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How Armed Herdsmen Brutalise Farmers In Kwara Community, Plot To Take Over Land

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How Armed Herdsmen Brutalise Farmers In Kwara Community, Plot To Take Over Land

When he saw me covered in blood, he shouted, saying I should have gone to the hospital

Ilorin, Kwara State– A 46-year-old farmer from Owode-Oko-Gbo in the Ifelodun Local Government Area of Kwara State, Owolarefe Gbenga, was attacked by Fulani herdsmen who assaulted him with a machete and threatened to seize their ancestral land.

Fulani Herdsmen Claimed Ownership Of Yoruba Ancestral Land

“He said many of them were out of town, so one of their family members, Issa Muhammed, who resided at home, temporarily offered them their family land for the Fulani to raise their cows for grazing when they sought his assistance.”

According to Mr. Gbenga, “My father, Elder Mathew Aremu Owolarafe, was the Bale of the town, and when the Fulani arrived, they settled in our town without our knowledge. It was Mr. Issa Muhammed who provided a place for them to settle down.”

He besieged and took over their ancestral land since no one was at home to challenge them. However, he returned home to settle down after the 2019 election.

Mr. Gbenga stated, to his greater surprise, that the Fulani herdsmen had taken over their ancestral land and claimed ownership. He mentioned that they prevented him from farming on the land that belonged to his family. however, Mr. Issa, who had previously rendered them assistance, passed away last year.

Before his death, he clearly stated to the Fulani herdsmen that he had never accepted any money from them. He informed them that when the rightful landowners returned to reclaim their land, they would have no choice but to vacate it, and they all agreed.

“When the famine started, my brothers called me and expressed their desire to start farming, given that I reside at home. Consequently, I enlisted the help of some local labourers to clear the bush. However, while they were in the process of clearing the bush, the Fulani residents of our community intervened and instructed them to leave immediately.”

Mr. Gbenga explained that the following day, he went to the land with three labourers to continue the work. He said he saw the same Fulani herdsmen regrouping while parading the place, but he kept working since they did not move closer to him.

“I sent my wife home to fetch something for me. She informed me that upon arriving home, she encountered some Fulani herdsmen with my dad, engaged in a discussion about a piece of land. He told them he would get back to them.”

He explained that when he got home, his dad narrated to him what the Fulani herdsmen had come to explain. He told his dad that they instructed him to demand any amount and to vacate the land he planned to farm on, as they also intended to use it for farming.

Mr. Gbenga Macheted Over Land Dispute

Mr. Gbenga told Afrika Eyes that on Monday, March 18, 2024, it was around 10 p.m. when he heard a dog barking and went out to see what had happened. Suddenly, he saw four people coming toward his side, and one of them greeted him.

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He said it was already late and time to listen to the news at 10 p.m. when the four Fulani herdsmen in his community came to his house for a meeting. He told them that it was late and they should come the following day at daybreak.

He identified the ringleader as Umara, while the other three are Momoh, Baba Shege, and Baba Magaji.

“I was fasting on that particular day. They insisted on having a meeting with me, but I declined and told them that I had never seen people gather at night to discuss land matters.

After a while, I thought they had left because I had left them outside to power my generator so I could listen to the news, and closed the entrance door. We were inside the house when I heard a goat mourning. As I stepped out to see what was happening, I saw their ringleader, whom I called Umaru. As I called his name and he answered, I told him to leave and come back tomorrow. It was around 11 pm as I turned to enter the house, but before I knew it, he moved closer to me and macheted me on my neck.

How Ogidi DPO Rescued Mr. Gbenga From Death

Mr. Gbenga told Afrika Eyes that immediately after he was butchered, he started shouting Umaru’s name, with blood gushing out from his neck. He ran to his room, calling his wife and telling her that Umaru had macheted him, as he was covered with blood.

He narrated how Mr. Shuaib Abiola Mustapha, the Ogigi Divisional Police Officer (DPO), used his car to save his life on that very night.

“I have a motorcycle. Immediately, I kicked it into gear and drove myself to the Ogigi Divisional Police Station to complain because it was around midnight and everyone was asleep. I tried knocking on the police station gate with all my strength, feeling exhausted from the loss of blood.”

“As no one responded to me, I made my way to the DPO’s house. When he saw me covered in blood, he shouted, saying I should have gone to the hospital. I explained to him that I couldn’t go to the hospital because the police station is the closest facility to my town.

Mr. Gbenga stated that while the DPO was calling his men for assistance, he fell and collapsed. He said that from a distance, he heard that the DPO was already dead and could not survive.

“No one was able to move closer to me because they could not bear to look at the severity of the injury. My wife was shouting and crying bitterly. Everybody thought I had died. Only the DPO summoned the courage and, along with his men, carried me into his car and drove me to a village called Bere, very far from Ogigi. I was taken to a private hospital where I was rejected.

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He said that after a while, when he got a little strength, he summoned the courage to speak out and told them to take him to Iyin-Ade Hospital in Igbaja.

