Alhaji Salihu Abdulkadir, 78, is the Sarkin Fulani of Igangan in Ibarapa local government area of Oyo State. In this interview with ABDULLAHI OLESIN, Abdulkadir, a father of six university graduates, tell the story of his over 50-year sojourn in Igangan and the unresolved Igangan-Fulani crisis.
When did you move to Igangan?
I moved to Igangan in 1972.
When did you become the Sarikin Fulani I became Sarkin of all the Fulani in Ibarapa in 1992. The Alaafin of Oyo appointed me the Sarkin of all the Fulanibin Oyo State in 2018.
What will you attribute to the raging crisis between you and the people of Igangan?
I don’t know why it’s like that, all I noticed is that the people do not want to see the Fulani at all and I believe that the Igangan people are the real kidnappers. The abducted people are kept in the Kidnappers’ houses in the village because some of those abducted escaped. I reported the kidnapping incidents in my area to the police.
Has any of the kidnappers been arrested and prosecuted?
The ones arrested recently were eight. Five are in the police station, and the rest are in Agodi Prison in Ibadan.
Is it true that you are the intermediary between the kidnappers and the families of those abducted?
Nothing of sort, I personally report the kidnapping incidents to the police, how then would I be involved in such? This is a false accusation. The Fulani are the most abducted in Igangan, I can count up to 24 Fulani who were kidnapped, some were killed and others paid ransom. If I am to count the number of Igangan people abducted, they cannot be more than four
Who are the people kidnapping the Fulani?
The kidnapping gang consists of both the Igangan peoples and the Fulani.
Is the traditional ruler of Igangan aware of the kidnapping cases?
Yes, I reported every incident to the Oba of Igangan.
Before the coming of Sunday Igboho to Igangan, did you know him?
No, I don’t. Jambele invited Sunday Igboho to Igangan. Jambele is one of the kidnappers.
Is it true that you insisted that no one can make you leave Igangan?
Nobody asked me to leave, all I was told was that I must leave within seven days because they say that the Fulani are the kidnappers and the Yorubaland don’t want Fulani again on Yoruba land. Before I could respond, he (Sunday Igboho) fired a gunshot and three of my people were hit and it all became chaotic. He left the scene insisting that I must vacate the area before he comes back.
Is it true that three of your boys tried shooting?
That didn’t happen, if we had gund that day, we would have fought back. In my house no one can shoot. My kids are educated, I have one abroad, six are university graduates. The least educated is a secondary school graduate.
Is it true that when Sunday Igboho came, one of your boys shot and you said it was a mistake?
Nothing of such happened. Like I said earlier, we do not have guns in our house, we don’t know how to use gund.
The Fulani have been accused of setting cocoa farms owned by Yoruba farmers on fire in Igangan, is this true?
There is no cocoa farm in Igangan.
With the ultimatum Sunday Igboho gave, what steps did the government take?
I did my best, immediately the incident happened, I went to the deputy governor who assured me that everything will be fine. I went to the commissioner of police who gave me police to protect me. A few days to when the ultimatum would expire, I noticed all the police were gone. A day to Sunday Igboho’s arrival, the area commander invited me and told me to settle the scores with Sunday Igboho amicably. Five hours to Sunday Igboho’s arrival, the area commander called me and told me to meet them. Then a soldier informed me of the ambush Sunday Igboho had planned for me. Before I knew it, people bombarded my house with weapons and they burnt my house, killed six people and set nine vehicles ablaze.
All the traditional rulers in the area allegedly supported your eviction from Igangan?
We had a meeting with the Obas and they assured me that such will not happen. Over 200 of my cows, sheep, turkey, chicken are gone.
Since you left Igangan to the northern part where you are today, what has been your experience?
All I see is that I’m still alive. I eat even though I’m heart broken and depressed. The food we eat and the clothes I wear are given to me by people around us here.
Has the Oyo State government got in touch with you ever since you left the state?
No. Nothing from the state government yet. The police came here from Ibadan and took my statement and that’s all. I want the federal government to investigate the matter. What is my offence, and I want the government to help me.
Is it only your family that left Igangan?
Only a few Fulani are left in Oyo State. The few Fulani left are still packing and I was told they are being sent back by the Amotekun. So, I will say all the Fulani are told to leave. The people once visited us, killed my neighbour and two of his kids.
What do you know about Dr. Aborode’s death?
I know nothing about it.
Report has it that your cows destroyed his farm, when he came complaining to you, your people smashed him to death?
Who ever says such happen should come out and say it to my face. Aborode never came to me to complain. All I heard was that he was ambushed and killed by unknown people while being transported on motorcycle by one of his people . We learnt that Aborode was killed despite pleading and offering money so his life could be spared. The man who rode the motorcycle escaped unhurt and he did not report the matter to the police.
Do you feel his death was as a result of his political status?
Well, I can’t answer that.
Do you wish to go back to Igangan if this conflict is resolved?
If the government can assure me of my safety, I would love to go back because I have accepted Igangan as my home, having lived in the place for more than 50 years and without any issue with the people of the village, until this recent unfortunate development.
With the way things are, what do you think can be done to the Fulani’s cows eating the farmers’ crops?
Cows at times eat grasses and crops on farm land. That’s certain. But the public notion towards Fulani as kidnappers is wrong and I would never agree or succumb to that because it is a false allegation on all of us Fulani.
You said it’s is certain for cow to destroy farms?
Yes, for instance, a driver would not pray for an accident but it is certain it would eventually happen. Just like cow and open grazing. It happens and it’s a sort of mistake.
What we heard is that the farmers are not compensated in many instances?
Whoever that his cows ate farm crops and does not pay compensation is senseless. If it’s a deliberate act, it is wrong. Let’s look at it, how many farms can a cow eat from that would feed them? it’s not possible!
As the Ssrkin, how do you think problems associated with open grazin can be tackled?
Sometime ago, I told the police to arrest any Fulani that allows his cow to graze on farms and refuses to pay compensation to the farmers.
During a recent press conference in Ilorin, Kwara State, you said a Fulani man was killed in Igangan yet the police did nothing about it?
I said they were three. Three Fulani were killed and some were injured in our settlement.
What do you want the government to do to Sunday Igboho?
I want the government to investigate and tell us what our offence is. As regards Sunday Igboho, I believe whoever kills should be punished under the law. So, whatever the law says on a murderer should be applied to Sunday Igboho.