Fulani herdsmen return to Falae’s farm, destroy crops

CHIEF Olu Falae’s farm in Akure has again been attacked by Fulani herdsmen, barely two weeks after the herdsmen kidnapped the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and kept him for four days.

The herdsmen reportedly moved in their cattle into the farm situated at Ilado on the outskirts of the state capital at about 2am on Monday and destroyed a one-kilometre stretch of maize plantation.

Manager of the farm, Mr Bruno Akhigbodemen, who conducted journalists round the farmland on Wednesday, said the herdsmen ran away before help could come after the workers they met in the farm had raised the alarm.

Akhigbodemen said, “The destruction visited on the farm is devastating. They invaded the farm and made their cows to eat and destroy our maize that covers over one kilometre.

“They came around 2am; one of the workers raised the alarm but before help could come they had destroyed the farm and fled. We quickly informed Baba (Falae) who immediately reported to the police.”

The farm manager said some detectives were thereafter drafted to the farm.

But the spokesman for the state police command, Mr. Femi Joseph,  reportedly said yesterday that he had not been briefed on the incident.

Curiously, the CP denied knowledge of the attack when contacted by The Punch on Wednesday.

“I am not aware that any herdsmen attacked Chief Falae’s farm again, I’am not aware,” he said.

Falae, also a one-time finance minister, was kidnapped from his farm by suspected Fulani herdsmen on his 77th birthday on September 21 and was not set free until four days later.

He said he was tortured by his abductors and that ransom was paid before they set him free.

He also said his abductors threatened to kidnap him again if he started saying “rubbish” after his release.

When a former Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Alani Akinrinade, paid him a visit after his release, Falae had said, “There were six of them with three or four guns and every half an hour or so they will say, ‘Baba we are going to kill you; if you don’t give us money we are going to kill you.’

“On Wednesday one of them came and said, ‘look we are going to leave here on Thursday morning. Since we cannot leave you here alone, if we don’t get what we want, we are going to kill you.

“And they said they gave me until 3pm, and if at 3pm they don’t get the money, they would execute me. I thank God that at 21 minutes to 3pm, one of them came and said, ‘the money don complete.’

The Ondo State government also condemned the attack, which it described as “despicable.”

Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said “It is unfortunate that up till now, neither President Muhammadu Buhari nor the Federal Government has made a statement on the issue.”

“Do they expect us to fold our arms and let this continue? This is what they have been doing all over the country. This never happened during the First Republic or the Second Republic.”

He wondered why the government couldn’t  confine herders and cattle rearers to grazing fields. He also pointed out that it would be difficult to coexist at the expense of  lives and property.

The Ondo State Commissioner for Information, Mr Kayode Akinmade, condemned the act, saying it was despicable and unacceptable.

He said, “It is despicable and unacceptable, we condemned it in its entirety and we believe that the security agencies will take action appropriately to nip further attacks in the bud.

“The first time they attacked Chief Falae’s farm they kidnapped the elder statesman and again they are now coming back to destroy the farm. They want to desecrate our land, this is unacceptable.’’

He then enjoined the security agencies to take a drastic step to ensure the safety of the lives and properties of the people of the state.

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