Angry farmers, youths, and some local hunters in many communities in the country said they have decided to acquire weapons against unprovoked attacks by Fulani herdsmen, Punch reports.
This is coming after the mindless massacre that has taken place in different parts of the country with the government showing a non-challant attitude to stop the rampaging Fulani herdsmen. As a result, the communities involved have now decided to arm themselves with sophisticated weapons to avoid the wiping away of their people.
They have vowed to give it back to the Fulani herdsmen the only way they will understand – violence. The angry villagers believe they are acting in self-defence.
According to them, they will no longer sit down and watch the herdsmen attack them and destroy the sources of their livelihood.
They said they decided to resort to self-help because they had lost confidence in the security agencies’ ability to protect them against attacks.
The recent massacre of Enugu farmers by the Fulani herdsmen have made many communities in the country to wake up.
Fulani herders have recently killed hundreds in Benue, Plateau, Adamawa and Enugu states, among others, with many of the suspected killers not arrested for prosecution, despite the repeated promises by the government, especially the police, to stop the nefarious activities of the killer herders and bring them to justice.
Punch gathered that farmers in Osun State are no longer playing as many have acquired sophisticated weapons waiting for the Fulani herdsmen.
A farmer in Osun State, who spoke on condition of anonymity, revealed that they were prepared to “do battle with the herdsmen in case they extend their rampage to our state.”
A member of a vigilance group in the state, who simply gave his appellation as “D Keller,” also said that “nobody has the monopoly of violence.”
The Coordinator, Oodua People’s Congress in Osun State, Mr. Oyeyinka Awoyemi, said the problem posed by herdsmen had got to a level where it should be urgently addressed by the government.
Awoyemi said members of the OPC would no longer watch Fulani herdsmen destroy property and kill Yoruba people in their domains.
He said, “We cannot continue to keep quiet in the face of these mindless attacks. We will never allow them to drive us out of our land. We have given them general warnings and anywhere Fulani herdsmen kill a Yoruba man, deity will fight there. I will not say more than that.
“Can any Yoruba kill Fulani in their domain? We will not allow that to happen again. The Yoruba will fight for themselves.”
It is the same story in Oyo State. Farmers in Otu, Igbojaye, Komu, Alapamefa, Okaka, Saki, Iseyin and others in Oke-Ogun area of the state face constant threat by the Fulani herdsmen. Some of the farmers said the herdsmen grazed on their farms, raped women and girls, as well as stole their harvest.
The story is the same in Lagun, Iyana-Offa, Atagba, Lapata and surrounding villages in Lagelu Local Government Area where about 40 herdsmen were said to have invaded three weeks ago, injured a guard and stole foodstuffs and N500, 000 cash.
The angry farmers have decided to arm themselves since security operatives seem to be in support of the herdsmen as they allow them to attack communities without freely.
One of the hunters in Komu, who did not give his name, said blacksmiths had been be contacted to assist in producing more guns to confront the herdsmen if they invaded their farmlands again.
He said, “We are ready to fight if we are pushed to doing so because we are not cowards. The Oluode (head of the hunters) will not hesitate to give members the go-ahead to attack any herdsman that grazes on farms and threaten to attack farmers.
“We will no longer tolerate their violent activities if the police or the government is not doing enough to stop it.”
Asked who would fund the production of the guns, the hunter said, “I will not reveal where the funding will come from, but we are all involved in this and no contribution is too small.”
Farmers in Ondo State said they were ready to defend themselves should the Federal Government fail to contain the incessant criminal activities of the Fulani herdsmen against them.
A member of the vigilance group in Akure North Local Government Area, who identified himself as Saheed, said members of the group were ready to pay the herdsmen in their own coin, should they invade the state like they did before.
He said, “I will not reveal how we are going to deal with them, but we are vigilant and we won’t expose our tactics.”
Youths in Ekiti State have also formed an alliance against likely attack by herders.
The Ekiti State Chairman, National Youth Council of Nigeria, Mr. Adedamola Gbenga, said the council met with other youth associations during the week and resolved to form a force to repel any attack by the herdsmen in the state.
Gbenga said, “We are also meeting with our chapters across the 16 local government areas on the need to stop this evil against humanity and for them to be their brothers’ keeper.”
A source in the state, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the fear of being arrested, said, “The Fulani herders should know that no one has the monopoly of violence.
“If they are quick to kill farmers and destroy their farms, we will tell them they cannot do that in Ekiti State. They will find their match if they attack our people because they are not the only ones who have access to AK47 and other dangerous weapons.”
Farmers in Enugu State are also set to match the marauding herdsmen force with force if they tried anything funny.
In Uratta, Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State, the Public Relations Officer of Ugwumba Age Grade, Mr. Kingsley Asonye, said, “For fear of unknown, we are gathering weapon with which to repel any attack by herdsmen.”
The Uzonwanne Farmers Association in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of the state said the group had been vigilant owing to the recent attack by herdsmen in Enugu.
The association’s chairman, Mr. Iherdure Echi, said the group had been gathering machetes and other weapons to repel likely attack.
He said, “It is unfortunate that victims in Enugu State were struck in the wee hours. It is sequel to that we are ever vigilant. We have also been taking a close watch on the herdsmen.”
It seems like Nigerians are waking up as they can no longer tolerate the excuses given by security operatives who allow the herdsmen act like they are untouchable. Maybe, this time around, knowing that the villagers won’t allow them go scot-free, they will stop the incessant massacre. The battle line has been drawn.