“On our way to Igbaja, the silencer of the DPO’s car was removed. He didn’t bother to stop and pick it up; instead, he proceeded to Iyin-Ade Hospital in Agbaja. It was there that they used a bandage to tighten my neck to stop blood from coming out.

He said the doctor who owned the hospital was not around when they arrived, but they met a doctor who does the cleaning and stitches minor wounds. However, Mr. Gbenga said it was the following evening when the doctor came to operate on his neck, and the procedure took almost three hours.

“I was shouting that I was thirsty and needed to drink water, while they kept persuading me that they would get me water. On the day of the incident, I was fasting and hadn’t eaten anything before Umaru came to attack me,” he said.

Mr. Gbenga thought that only death could scare people, but he didn’t realize that certain degrees of injuries can also frighten people and prevent them from moving closer. People were afraid to come near him because of the deep cut on his neck.

“After I left Igbaja, an elderly statesman in the state, Oyin Zubair, provided a car that took me to Omupo Cottage Hospital. It was Honorable Owolabi who insisted that I should be brought to Ilorin General Hospital for proper treatment.

Mr. Ggenga explained that Hon. Owolabi Olatunde Rasaq, a member representing the Share/Oke Ode constituency in the Kwara House of Assembly, took him to Ilorin General Hospital for proper care.

He said Hon. Owolabi cleared most of his hospital bills at Ilorin General Hospital and assured him of getting justice.

How An Investigating Police Officer Compromise With A Murderer 

Mr. Gbenga told Afrika Eyes about how Investigating Police Officer (IPO) Idris Abdullahi from the Monitoring Department at the Kwara State Police Command compromised with the suspects, collecting 2 million from them with the promise to kill the case.

“After the incident, the IPO came to meet me at the sickbed, and I wrote a statement on how the incident happened. It was then that he said, ‘This case will not be swept under the carpet because it is a homicide case.'”

“I heard that they later arrested Umaru and two other suspects. Two days later, someone told me that the police had freed Umaru. Immediately, I called the IPO to confirm.

He said he was surprised that Mr. Abdullahi, the IPO, told him to forget about the case, saying that since he was alive, he should thank God for his life.

“Someone who witnessed my condition as I battled with pain and agony on the sickbed promised to have those responsible arrested and prosecuted. Now, that same person is advising me to accept my fate and be grateful to my Creator for still being alive.

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He said he heard from a reliable source that the IPO collected 2 million from Umaru, and he assured them that the case would not see the light of day.

He said Hon Owolabi was the one who influenced the re-arrest of the suspect ‘Umaru’ after he had been released by the IPO who colluded with the Fulani leader in their community.

According to him, Umaru has been remanded to the Oke Kura Correctional Center in Ilorin.

How Ajowa Community Primary School Was Abandoned

Ajowa Community Primary School is shared by three communities but is located in Owode-Oko-Gbo community. It has been reported that Fulani herdsmen have attacked the school numerous times, injured students. However, the teachers have abandoned the school building and relocated to Owode-Oko-Gbo Central Mosque.

Mr. Gbenga said the same set of people were questioned by some students who approached them to stop grazing cows inside the school premises, but they were mercilessly beaten, and some of the students got injured.

“Every time I, as an elite person, attempt to report them to the Nigeria Police, my associates begin to plead, stating that it’s challenging to take action against Fulani people because they possess the financial means to bribe the police, that no action will be taken.

He said that the Fulani herdsmen prevent their children from attending school, yet they freely graze their cows on the school grounds, which have been abandoned by the school authorities due to fear of further attacks.

Mr. Gbenga pleaded with the Kwara State government and the Nigerian Police to intervene in the matter and conduct a thorough investigation into how the Fulani herdsmen, who are not indigenous to Owode-Oko-Gbo, used violence to take over their ancestral land.

“They have disfigured me. Right now, I cannot speak very well like before. I was not born like this. I spent over a million, and I even sold some of my properties in order to get well,” he added.

He urges the Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, to investigate the IPO in charge of his case, who colluded with the suspect and allegedly accepted 2 million naira to bury the case.

He, however, calls on the Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazak, as a matter of urgency to investigate the land dispute because it could lead to a tribal war if not addressed. He emphasized that justice needs to prevail.

When contacted, the spokesperson for the Kwara State Police Command, DSP Ejire-Adeyemi Toun, disclosed that a suspect had been arrested.

“Yes, the command is aware of the incident, a suspect has been arrested and charged to court,” she said.

Buhari Olanrewaju Ahmed, a seasoned investigative journalist and climate/environmental reporter with a decade of experience, unravels complex issues and amplifies critical voices. His in-depth investigative work and insightful reporting have earned him recognition as a trusted source of information. Ahmed's unwavering commitment to journalism and exceptional storytelling prowess make him a standout figure in investigative journalism. His work drives meaningful conversations, influences policy decisions, and inspires collective efforts toward a sustainable future.

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