As Muslims celebrated the end of Ramadan fast yesterday, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Mohammad Sa’ad Abubakar urged the Federal Government to move against killer herdsmen across the country.
The royal father, in his Eid-el-Fitr message yesterday, noted that genuine herdsmen do not carry guns, but only go about with their cows, holding sticks. He acknowledged that there could be bad eggs among the Fulani, but insisted that those carrying arms and perpetrating heinous crimes are not herdsmen.
“They are criminals and they should be treated as such,” Sultan said. He therefore urged the government to urgently uncover the sources of their weapons and bring the full weight of the law to bear on all those implicated.
He praised the Federal Government for the progress so far recorded in the war against insurgency in the north-east but cautioned against complacency as the challenge is far from being over.
The sultan appealed to all Nigerians to see the issue of security as a collective responsibility and support the efforts of the security agencies to make the country more secure.He charged Muslims to continue to reflect and uphold the virtues learnt during the month-long Ramadan fast, including patience, perseverance and brotherliness. He appealed for continued fervent prayers for the ailing President Muhammadu Buhari, and the sustenance of peace, unity and progress of the country.
The Islamic leader spoke as residents of Ndokwa East Local Government Area of Delta State now live in constant fear for their lives following intermittent attacks on them by the Fulani herdsmen.
Since last weekend, one person has been killed and no fewer than three others got gunshot wounds inflicted on them by the herdsmen at Ulogwe farmland, Oloa-Ossissa. The victims include Emmanuel Isiekwene and Mike Orji.These incidents came weeks after the gruesome murder of about six persons by herdsmen on their farms at Ossissa. They forced the farmers to abandon their farms.
In the latest attacks, a father and his son were the first victims before others were waylaid and shot at by the herdsmen. While the son died instantly, the father was seriously injured and is currently receiving treatment in an un-disclosed location.
The development has made the farmers jittery and deserted their farmlands already destroyed by the invaders.One of the villagers and indigenes of Umudike-Ossissa, Stanley Isiekwene, said that after the recent killings that attracted Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to the community, the people expected that the area would be calm and wondered why the attacks by the herdsmen continued.
Also, farmers in Ondo State trooped out to protest against the killing of a colleague by Fulani herdsmen who often attack them and destroy their farmlands. The victim, Mr. Linus Ogheh, a farmer and indigene of Ebonyi State was killed last week at Ileyo Camp, an agrarian community near Igbatoro in Akure North Local Government Area.
It was learnt that suspected herdsmen, who were searching for their strayed cows following an exchange of gunshots with policemen drafted to the farm of the former Secretary to the Government of Federation (SGF), Chief Olu Falae, had killed Ogbeh.
The murder of the father of seven, Ogbeh, provoked a protest by the farmers, their wives, children and other stakeholders in the area, who gathered at Ileyo Camp to condemn the damage being caused by the grazing of animals in their area.
The protesters, armed with green leaves and placards with inscriptions condemning grazing on their farms and attendant damage to their crops, trooped out to the lonely road chanting anti-herdsmen slogans.
The Bale of Ileyo Igbatoro Camp, Chief Ogunleye Taiwo, told journalists in Akure yesterday that the majority of people living in the area were non-indigenes comprising Igbo, Agatu, Ebira and Langtang farmers.
“This man that was killed had been living here for over 30 years. Chief Falae’s farm is close to us here. Our people cannot go to farm again because of the fear that the herdsmen would attack them.
“This is the time we should be spraying our cocoa farm with chemicals, we cannot go to farm. This area is the food basket of Akure, the state capital but cattle enter our farms without restraint. We are tired of the menace of the herdsmen.
“The youths in the area had wanted to go and confront the herdsmen, we are the ones that have been restraining them because we know what that can cause,” he said.In his Eid-el-Fitr message yesterday, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo pledged the commitment of the Federal Government to doing everything to ensure the entrenchment and sustenance of the existing unity among Nigerians. He said this would boost development and enhance the welfare of the people.
Osinbajo spoke at his official residence at the Presidential Villa, also known as Aguda House, where he received the Muslim community who paid him homage on the occasion of the 2017 Eid-el-Fitr.Receiving the delegation on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Acting President said: “Your ethnicity doesn’t matter, and that is why for us, unity is so important that we must work together to make sure that our country is able to take care of the millions of people we govern. God expects us to take care of the poor and those suffering, to ensure that we use government resources only in such a way that will benefit the good of the majority of our people.”
Osinbajo re-echoed President Buhari’s sallah message to citizens, saying that the country must remain united. He enumerated the gains of unity to include love towards one another, integrity, enjoying the endowments of the nation, gaining respect globally and diversity, among others.
“Our unity is not negotiable. We should make sure that we remain united in order to enjoy the resources God has blessed Nigeria with. So many nations envy what we have as a nation,” he said.
The Acting President used the opportunity to pray for President Buhari’s quick recovery and return to Nigeria, adding that the president still has a lot to do for Nigeria.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello said paying Sallah homage was customary as a mark of respect for the president.He thanked the security agencies and religious and traditional rulers in the FCT for playing a great role in sustaining the peace being enjoyed in the nation’s capital city.
He said the kind of harmonious relationship they have exhibited needs to be replicated in the 36 states. The delegation commended the Acting President for guiding the country well in the absence of his principal.Present at the event was the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, some legislators and members of the Federal executive Council.
Besides, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, urged Nigerians to demonstrate a greater spirit of tolerance and firmer commitment to peaceful coexistence, which he described as the prerequisites for unity and love.
In his message, Atiku said: “Abstention from eating and drinking should go a long way to create empathy from the rich towards the poor, making the well to do appreciate the conditions of millions who go hungry because of poverty. “I urge well-to-do Muslims to identify with ordinary Nigerians who go without food almost every day, and to be more concerned about what to do to improve their plight.”