Herdsmen didn’t ambush me; I interacted with Fulani vigilante in Ondo – Kayode Ajulo

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A human rights lawyer and social critic, Dr Kayode Ajulo has confirmed that a Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Vigilante group is operating in Ondo State.

The Ondo State-born politician had shared photos of two members of the group he interacted with in the Akoko area of the state while en-route Abuja on Sunday, July 21, but the matter quickly generated into controversy.

However, in a statement on Monday in Abuja, he debunked reports in some sections of the media that claimed he ran into Fulani herdsmen mounting roadblocks in Ondo.

In the statement, Ajulo said the operation of the vigilance group is known to all the security apparatus in the area.

He said his interaction with the members of the vigilante group was a voluntary undertaking as part of his profiling as a discerning leader of his community.

He said the interaction was part of his desire to curb the menace of insecurity in Nigeria.

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He urged Nigerians to sever political and ethnic sentiments from their minds on the insecurity in the country.

According to him, other security men came to corroborate the claims of the two members of the vigilante group.

In the statement titled, “Synoptic account of my encounter with the Vigilante Group on the Highway,” the lawyer said, “My attention has been drawn to the publication in print and electronic media of my encounter with some vigilantes on my way from Akure on the 21st July, 2019 which has generated a lot of controversial responses from different quarters.

“I have received calls from various well-wishers and friends of mine, locally and internationally, who out of concern, inquired whether I was hurt or injured by the vigilantes. It is pertinent to state that I am quite hale and hearty without any injury or harm.

Photos of the vigilantes as shared by Kayode Ajulo:

Fulani vigilantes
Fulani vigilante member’s ID card
Fulani vigilantes
Fulani vigilantes

“Moreso, it is important to state for the records the actual facts as regards the events that occurred that fateful, Sunday afternoon of 21st July, 2019 in order to clarify the narrative trailing the publications.

“It is quite true that I was in Akure, Ondo State from Friday, 19th July, 2019 to Sunday, 22nd July, 2019 for my mother’s investiture as the Iya-Ijo (Chief Matron) of our home Church, Christ Anglican Church, Oke-Ifira-Akoko, Ondo State. On my way back to Abuja on the 22nd day of July, 2019 in the company of some security men, we saw two men at the highway around Akoko, Ondo State carrying dane guns.

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“On sighting them, inquiry was made as to their duty on the highway with guns in their hands, being not uniformed men.

“They thereafter responded that they were members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Vigilante group whose operation is known to all the security apparatus in the area.

“Also, they willingly showed us their identity cards which had their names and designations. Some other security men came to corroborate their claims.

“”I therefore wish to debunk the account that I was stopped by Fulani Herdsmen as peddled by some persons.

“Our interaction is a voluntary undertaking as part of my profiling as a discerning leader of my community, desirous of curbing the menace of insecurity in Nigeria.”

Miyetti Allah Fulani vigilante
Fulani vigilantes in Ondo

Ajulo cautioned Nigerians against turning the insecurity in the country to political and ethnic sentiments.

He added: response to the controversial reactions on my encounter with these men, it suffices to state that we as Nigerians must sever political and ethnic sentiments from our minds in the bid to nip this ubiquitous insecurity in the land in the bud.

“In my comment on the gruesome killing of Pa. Fasoranti’s daughter, and a confidant, I categorically and unapologetically hinted that we should not see the killing as inter-ethnic attack as there are reported cases of massive killings in other parts of the Country.

“Recently, about 32 persons were killed in Sokoto State, several others killed in Kaduna, Benue, Niger, Zamfara and other States by some undisclosed bandits, who to me irrespective of their ethnic background are criminal and must be treated as such.

“The naked truth is that the insecurity in Nigeria is national which must not be ignored and we must join hands with our security agencies to fight the menace.

“Thus, we should not allow ethnicity and sentiment to becloud our sense of judgment and humanity in the war against insecurity. We are at a time in our nation that pretentious and sentimental interactions no longer works otherwise this bigotry may fan into flame the embers of civil war in this Country.”

According to him, “It will not be out of place to ask this poser: is it due to the lackadaisical attitude of the Law enforcement agencies and disregards for the inputs and indelible contributions of our leaders, the OPC and other local vigilante groups that these Miyette Allah groups are now manning our highways in the South West?

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“This is the question that must be addressed by all stakeholders regardless of their ethnic, religious and political affiliations.

“As I thank all for their concern, may I conclude with the words of the legendry Late Justice Chukwudifu Oputa JSC (as he then was) that “when we act in unison, we will achieve the peace that we search, but when we are fighting separately, it is not coordinate and if we don’t accommodate one another, we cannot live together”.

Reacting to the development, the Ondo State Commissioner for Information, Donald Ojogo, said the matter was known to the government.

“The Ondo State Government observes with concern trending pictures of an identity card carrying men identified as Fulani vigilante in the Akoko area of the state. Various claims have been as regards the activities, duties as well as supposed mandate of these men in question,” TheCable quoted him as saying.

“It is pertinent to recall that at the height of the incessant kidnap cases, the Ondo State Government took some far-reaching drastic measures which included a marching order to the law-abiding Hausa/Fulani leadership in the area to fish out criminal elements among them who took advantage of the rosy relationship between the indigenes and their law-abiding guests.

“As a measure to curb and possibly, stamp out cases of kidnap in the area, the Hausa Fulani leadership was directed to select a handful of trusted men amongst them who could serve as tour guides in the thick forest as security agencies prepared to comb the forests. This measure yielded results.”

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