The Seriki Fulani of Igangan, Oyo State, Salihu Abdulkadir, who was evicted from his base some weeks ago has said there is no way farmers and herders will not clash as cows must eat grass.
He, however, said there should be some sort of compensation for affected farmers.
“Cows must eat grass; that’s certain. But the public notion towards Fulani as kidnappers is wrong and I would never agree or succumb to that because it is a false allegation against all of us, Fulani,” he told Punch.
When asked if that was enough justification for farms to be destroyed by cattle, Abdulkadir said, “No, but there is no way that farmers and herdsmen would not cross each other. For instance, a driver would not pray for an accident but it is certain it would eventually happen. It is the same for cow and open grazing. It happens and it’s sort of a mistake.”
He, however, described any herder whose cattle ate farm crops and refused to compensate the farm owner as senseless, condemning such herders.
“Anyone whose cows eat farm crops and does not compensate the owner of the farm is senseless. If it’s a deliberate act, it is wrong. Let’s look at it, how many farms can cows eat from that would feed or satisfy them? Cows are never satisfied, it’s not possible.
“However, I have assisted many farmers to get compensation for the destruction of their farms by cows. There was no case of farm destruction reported to me that I didn’t send people to go and investigate the destruction of the farms and whenever we established that it was true, I would order the Fulani to pay money to the farmer. An example was the case of the Agoro family in Igangan and many more. I have a record of issues affecting the farmers.”
Speaking further, the Seriki Fulani said the Yoruba and the Fulani in Igangan were living together peacefully until the recent allegations of kidnappings levelled against his people.
Faulting the allegations, Abdulkadir said the kidnappers were actually of Yoruba extraction, noting that some Fulani have been victims of such.
“We were living in harmony. I don’t know what caused the present strain in our relationship; it is not clear to me. But what I noticed is that the Ibarapa people suddenly didn’t want to see Fulani people around again. There was no quarrel between us; but I observed recently there were allegations that Fulani people were behind the kidnapping of the people in the area, which is a lie.
“From my findings, the people in Igangan were behind most of the kidnappings in the area. The indigenes were responsible for the kidnapping of the people and it came to a point that some of the victims were escaping from them. They then resorted to keeping the victims in their homes while negotiating for ransom with victims’ relations. I then made efforts to report them to the police both in Ibarapa and at the police headquarters in Ibadan.
“There was one incident in which a Fulani man was abducted. We arranged for several vigilantes who discovered the house where the man was kept. Eight suspects were arrested in connection with the crime through police investigation. Out of the eight suspects, six are still in the police custody. One of them escaped but was rearrested. He is still with the police; he has not been taken to court. Four of those arrested are detained at Agodi Prison as I speak with you.”
The Seriki Fulani dismissed all claims that he was a kingpin to Fulani kidnappers in Ibarapa. He said the abduction is as a result of collaborations between Fulani and the Yoruba people in the area.
“There is nothing like that. I have been the person reporting cases of kidnapping of both Yoruba and Fulani victims in the area. The records are there with the police, both in Eruwa and Ibadan. People should take the pain to find out. How can I be a godfather to the kidnappers?
“The majority of kidnapped victims in Ibarapa were Fulani people and if I count them, they are up to 24. On the other hand, the number of Yoruba that were kidnapped in Igangan cannot even be up to four.”