This report will show why a support for Sunday Igboho’s approach against banditry and criminality is exactly what the apparatchiks from their group have long thought of, planned for and expect. Those supporting Sunday are doing exactly what the bandits want them to do before they finally strike hard. So, CALM DOWN!
A CAVEAT: There are Fulani who mean well and are doing well; just as there are some who have moved down south who simply are criminals. In fact, they also have these criminals up North, kidnapping and killing. We have people of other tribes who mean well and are also doing well; just as we have people of those tribes who are hardened criminals, too.
That said, let us interrogate the latest violent tiff about the response to suspected Fulani bandits in Oyo State and, by extension, South West and Yoruba nation.
Some of our Yoruba brothers willfully embraced, campaigned with and voted for President Buhari. That is their right and it should be respected. We begrudge them not. Between 2015 and 2017/2018 when some more clear-headed Yoruba sons complained about President Buhari and the obvious lopsidedness in appointments, were they not abused as being corrupt, impatient and judgmental? The plethora of WhatsApp platforms used to promote President Buhari dominated cyberspace. They basked in the euphoria of a new dawn as they put it. So, with the history of everything that is wrong with fairness, justice, equity and equality, who or what interests did these people think they were promoting? Some of them have now found a new opium in the disguised emancipation charge of one Sunday Igboho.
To be clear, let us disaggregate the issues.
The suspected criminal elements in our midst have caused so much havoc. Some are Yoruba and some are Fulani. Yes, there have been criminal acts that should not and must not be tolerated by anyone. There are cogent and verifiable pieces of evidence to support the suggestion that President Buhari’s attitude to banditry by suspected herders continues to embolden some criminal elements among them to continue their voyage of destruction in Yoruba land; and in the North, too. To demonstrate their audacity, they kidnapped over 300 students in President Buhari’s Katsina State at a time when he was in town.
In Oyo State, these acts of criminality would not be tolerated and there needed to be a response and there was a response.
Of all the six South West states, none has done more to empower AMOTEKUN as Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has done. This is a fact, without discounting the noble efforts of other governors in the zone.
Already, AMOTEKUN had started recording exploits against these bandits and criminals; however, there were gaps of overzealousness which were already being attended to by Governor Makinde.
But alas, our own Yoruba people, some sons and daughters of Oyo State, supposedly known for their sagacity, temperance and wisdom, were among the first to start criticizing AMOTEKUN for high-handedness. Unfortunately, these people took a cue from a newspaper with an established pro-Fulani agenda. When AMOTEKUN killed three criminal elements in the forests of Ibarapa just a fortnight ago, the newspaper said AMOTEKUN killed three Fulani. And barely two days later, the same newspaper published that AMOTEKUN had gone berserk with the killing of 11 people in three weeks. Yet, in that report, it failed to publish the names of the 11 killed, apart from a victim of accidental discharge for which over half a dozen AMOTEKUN Operatives were discharged and handed over to the Police for prosecution. But the agenda-setting machinery of the people we are dealing with succeeded, in a way, to bend the minds of our Yoruba sons who then started to demonize AMOTEKUN. Mind you, AMOTEKUN is established by law. It had already set some clandestine operations in motion with timelines and expected deliverables in terms of containment and elimination of threats, only for one Sunday Igboho to emerge.
Today, the same bandits have surreptitiously cornered the brains of some of our people and conditioned their minds to the false belief that only illegality will help them. That is why otherwise intelligent people are now sold to the theory of violence and are rooting for Igboho as their saviour. Whatever Igboho wants to do, he would need to work with like-minded people but would then need to act within the ambit of the law. To think he has started a struggle that will ensure emancipation is a misplaced thinking. To believe that chasing away a few people and burning houses and cars is the only option, suggests that something wrong is happening to the famed Yoruba predisposition to quality thinking and measured approach to crisis. Yes, our people have been under the yoke of Fulani bandits for some time now. No one can just forget the murder of Dr. Aborode nor can anyone not be touched by the rape, kidnap and destruction of farmlands by bandits. Anyone could have been a victim.
But because WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, FaceTime and Tweeter are very good and they offer freedom to express one’s self with little or no consequences, should not mean we must use it to propagate fake news, twist narratives and encourage carnage.
The paradox in all these is that we now have many Yoruba people doing Bandits’ bidding without knowing it. They are rooting for Igboho to engage in more brigandage, engage in more illegalities, turn Yoruba land into an endangered zone after which you give the federal authorities who have never hidden what some people have seen as their support for Fulani, the excuse to turn Yorubaland into their theatre for war games.
It is convenient for an Nnamdi Kanu to talk from the comfort of London and encourage unrest. He will keep doing that to sustain his own agenda.
Question: Will Yoruba allow bandits to hold sway in our land and provide an excuse for the destruction of lives and properties under what would be termed securing of lives?
The answer is NO.
The story of the destruction of Lagos during the #EndSARS riots is still unfolding at the panel of inquiry. Under the guise of protest, hoodlums took over Lagos and caused damage in the billions – in fact, Governor Jide Sanyo-Olu put the cost at our N1trillion. Is that what we want in Oyo State? To set our state on fire under the guise of emancipation? Governor Makinde will not allow that.
However, the only way the bandits can be effectively dealt with is through legal means and that is what AMOTEKUN has started doing.
To short-circuit the process and hinge survival on an effervescent effort that may die-down soon, without any clear and sustainable approach that will deliver progressive outcomes is to do exactly what the bandits’ apparatchik want.
When did Yoruba start acting based on impulse? Mind you, when we were cheated out of the June 12 mandate, we did not engage in acts of criminality to settle scores. We sat back, donned our thinking caps and engaged a strategy that eventually produced two presidential candidates of different political parties for the same election in 1999. That wisdom is still there. Things are already evolving.
Part of the plot is to stop AMOTEKUN from carrying out its legal duties for which no one will be able to fault it; but Makinde will not allow that.
When – not if – AMOTEKUN engage bandits in a gun duel, it will never be misreported as ethnic clash.
When – not if – AMOTEKUN rightly burn down criminal hideouts, it would never be misreported as arson.
When – not if – AMOTEKUN ensure the arrest of suspected bandits, it would never be misreported as extra-judicial engagement.
When – not if – AMOTEKUN go after suspected bandits anywhere in Oyo State, or South West, for that matter, it will never be misreported as persecution.
When – not if – AMOTEKUN rightly confront suspected bandits in any of our forests and succeed in eliminating or neutralizing them, it will never be misreported as ethnic cleansing.
When – not if – AMOTEKUN parade criminals, it would not be misreported as exposing any tribe to scorn and ridicule.
Unfortunately because of the channel noise created by Sunday Igboho, the strategic plans and operations AMOTEKUN would have undertaken legally as a security network are now on hold. Who loses? The Yoruba nation of course; because this hiatus may allow for more deadly bandits to seek newer enclaves to resettle from where attacks may be launched.
*Alapatira wrote from Ibadan