The Ondo State capital, was yesterday sacked by over 30 rampaging herdsmen.
This came on a day Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, said the attitude shown by President Muhammadu Buhari so far on the issue indicated someone who was under trance.
This is even as a Coalition of Northern Groups, CNG, yesterday accused political leaders and elders in Benue, Kaduna, Taraba and Zamfara states of sponsoring the wave of killings and violent altercations between herders and farmers, asking President Buhari to immediately declare a state of emergency in those areas.
On the invasion of the local government council, the workers fled as the rampaging herdsmen inflicted matchet cuts on the shoulder of the council’s agriculture officer, Simon Johnson.
Three couples about to wed at the council’s registry at the time of the invasion also fled the scene as the herdsmen disrupted the ceremony. Many of the workers and guests at the wedding ceremony returned later in search of their handbags and shoes after normalcy returned to the council.
The daring herdsmen, brandishing dangerous weapons, pursued the workers until the entire secretariat was empty, thus paralysing activities for hours.
Both senior and junior workers scaled the fence of the secretariat to save themselves from the invading herdsmen.
It was gathered that the council chairman, Margaret Atere, was ferried out of the secretariat by some of her aides.
How it started It was learned that the herdsmen had early yesterday invaded a farm belonging to the council which is located behind the council secretariat and destroyed it. The farm, in which vegetables and other crops were planted, was reportedly devastated by the cattle brought by the herdsmen.
It was learned that the agriculture officer, who met the cattle destroying the farm, challenged the herdsmen who in turn beckoned on others who dealt some matchet cuts on his shoulder. One of the council workers, Ojomu Olaiye, who witnessed the incident from afar and tried to record it on his mobile telephone, was accosted and wounded. Top security chiefs in the state rushed to the scene following a distress call by the council chairman.
Detectives, it was learned, were hurriedly deployed to the area by the state Police Commissioner, Gbenga Adeyanju, who visited the scene in company of Senior Special Adviser to the governor on Security Matters, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo.
The herdsmen, sensing that they may be arrested, fled the scene before the arrival of security operatives.
The Police Commissioner and the council chairman later rushed to inform the state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, of the security situation in the state capital. Speaking with newsmen, the council boss, Mrs Atere, who confirmed the incident, pleaded with the state government to provide adequate security in the council for fear of another attack by the herdsmen.
Atere, who expressed worries over the effrontery of the herdsmen to sack the entire council, said the council cannot remain closed.
“We have started making peace with the herdsmen around the council. It is not possible for us to close down the entire council because of what happened. “Work will continue and we will be here everyday till 4pm. It is not possible for us to close down the council,” she said.
State chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Bosede Daramola, accompanied by the Joint Negotiating Council chairman, Opeyemi Oloniyo, and president of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, in the state, Bunmi Eniayewu, rushed to the council to witness the incident. Workers safety first — NLC Speaking with newsmen, NLC state chairman, Daramola, said workers would return to the council, only if their lives were guaranteed. Daramola expressed fears that the herdsmen might return because the farm that was devastated was on a swampy terrain.
She said: “Workers will not leave their work place and since that place is at the bank of a river, the herdsmen will always come back with their cattle.
“The workers are working, discharging their duties, and we don’t want to lose any of our workers. The herdsmen need to be cautioned and checkmated to avoid a reoccurrence.”
The Police Commissioner, Adeyanju, said normalcy had returned to the troubled area, adding, however, that no arrest had been made by detectives deployed to maintain peace after the break down of law and order in the council.
At press time yesterday, only pockets of workers had returned to the council after the attack. Many of the workers stayed around the premises for fear of another attack by the herdsmen who, according to some workers, promised to come back.
Don’t allow people resort to self help, Deji The Deji of Akureland, Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi has condemned the activities of the herdsmen who overran the council and equally destroyed the farm belonging to the council.
Oba Aladelusi said President Buhari should call the herdsmen to order “to avoid self defence by our people once we are left with no option.”
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Michael Adeyeye in Akure said “Oba Aladetoyinbo wondered why the herdsmen would have chosen to lead their cattle to graze on the farmland belonging to the council if not an attempt to create crisis in town.
“The herdsmen went as far as injuring staff of the council who had made frantic efforts to prevent the wanton destruction carried out on the farm. “It is so sad that no major arrest or prosecution had been made by the Police since the attack on Chief Olu Falae’s farm.
Now the arsonists who parade themselves as herdsmen target the local government as their next point of call.
“His Majesty wishes to call on President Muhammadu Buhari not to treat the issue of these notorious herdsmen with kid gloves as their activities are becoming worrisome and unbearable.
“Akure people can no longer tolerate the excesses of these herdsmen who are now making life unbearable with their nefarious attitudes.”