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Igangan: Indigenes still count losses two years after Fulani eviction

Two years after the widely reported invasion of the Fulani settlement in Igangan, Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State by the self-acclaimed freedom…

Two years after the widely reported invasion of the Fulani settlement in Igangan, Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State by the self-acclaimed freedom fighter, Sunday Adeyemo popularly known as Sunday Igboho, several questions remain unanswered.  

Igangan caught the attention of the nation following the eviction of the Sarkin Fulani and his family from his settlement. This was after a week’s ultimatum was given to the Fulani to vacate area.  

Igboho, who initially stormed the Sarkin Fulani settlement with his men, had accused the Fulani leaders of being behind series of kidnapping incidents, killings and insecurity in the area.  

He was hailed by members of the community for standing up against the Fulani accused of unleashing terror on the people, and instantly transformed into a hero of sorts in Yorubaland who came to free his “oppressed” people.  

After the expiration of the deadline, Sunday Igboho ejected the Sarkin Fulani and his family from the palace and razed down the ardo’s cars and other properties.  

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According to the evicted Fulani leader, Alhaji Saliu AbdulKadir, no fewer than seven people were killed during the invasion.  He is therefore asking the federal government to probe the burning of his house, vehicles and the killing of Fulani, adding that he lost property worth N500 million following the attack.  

“My houses, 12 vehicles belonging to myself, my children and some visitors were burnt and seven of our people were killed and some of my animals were carted away.  

“I and my family have been living in Igangan for over 50 years without issues with anybody either in Igangan or other places,” AbdulKadir said.  

After the incident, the Sarkin Fulani relocated to Ilorin, Kwara State with members of his family who survived the attack.  

Daily Trust reports that prior to the invasion of the Fulani settlements, there were several cases of farmers-herders’ confrontations. At some point, the Fulani cried out that the farmers planted poisonous substances on the grazing routes within the town which instantly killed any cow that consumed it.  

On several occasions, the evicted Sarkin said he had to intervene when issues of farmers-herders’ crisis arose to the extent of paying compensation to farmers whose farmlands were destroyed by cattle.  

But the dangerous dimension to the crisis was the issue of kidnapping and attacks allegedly linked to Fulani herders.  

The killing of Dr Fatai Aborode, a renowned farmer in the community, irked many members of the community who blamed herders for the crisis. However, the father of the deceased said the killing was politically motivated.  

In a BBC interview, Dr Aborode’s father, Lasisi Aborode, exonerated Sarkin Fulani for the murder of his son.  

“My son, Dr Fatai Adisa Aborode, was assassinated on his way from his farm. He was killed on politics basis. The information we gathered was that when they were coming, four assassins were waiting for him. When they got to the spot where he was assassinated, the four of them wore masks. They were with guns and they said they were there to take his life. They started shooting at him. He didn’t die immediately. He died on his way to the hospital.   

“What I know is that those assassins were hired. Fulani were there, Yoruba were there. They were hired by politicians,” he told BBC Yoruba.  

For the evicted Fulani leader, this evidence was enough to exonerate him and prove his innocence on the various attacks in the community which eventually led to his eviction.   

However, for the Igangan people, life has not remained the same since the eviction of the Fulani. This is reflected in the declining economic activities in the village. Our correspondent also gathered that many indigenes of Igangan have relocated from the community as commercial activities have dipped so drastically.  

When our correspondent visited the community recently, it was discovered that many residents are yet to come to terms with the reality that the Fulani community is no longer around them. Those who spoke to Daily Trust  recollected, with nostalgia, the friendship, camaraderie and economic ties they had built over the decades with members of the Fulani community.  

Findings by our correspondent showed that the Fulani settlement is now being used by some members of the community for farming. The nomadic school razed during the Sunday Igboho invasion remains abandoned while a barracks has been built close to the settlement known as Gaa Seriki.  

Many indigenes of the community refrained from making comments about the incident when they were approached by our correspondent because of the fear of a backlash that their comments could generate among the leaders of the community.  

However, one of the indigenes, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said the community is unhappy with the exit of the Fulani as it has affected commercial activities, adding that many people have relocated. Those who borrowed money to do business are no longer making sales. Just about two weeks ago, I know two people who relocated to Shaki.  

“Also, as farmers we are not really doing well because we also depend on the cattle of these herdsmen to clear the remnants on our farmlands. But since there are really no cows now, we spend a lot clearing. Even the problems of kidnapping that Sunday Igboho talked about at the time are still happening. We are not happy that the Fulani have left, we have a problem with that.”  

‘Allow Fulani to move around’  

The indigene, who simply identified himself as Ade, called on the authorities to allow the movement of the herders even if they are not yet welcomed back in the community, saying this would boost commercial activities which are at their lowest ebb in the last two years.  

“I am an indigene of Igangan and I am a stakeholder here. We are appealing to the government to allow Fulani access to this place. We even met the chairman of the local government and the police authorities in Ibarapa North Local Government on the same issue. We emphasised that there should be freedom of movement for the herders as the constitution guarantees.  

“We plead with you journalists to assist us in this regard. Let the Fulani people come back, they are Nigerians and we can also checkmate them in the community with the local hunters and vigilantes that we have across Igangan and its environs.”  

We are yet to be compensated for our losses – Sarki Salisu  

Speaking at his house in Ilorin, Kwara State, Sarki Salisu said he was still not happy with the way he was treated for no just reason.  

He said two years after his palace was razed, nobody has been held responsible for the destruction and their losses estimated to be over N500m. “These were properties I worked hard to acquire over 50 years of my sojourn in Igangan. No evidence was found to conclude that the attacks in Igangan were caused by me as the Fulani leader or that I supported any of my people to commit crime,” Sarki Saliu said.  

He said several letters to the state governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, and the federal government seeking compensation for the losses incurred during the attacks were not responded to while the promises made especially by the state governor have not been fulfilled.  

“The government has failed to do anything. We were punished unjustly and the truth has been revealed.   

“We have no regret sending Fulani away’  

However, the chairman of Igangan Community Council, Mr Segun Okedeji said there is peace in the community since the January 2021 event.  “Nothing has happened. We are living in peace. There is no trouble again and everybody is going about with his normal business,” he told our correspondent in a telephone interview.