There is tension in the Ketu-speaking villages in the Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State after soldiers escorted herdsmen to graze in the communities, and brutalised some residents in defence of the herders.
The soldiers’ action has forced traditional rulers and monarchs in the affected communities to write a save-our-soul petition to the Nigerian Army authorities demanding protection from the harassment of soldiers and herdsmen.
According to The Nation, one of the victims is Seye Mulero, who was severely injured in Ubeku village in Yewa North and is currently receiving medical treatment.
The herdsmen, who had left the village after the villagers rejected their continued presence, suddenly resurfaced at about 2 pm on December 19, 2020, with a handful of soldiers from the 35 Artillery Brigade, Alamala, Abeokuta.
The soldiers headed straight for the palace of the community’s traditional ruler, Chief Olaleye Adigun, calling out the villagers and warning them against preventing the evicted herdsmen from returning to the village.
In the middle of this strange encounter, Mulero told the soldiers that the herders would not be allowed to remain in the community because of their brutal killing of residents and the destruction of their farmlands in recent times.
Mulero said, “Everyone was frightened by the action and utterances of the soldiers, but I summoned the courage to tell them how a Geography teacher Mr. Yomi Akinola and two students of Community High School, Ibeku, among others, were killed by the herdsmen while our women were raped and killed on their ways to the farm.”
But Mulero and Ubeku village were not the only person and area that tasted the bile of the soldiers who escorted the herdsmen in a military patrol van from one village to another. Innocent indigenes of Iselu, Ibeku, Agbon-Ojodu, Asa and other villages were also harassed and assaulted by the soldiers at the instance of the herdsmen.
After leaving Ubeku, the herders and the complicit soldiers moved to neighbouring Asa, where they reenacted the Ubeku scenario, causing the hapless villagers to panic.
At Asa, the herders sighted Mulero’s brother, Gabriel Mulero, accusing him of being among the crowd that jeered them after his brother was beaten up.
There and then, the soldiers seized the young man, giving him some deafening slaps and kicking him mercilessly before whisking him away to a neighbouring village, Agbon-Ojodu, where they dropped him off after elders of the community pleaded for his release.
Worried by the development, monarchs of the affected communities petitioned the Nigeria Army over alleged connivance of its men with herdsmen to assault and harass villagers.
The monarchs are the Oniggua of Iggualand, Oba Micheal Adeleye Dosumu; the Eselu of Iseluland, Oba Akintunde Ebenezer Akinyemi; and the Alademeso of Igan Alade, Oba Gabriel Olukunle Olalowo.
The petition titled ‘matter of urgency’ dated January 7, 2021, signed by their lawyer, Mr. Olaoluwa Folalu, was addressed to the Brigade Commander of 35 Artillery Brigade, Alamala, Abeokuta.