Residents of Oke Ogun axis of Oyo State have warned of an impending food crisis if efforts are not made to check incessant kidnappings and other crimes on farmers and other citizens in the area.
The people spoke in interviews with HumAngle following numerous unreported cases of such activities.
Oke Ogun consists of 10 local government areas in Oyo state, namely, Atisbo, Oorelope, Iseyin, Itesiwaju, Kajola, Irepo, Olorunsogo, Iwajowa, Saki East and Saki West.
Recently, Modupeoluwa Oyetoso, a victim of insecurity in that region, took to Twitter recently to speak up on what she called unreported cases of insecurity going on in the region as victims keep silent on their ordeal.
Recounting her experience, Oyetoso said, “I was kidnapped by Fulani men on my way from the farm and my fiancée who was driving the car was shot and killed.
“I regained my freedom after my parents paid a ransom. I heard two people had been abducted again, one from the same town and another from a neighbouring town.
“Interestingly, even I was expecting to hear about in the news and learn what the government had done about it. Alas! There was only silence. Just as I have been silent.
“No one is willing to talk about it, and we all suffer alone and in silence. Speaking out is a tough decision.”
Mr Rasaki Adetola, a resident of Iseyin, said the area was agrarianan and supplied food for major cities, including Lagos, but the people faced serious security challenges ranging from herders/ farmers clashes to kidnapping.
He said “when cases get to police stations the herders will resch agreements with farmers to pay for the damage on crops” and to avoid a recurrence of similar acts in the future.
“But they will not pay and later attack the farmers.
“Most of the foods you see in Ibadan,
Iseyin, Okeho, Itesiwaju and Atisbo among other towns are from the Oke Ogun region.
“So, we are producing the largest part of the food they are eating in the city,” Adetola said.
He said farmers faced attacks from herders whose animals fed on crops on their farms.
“Sometimes Yoruba farmers will have meetings with the head of the Fulani and sometimes they will ask them to pay for destruction on farmlands.
“But the payment cannot compensate for the level of destruction of the crops on the farm.
“We have to learn to live together in peace and we believe that gradually things are improving,” he said.
He said the state government must do more in terms of security in the region.
“This is because the Fulani migrate enmass to this region and are free to move and live anywhere,” Adetola said.
Also, Mr Joseph Omoyele, a retired police officer and Chairman, Police Community Relations Committee in Oke Ogun, said “the main challenge here is that of Fulani herdsmen and the farmers.
“We are an agrarian community and the only problem we have is the Bororo Fulani destroying crops on farmlands.
“We are the ones feeding other towns in Oyo State and even Lagos State. Farmers are peaceful people because any unrest will disrupt our farming business so we stay away from trouble.
“The latest security challenges are the issue of bank robbery at Otu and fortunately the culprits were apprehended by the police.
“Then we heard of two incidents whereby a customs officer shot someone at Iseyin here. That he smuggled goods and was being chased and because they could not get him to stop he was shot and killed.
“We also heard that someone was killed at Saki,” he said.
Omoyele who is also a farmer from Iseyin, Saki area of Oyo State, said the challenges of herders clashing with farmers on farmlands was a major setback that might lead to food shortages.
“That is the major problem here, this has great effects of farming as those who borrowed to farm, who planted cassava and maize run into lossrd instead of making gains to repay their loans and have savings.
“Most times such farmers record losses due to cows eating up their crops. Those who perpetrate this evil go into farmlands when they know farmers will not be there to destroy their farms.
“They do this and get away, if the farmer goes to meet the Fulani living in the neighbourhood they absolve themselves of responsibility of the incidents.
“But sometimes farmers may be lucky to apprehend the perpetrator and then get settled. If they destroyed goods worth N500,000 the farmer at the end of the settlement may get N100,000 and that has been the case most often,” he said.
Omoyele advocated recruitment of more people to support security efforts.
“Government is not doing enough in terms of security because we the citizens are the ones supporting the government to ensure security of our lives and property.
“And the civilian volunteers are limited in what they can do. It is only those employed by the government that have the weapons to combat any challenge that may come up.
“But we the civilian task force do not have guns but only cutlass and baton and what can these two instruments do compared to someone carrying a gun?
“Everybody goes round with an AK-47 and this weapon has about 20 to 25 bullets and that alone wreaks great havoc,” Omoyele said.
Meanwhile, the Police Public Relations Officer in Oyo State, SP Olugbenga Fadeyi, said the Police Tactical Team had been deployed to the area to check crime.
“We have the Mopol 72 squadron at Ago Are deployed along the route to give maximum security coverage for travellers along Oke Ogun axis.
“All police divisions also have their divisional police patrol teams to protect their immediate areas of jurisdictions. The SRS KIA RIO patrol vehicles are also there to patrol the axis,” Fadeyi said.