Omala Local Government Area in Kogi East Senatorial District in the last four years has been a battle field of Fulani herders who were emboldened by the Kogi State anachronistic policy of ‘cattle colony’ against the indegenes who are predominantly peasant farmers.
At the advent of cattle colony policy of Alhaji Yahaya Bello in obvious placation of the powers that be in a build-up to the 2019, governorship election, Bello did officially earmark Omala and Dekina Local Government Areas in Kogi East as suitable for cattle ranching, hence, he authorised cattle herders to graze in those areas while Administrators of the affected areas were detailed to cooperate.
Local Government Administrators as they were called that time in their desperate moves to return to office, would do anything, including constituting security threat and betrayal of their own people, if only their subterranean antics would please the governor; it matters not.
The complicity of government officials in attacks on some villages in Omala Local Government Area in the last four years was obvious that each time there was herders’ attack with human and property casualties, the local government administrator who is now Special Adviser on Security would heap blames on the youth as being the brain behind the crisis.
This is no wonder that in the last four years, there have been ceaseless spontaneous attacks. Neither the local government nor the State government rose in condemnation. It is worrisome, too, that security would only be deployed after the media becomes critical of the lacklustre posture of the state government.
The conspiracy of the State government might not be unconnected with insinuations that Yahaya Bello’s cows were part of cows killed in a reprisal attack by the youths after the Deputy Chairman of Omala Local Government vigilante group was hacked to death in a scuffle with Fulani herdsmen on his farm at Udaba Omala sometime in March, 2018.
Though, there have been attacks before the last four years, attackers have nonetheless taken advantage of government’s support to unleash terror at will.
Records of attacks are also prevalent in Dekina Local Government which shares same border with Omala Local government. In Kogi West Senatorial District, no day passed without herders’ attack.
Here are records of attacks with some not captured, anyway.
1. On 16/3/2018 – villages in Dekina LG was attacked with 32 persons killed;
2. On 19/3/2018 – Fulani herdsmen attacked and burned Agbenema which Onu Agbenema was killed with several houses raged.
3. On 16th May, 2018, with 10 people killed.
4. On 28/3/2019, 3 farmers were killed in herders invasion of Bagana, after which the residents deserted for months.
5. There was attacks on Iyade in 2018 that half of the community was almost wiped out and so many other attacks.
Agreed, that attack on Agbenema community on 19th March, 2018 was vindictive, invective and politically motivated as a young man, an indigene, alledgedly pointed houses of those not in support of APC to be burnt.
Three years after the incident, the informant has not returned home.
When there was huge public outcry over the consequences that would happen for inviting Fulani herders officially into Kogi State, Bello’s defence was that he wants to make Kogi State, a hub for milk production. It’s wasn’t long afterwards, violence involving Fulani herdsmen began to happen all over the state.
In the last one month, there have been rumours of imminent invasion of villages, viz: Ajodoma, Ofejiji, Agbenema, Agabifo, Ajejima, Ajichekpa, Opada, Obakume, Okpotala, Odumukpo and other surrounding villages.
Residents of these villages have been living in fear; on daily basis, they are either deserting their homes, or lives to see when the marauders would come. The situation is so bad that they could no longer go to farms for fear of being killed.
Last week, true to insinuations, the blood sucking Fulani herders killed one person at Ajodoma; this is without provocation of any sort.
On Friday 9th April, 2020, a woman who was identified as Mama Ejima was shot while on her way from farm at Agbenema, headquarters of Opada/Ofejiji ward.
There’s also a report of sporadic shootings by Fulani herders between Ajichekpa and Opada, a kilometre to Abejukolo on 7th April, 2020, and as I write, there is looming invasion by herders, hence, residents of the affected communities are on the run.
Those who were killed have been buried.
What is provoking here is, the response and the irresponsibility of Yahaya Bello led Kogi State government and the Special Adviser to the governor on Security in Omala, Yakubu Aboh.
Aboh, by his mandate, is expected to go the whole hog in securing lives and properties of the people. Unfortunately, therefore, he behaves docile or feigned ignorance to information of looming danger in the local government. When the people were running helter, skelter, he did nothing in terms of brokering peace; or even trying to project peace that is most needed at a time like this.
Painfully, some oafs and gallots have posting nauseating defences of government, heaping blames on the youth in Omala.
One of the Fulani’s major defender has been alledging that, “Omala youth first attacked Fulani herders and killed their cows before they started killing the people.”
Questions for Fulani vassals who have taken to cyberspace to justify the sieze on villages and maiming of vulnerable innocent souls are:
1. Are those killed so far the people that killed Fulani’s cows?
2. Were there evidences of cows killed before Fulani herdsmen started killing the people; I don’t mean cows killed after Fulani first killed the people.
3. Are they aware that it has become a recurring decimal that between March and April of every year, Fulani must unleash violence on villages in Omala local government.
5. Are they aware that security of lives and property is a statutory responsibility of government as enshrined in the constitution and not an honour done to citizens if they were so protected.
6. To those posting defences on Facebook should be aware that human life is sacred and it’s a sacrilege to kill human beings and since you value what is giving you to defend killing than the blood being shed.
Well, one is reminded that since Kogi’s State governor, Yahaya Bello in desperate attempt to align with powers at Abuja openly invited Fulani herders to the state in the guise of ‘establishing cattle colony’, Omala has become the worst hit.
Since four years ago till now, there have been several violence with heavy human casualties, the governor has never visited the scene to console with the people, suggesting that some of the crisis were government propelled for political reasons.
Atekojo Samson Usman writes from Abuja
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