The Catholic Bishop of Osogbo Diocese, Most Reverend John Akin Oyejola, on Monday, raised an alarm over looming herdsmen and farmers’ clash in some communities in Osun and Ondo states, saying security agencies and relevant government agencies must deploy proactive measures to nip the development in the bud.
He maintained that there had been alleged influx of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), strange individuals and migration of some herdsmen into some communities in Osun and Ondo states.
Addressing a press conference in Osogbo as part of the activities, commemorating 2018 Catholic Media Week, Oyejola said: “While we appreciate the government of Osun state and community-based initiatives for making the state relatively secured compared to other parts of the country, we wish to say that the bloodshed in other parts of the country has led to the influx of people from these war-wearied parts of the nation to the South-West”.
According to the clergy, “towns and rural communities in the Osun wake up daily to new faces with new behaviours and mentality most of whom are traumatised by displacement. The government has not shown any initiative for their proper integration in a manner that will foster peace by preventing violent competition for scarce resources”,
While premising his submission on the field work embarked on by the Catholic Church, Oyejola affirmed that “credible stakeholders corroborate facts that reality already put before us that with the shrinking of grazing land in the North and the eruption of violent clashes around the Benue floodplain, the traffic of nomadic herdsmen heading into the South has grown geometrically in a very alarming rate”.
He continued, “The rate is even increased by the fact that Ekiti State has passed the anti-open grazing law redirecting most of the nomadic traffic exclusively in the direction of Ondo and Osun. Those nomadic herdsmen who used to leave the South West at the beginning of raining season have mostly refused to leave this year. This clearly indicates that there will be multiple clashes between them and farmers in our rural communities who raise their crops mainly during the rainy season”.
“Unfortunately, we have not noticed any initiative on the part of the government to manage the problems of security and human right abuse that this may generate in Osun State”, Oyejola asserted.
He emphasised that “security of human life is the first sacred duty of every functional social entity”, lamenting that “indications of general insecurity of human life are only pointers to the collapse and cessation of such society.
Ojejola further stated that “we are grieved over the situation of security in our country Nigeria at this time. The spreading of mass killing of innocent citizens seemingly deliberately left defenceless by the government grieves our heart. The dimension and the pattern of this tragic slaughter compel our collective conscience as a Church to voice out that this seems like a planned and well-organised warfare directed towards the extermination of Christians”.
“The Catholic Church in Nigeria along with other well-meaning Nigeria have continually cried to the government to rethink and reconfigure its security apparatus and strategy. We have collectively with millions of Nigeria expressed our lack of confidence in the security agencies of the country placed in the hands of adherents of only one religion in a country where religion still remains a major factor which shapes public opinion and actions”, the clergy posited.