No fewer than five villages were reportedly sacked in Ondo State on Sunday following an alleged invasion by some Fulani herdsmen.
The affected communities are Adejubu, Adewole, Olotin, Olondan and Jojo, all in the Akure North Local Government Area of the state.
According to a source, the herdsmen allegedly invaded the villages on reprisal as the residents of the affected communities had chased them away from grazing on their farmlands.
The source said, “The Fulani herdsmen usually destroy the farms of the villagers whenever their cows are grazing. So, last week, the herdsmen came again to graze and the villagers chased them away.
“On Sunday night, the herdsmen came in large numbers and burnt down houses in the villages. The residents of the villages had to run away for their lives or risk being killed.”
The source added that there was no life lost in the attack, but many buildings were allegedly destroyed by the herdsmen.
The head of one of the communities, Mr Adegoroye Oro, expressed displeasure at the activities of Fulani herders in the area, saying the indigenes had lost their farm crops to the herdsmen, who usually invade their farmlands in the night and allow their cows to graze on the crops.
It was gathered that men of the state police command and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps had been deployed in the area to forestall a further breakdown of law and order.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr Tee-Leo Ikoro, said he had not been briefed about the incident.
“I am not aware of the incident; I will have to contact the DPO of the division and I will get back to you as soon as I get a brief from the area,” Ikoro told our correspondent.
However, he had yet to get back to our correspondent as of the time of filing this report despite several calls to his mobile telephone.
His counterpart in the state command of the NSCDC, Mr Ayodeji Olufemi, however, said the corps’ personnel could not find any burnt house in the villages.
“When we got the information about the attack, our men moved there immediately but the report they brought was that there were no traces of burnt buildings and also the residents, who raised the alarm and the alleged Fulani herdsmen were not found in the villages,” he stated.
In a related development, the Imo State Government has launched a move for the recovery of about 100 cattle, which are said to be missing during a clash between the herders and residents of the Ezinihitte Mbaise Local Government Area of the state on Monday.
The herders and the locals had clashed over grazing sites.
The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, said in a statement, “The situation is under control. The disagreement between the two parties will be settled amicably. Governor Hope Uzodinma has personally intervened in the crisis and has given an assurance that the government will resolve all the issues in dispute amicably.
“The government of Imo State regretted the unfortunate incident that happened in Ezinihitte Mbaise a few days ago, which led to the loss of many cows by the herdsmen.
“It is unfortunate that out of the 127 cows that were attacked by the villagers, only 27 have been recovered so far.
“The government is using the opportunity to appeal to the residents of the neighbouring local government areas of Obowo and Okigwe to join in the search for the missing cows.
“Community leaders and residents should, as a matter of urgency, provide useful information about the cows to the Special Adviser to the Governor on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs or the transition committee chairmen or security agencies, while those in the affected LGAs should remain calm and go about their legitimate engagements. The people living in the areas should cooperate with their leaders and security agencies in the search for the missing cows.”