Palpable fear has now gripped residents of Ilorin and its environs as well as the entire Kwara State over the influx of suspected herdsmen into the state.
The fear, according to DAILY POST findings, has now been heightened with the relocation of the sacked Sarkin Fulani of Igangan, Salihu Abdulkadir to Ilorin, the State capital.
Recall that Abdulkadir was sent packing with his family from Igangan in Ibarapa Local Government Area of Oyo State following a seven-day ultimatum issued by Sunday Igboho over alleged kidnapping, killings and other criminal acts in the town.
On Thursday, Abdulkadir announced his relocation to Ilorin at a press conference, where he indicted the Oyo police command of conniving with the people of Igangan to make him a scapegoat.
“Given the conspiracy by the police with the natives of Igangan, I and my people, will not feel comfortable returning to Igangan,” he told newsmen at the press conference.
Our Correspondent observed that, the relocation of the Sarkin Fulani to Ilorin, has, however, triggered concern about the safety of lives and property among residents, considering the serious allegations against him and his family.
Few days after the eviction of the Sarkin Fulani, the Kwara State Coordinator of Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, New Era, Comrade Bayo Fabiyi, raised the alarm over the suspicious influx of suspected herdsmen into the state.
In a chat with DAILY POST on Friday in Ilorin, Fabiyi described as “unacceptable the decision of the Sarkin Fulani to seek asylum in Ilorin.”
He challenged Sarkin Fulani to prove his claim that he is a native of Asa Local Government Area of the state, saying, ” He is a liar.”
The OPC coordinator, disclosed that ” The Sarkin Fulani and his men chased away from Igangan and other areas in Oyo State, have found their way to Kwara” as he reliably gathered.
He revealed that on Wednesday, nine trailer load of herdsmen and cattle were chased back from Esie, in Irepodun Local Government of the State by local hunters.
” Settlements like Esie, Arandun, Omido, Agbamu, Oro-Ago, Amori, Oke-Ode, Buari, Igbaja, up to Share area have been overwhelmed by the influx of these herders with most of them carrying arms, making it dangerous and suspicious,” he added.
Fabiyi, stressed the need for Kwara and Kogi States to collaborate in the bid to dislodge the herdsmen to avoid future situation of managing a monumental crisis instead of nipping it in the bud.
Fabiyi, said, his men stationed across the state, gave him intelligence report about the suspicious movements of cattle herders into some Yoruba speaking areas of the state and have virtually outnumbered the inhabitants.
A resident of Ilorin, Toyin Awe, who is also a teacher, condemned the relocation of the herdsmen led by the Sarkin Fulani and prayed God to protect residents.
She described their presence as dangerous, arguing that they should not be allowed to stay because “they are brutal and kill at will.”
Awe, called on the government and security agencies to be at alert and send them out of Kwara State.
A security expert, Dr Abdulsalam Bolakale Suleiman warned that ” Igangan issue, if not curbed in good time, its escalation could consume the country.”
He said, “Factors responsible are located around institutional weakness of local, state, and federal governments as regards absence of review of security situations via security committee and council meetings.”
Abdulsalam, said, ” Whereas, we need to prepare for war during peacetime, there is the need for constant review of the environment in order to avoid elements of surprise.”
A public affair analyst who spoke with our correspondent, Shola Mose, described the development as worrisome, saying, he has warned the government authorities and the police not to fold their arms under the impression that Kwara remains a state of harmony.
” Kwara is within the frontiers of the turbulent neighbouring states, so we have to prepare for any eventuality, our silence could allow their crisis to spill over to our state.”
In a reaction, the spokesman of the Nigeria Civil Defence Corps, Kwara State command, Olasunkanmi Ayeni, said “security agencies are on top of the security situation in the state.”
He described the security situation in the state as calm, adding that, “the security architecture in the state and the efforts of the state government puts us ahead of them, we are not sleeping at all.
” We are manning all entry points into Kwara State to ensure that we don’t have unnecessary influx of suspected killer herdsmen to forestall any likely crisis,” he stated.
Also commenting on the development, a top government security officer, who requested anonymity, said ” the government is equal to the task of protecting the lives and properties of the citizens” adding that ” there is no cause for alarm.”
In his own reaction, the spokesman of the state police command, Mr Okasanmi Ajayi, said ” The command is firmly on ground to avert any security threat.
” The Kwara State police commissioner, Lawal Mohammed Bagega, last week, held an emergency security meeting with Area commanders, divisional police officers, and heads of tactical units in the command on the need to ensure there is no security breach.
” On anxiety of strange faces in parts of the state, the command is monitoring the situation, no efforts would be spared to ensure Kwara remains safe.
” Meanwhile, the command is in constant touch with the relevant stakeholders in this regards,” the spokesman added.