UPDATED: Herdsmen: Kwara warns against xenophobic attacks

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…Community worried over ‘invasion’ by herders

Kwara state government has cautioned residents of the state against launching xenophobic attacks on displaced persons in their midst.

It called for calm while government works with all stakeholders to maintain law and order.

Residents of Oro, Irepodun local government of the state had earlier accused neighbouring communities of Buari and Illala aiding the ‘invasion’ of farmland by herders in the area.

Secretary to the state government Prof Saba M. Jubril in a statement said: “Our state is known for peace, harmony, and hospitality to one another and all sojourners among us. Whatever the challenges at this time, we will not accept xenophobic violence or hate speeches that might ignite it.

“The government, which has been working with various stakeholders to carefully handle the influx of displaced Fulani herders into the state, is concerned at and accordingly rejects a purported quit notice issued to vulnerable persons who are scampering for refuge in parts of the state. We caution against belligerency of any kind. Kwara is historically renowned to be a peaceful multiethnic state and traditional home of Yorubas, Fulanis, Nupes, Barubas, Bokobarus, Hausas and many others who have lived harmoniously since time immemorial. These great tribes have intermarried and formed family bonds spanning centuries.

“We feel strongly that what the country requires at this time is its people solemnly coming together to heal old wounds and to live together as brothers. Fanning the ember of disunity and violence is dangerous.

“The government urges everyone to live in and work for peace. Everything is being done at the state and federal levels to resolve security issues. The government, therefore, needs everyone to avoid anything that could heighten tension or spark off violence.”

The community said that it discovered late last month that a section of Okerimi Oro land had been invaded and occupied by evicted herdsmen from Oyo state.

The community members added that the invasion sent fears down the spine of many residents as the sites the herders are currently occupying is part of Koshoni-Ola Farmland in Okerimi Oro.

In a statement National President, Oro Descendants Union and Publicity Secretary Alhaji Uthman Balogun and Kayode Oyeyipo accused the traditional rulers of both Buari and Allala of signed settlement accord with herders.

The statement reads: “It was discovered last week that Baale (traditional head) of Buari, neighbouring community to Okerimi Oro, with the support of Aala of Ilala (traditional ruler) connived with Bororo/Fulani, purportedly signing agreement to have them settled on their land but discreetly and deceitfully brought them to Okerimi Oro land.

The signed document had with the Aala of Ilala and Baale of Buari, the signatures of nine leaders of Bororo/Fulani, Seriki Fulani in Ajase-Ipo and Chairman of Miyetti Allah in Irepodun Local Government Area. The peace pact was witnessed by some heads of security agents.

“Everything was without our knowledge; we are not a party to it and we can’t be a party to any of such arrangements. Our people are vehemently against the occupation.

They had long kicked against it. Now, the pertinent questions to ask are: What right do the two community leaders have to bring herdsmen to sojourn on Okerimi-Oro land? Why can’t they settle them on their own land? Is Kosoni-Ola Farm in Buhari or Ilala?

“Their act is disheartening and disgusting. Can a house owner collect rent from anyone and direct the person to another man’s house to be received as a tenant after signing tenancy agreement with him (i.e. the payer)? Buari and Ilala are not part of Oro. In fact, it is a slap on our face for them to bring strangers to our land for them to come and occupy it. It must be said that Okerimi Oro had given more than enough concession to Buari, years past, in settling boundary matters amicably for peace and development to thrive. Why are the people coming up with unwholesome moves at this time?”

“We now implore Buari and Ilala to come and relocate Bororo/Fulani to their own land, which must be far away from our vicinity. And this must be done on or before the expiration of seven (7) days counting from February 16, 2021,” the statement added.

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