No fewer than four persons were killed over the weekend in Ute, a community in Ose Local Government area of Ondo State, in a ‘reprisal’ by armed Fulani herdsmen, FirstNews has gathered.
The herders reportedly felt hurt over persistent patrol of farmlands by the Southwest Security Corps, otherwise known as Amotekun, against encroachment by the Fulani’s herd of cows.
A local source said the herders had often complained that their cattle were growing lean and sometimes dying as they could no longer gain access to nourishing yams and cassava in farms belonging to residents of the host community.
“So unknown to us, they secretly contacted their armed colleagues from other parts of the country who invaded our community suddenly, carrying AK-47 guns, bows and arrows, and other dangerous weapons,” the source, who identified himself as Femi Adisa, disclosed.
Adisa added that the herdsmen demolished huts and set many houses ablaze, forcing the residents to race far into the bushes for dear life.
The battle, it was however gathered, became intense around Omolege Junction, where the rampaging Fulani warriors repelled Amotekun corps members who sought to challenge them.
As the dust settled, four men had lain dead while scores of others were reportedly on the throes of death.
In a reaction to the tragedy, an Ondo State pressure group, Sunshine Liberation Movement, berated the federal government for paying lip service to the protection of local farmers against incessant attacks from Fulani herdsmen.
Speaking with FirstNews, coordinator of the group and an indigene of Ute, Elder Dipo Ajidahun, said the police in Ondo State “suddenly become dumb and deaf anytime there is public outcry against Fulani herdsmen attack”.
“Why we cannot blame the state government as such is because the police are not answerable to the state government, they take instruction from the top and we all know the ‘top’ is not keen in stopping these killers because they are family members of ‘the main Oga at the top'”.
Ajidahun warned that his people would resort to self-help if the government is unwilling to assist them, stressing, “and when I say self-help, you can imagine the disaster that will befall these intruders”.
Meanwhile, the Ondo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has blamed the Ondo attack on the negligence of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in protecting lives and properties among defenceless rural dwellers.
In a statement issued through its state publicity secretary, Mr. Kennedy Peretei, the party said Akeredolu’s refusal to give necessary incentive to the military authorities led to the withdrawal of soldiers from all highways in Ondo State, thus giving hoodlums a free playing ground.
“Just yesterday, herdsmen invaded Omolege Junction ( the same area a first class monarch was murdered in cold blood), killed three and sacked the community.
“Can’t Akeredolu for once, for the sake of the people he governs, make peace with the Army High Command?
“Soldiers were withdrawn from checkpoints, simply because the governor refused to honour an agreement that had been operational before his administration.
“The Amotekun men who went to the Omolege raid were repelled.
“We all know Amotekun does not have the training to tackle the herdsmen, neither do they have the weapons to engage them,” the party appraised.
In the same vein, the party lamented that soldiers had also been pulled out of prisons, otherwise known as correctional centres, across the state, owing to the same ‘incentive stoppage saga’.
“Now, the soldiers withdrew from the Correctional Services’ facilities. The first person to shout was the governor, drawing attention of criminals to the fact that the places have become vulnerable,” the PDP condemned.