiyaki, a Kaduna-State based legal practitioner argued that “by pushing for the establishment of grazing reserve across the country the federal government was in a way backing the herdsmen thus the haplessness of security agencies to put a final end to the incidents.
By Fola Olayanju
Olayanju is a Senior Staff Writer, Features and Special Reports. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org