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A month after Oyo Fulani eviction: Sarkin Fulani, Asigangan of Igangan quibble over compensation

Since the events of January 23 in Igangan, Oyo State, when Sunday Igboho led a mob to attack a Fulani community, killing several persons and…

Since the events of January 23 in Igangan, Oyo State, when Sunday Igboho led a mob to attack a Fulani community, killing several persons and destroying property belonging to the herders, the Sarkin Fulani insists the attacks were not justified as he and his people are innocent.

But the Asiganga of Iganga insists the Fulani cannot ask for any compensation.

Until a month ago, Alhaji Salihu Abdulkadir lived like a king. He had his houses, cars and herds of cattle in Igangan, Ibarapa Area of Oyo State.

He had lived there for 50 years and made his fortune trading in his herds. Today, he is struggling to feed his family.

Alhaji Salihu is the Sarkin Fulani of Oyo State. A lot of attention has recently been turned on his ethnic group, the Fulani, many of whom have indulged in violent crimes in the country that has created tensions among Nigeria’s tribal fault lines.

Following the killing of a popular Yoruba farmer and the abduction of another personality, which were blamed on ‘Fulani herdsmen’ the agitation to evict the Fulani from Yoruba land gained momentum.

It was championed by Yoruba agitator, Sunday Adeyemo (Igboho), who sometime in January issued a one-week ultimatum to the Fulani to leave the South West.

When the period elapsed, on January 23, Igboho’s supporters struck, their anger unleashed on the leader of the Fulani in the area.

This was how Alhaji Salihu was evicted from his home of five decades and lost everything he had ever possessed, losses he estimated to be in the region of N500m.

“I am now living from hand to mouth,” he said at his new base in Ilorin. “My family is suffering. I have many children to cater for.”

Denied allegations

It has been over a month since the incident which he describes as an unjust eviction because it was based on allegations of complicity in a series of kidnapping incidents in the area. These allegations he has denied.

The foremost Fulani leader who is also the President of Jamu Nati Fulbe, a Fulani socio-cultural organization in the South-West, said he lost his brother during the attack alongside over 200 cows, cars and houses that were torched by the mob.

Now he said he is waiting for justice to take its course.

Igboho had accused the Fulani leader of being behind the murder of a popular farmer and indigene of Ibarapa, Dr Fatai Aborode.

“Sunday Igboho said I had a hand in the kidnap and killing of Dr Aborode but those who killed Aborode have been arrested. They are not Fulani but Yoruba. This was announced on Radio recently. His farm manager has been arrested and we heard his father saying his killing had a political undertone,” he said.

He has also been accused of having a hand in the kidnap of one Alhaja Subawah, which he also denied.

“The police have arrested two kidnappers who are also of Yoruba stock identified as Tiamiyu Isah and Rasak Ramoni,” he said.

He believes the arrest of the suspects who have nothing to do with him and happen not to be Fulani is evidence enough that the allegations against him were false.

Unjust punishment

However, the Asigangan of Igangan land, Oba Adewuyi Olaoye in a chat with Daily Trust dismissed the claim of the evicted Fulani leader.

“Nobody punished him unjustly. It is the community that decided to eject him based on his antecedent,” he said. “The five people arrested [in connection to the murder of] Abororde were all Fulani people. I don’t know the numbers of Fulani arrested in connection with the businesswoman but I know many of them are Fulani.”

The Fulani leader however insists on his innocence saying he has no hand in the insecurity in the area and that he had consistently exposed criminals among the Fulani in the area.

He also insists he was unjustly punished and called on the Federal Government and Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, to come to his aid.

“In fact, I don’t have clothes to wear, I have been wearing the same clothes since the incident,” he said. “It has been extremely difficult catering for my family. I have nothing anymore.

“I want the government to come to my aid. I should not be punished unjustly for offences I have no hand in.

“Having been exonerated. Is it not proper to compensate me for the huge losses I have suffered? I have written many letters to the state government and the Federal Government, I am yet to get any response. I must not be punished unjustly. I demand justice and those who attacked my settlement must be brought to book.”

The Oba however scoffs at the Sarki’s appeal for compensation.

“Who is expected to compensate him? Is it the same community threatened by the activities of herdsmen? I don’t think our people will like to hear that,” the Oba said.

Both Fulani and Yoruba groups have waded into the debate. One of them is the Yoruba Welfare Group (YWG), a socio-cultural organization,  which warned against giving ethnic colouration to the issue of insecurity in the country.

The remains of Sarki’s burnt palace
The remains of Sarki’s burnt palace

The group said criminals should be treated as criminals instead of ascribing crimes to any ethnic group.

The National President of the group, Comrade Abdulhakeem Adegoke-Alawuje said, “We cannot begin to see Hausa-Fulanis or Igbos as our enemies. If there are misunderstandings, we can settle them, just as the YWG did with the peacebuilding and reconciliatory moves to reconcile the feuding tribes in the Shasa community in Ibadan.

“Criminals should be seen as enemies of the entire nation and be treated as criminals, but not by ascribing the crimes of some unscrupulous individuals to any particular ethnic or religious group.”

A Fulani Community of Kwara State said they had set up a screening and monitoring committee that will screen the Fulani people relocating to Kwara State from neighbouring states to flush out criminally-minded persons among them.

They also demanded compensation for their kinsmen from Igangan and asked the Federal Government to investigate the attack, arrest and prosecute those responsible.

They also asked that other Fulani settlements in the South-West that have suffered attacks should be compensated.

Poor handling

In a communique issued at the end of the meeting of the Joint Fulani Associations in Kwara State, they said the attacks on the Fulani settlement was poorly handled by the state governor, Seyi Makinde.

“We have discovered that all the allegations levelled against Sarkin Fulani of Igangan are false. Both the federal and Oyo State governments should compensate Sarki for his properties that were destroyed when Sunday Igboho stormed his settlement,” the communique jointly signed by Alhaji Sule Alfulani Bube, chairman, and Alhaji Magaji Salihu Ahmed, secretary, said.

“We call on the government to come to the aid of the displaced Fulani people from the South-West while thanking both the federal and Kwara State governments for the relief items made available to the Fulani community but we still need more,” he said.

With the constant back and forth, Alhaji Salihu Abdulkadir who once lived like a king in Igangan is now holed up in Ilorin,  scrounging to feed his family while waiting for his compensation for himself and his displaced people.

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