IS SUNDAY IGBOHO RIGHT OR WRONG TO GIVE A SEVEN-DAY ULTIMATUM TO FULANI HERDERS IN OYO STATE?

Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, has been in the news lately following his agitation for a Yoruba nation and subsequent clash with the Fulani community in Oyo State. He recently gave a seven-days ultimatum to Fulani herders in the Ibarapa axis of Oyo State to leave the area in the wake of the heightened insecurity in the state, as well as the South-west, as a result of the activities of kidnappers and bandits. Mr. Igboho alleged that herders have been responsible for the killings and kidnappings of the residents of Oke-Ogun and Ibarapa. Despite the warning by Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Mr Igboho invaded Igangan on 22nd January, 2020. The invasion led to the clash between some Yoruba youth and Fulani in the community.

Section 41(1) of the 1999 Constitution provides that, every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part of it, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry or exit from it. Therefore, the Fulani herders have a right to be in any part of Nigeria including Oyo State. Sunday Igboho’s seven-day ultimatum and subsequent invasion of Igangan in search of Fulani Herders is illegal, unconstitutional, null and void. Additionally, Section 33(1) of the 1999 Constitution provides that persons living in Nigeria, shall have a right to life and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life unless in execution of the sentence of a court of a criminal office of which he has been found guilty.

Although Sections 32(3) and 286 of the Criminal Code provides for self-defence as one of the defences from criminal liability, this defence is only open and available to an accused who is able to prove that he was a victim of an unprovoked assault causing him reasonable apprehension of death or grievous harm. It is his entitlement to use and apply such force to defend himself as he believes, on reasonable grounds, to be necessary to preserve himself from the danger, and this, he is entitled to do even though such force may cause death or grievous harm. However, if the act said to be a self-defence is committed after all danger from the assailant is past and by way of revenge, then the defence will not be available to such an accused person. See Per ARIWOOLA, JSC in Afosi V. State[1]. Therefore, this defence will not be available to Sunday Igboho. Which means that he has no legal justification for his conduct.

[1] (2013) LPELR-20751(SC)”. PER U. M.A. AJI, J.S.C.

The right to freedom from discrimination is provided under Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution, Sunday Igboho’s seven-days ultimatum is however discriminatory in nature because it focuses on the Fulani Herders. Sunday Igboho has taken the law into his hands and there is no justification for crime. He should be arrested and prosecuted accordingly.

The 1999 Constitution under Chapter 2 provides for the primary duty of the Government to protect lives and properties of the Citizens. However, the government has failed in their primary responsibility. In 2019, the Oyo State Government in an attempt to regulate the activities of Fulani Herders passed the Anti-Open Grazing Law. Despite the passage of the Oyo State Open Rearing and Grazing Regulation Law 2019, by the state House of Assembly, herdsmen go on the rampage, killing farmers, destroying farms, and raping minors in over 60 communities in the Oke-Ogun zone of the state. The law states that anyone who engages in open rearing or grazing of livestock is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for five years or a fine of N500,000 or both. Subsequent offenders shall, upon conviction, be liable to 10-year imprisonment or a fine of N2 million or both. The law has difficulty in the area of enforcement.

It is important to note that not all Fulani Herders are responsible for the clashes between farmers and herdsmen, kidnappings, killings and robberies, instead, insecurity seems to be threatening food production in the state, while the law implementation is hampered as there are no enforcement agents.

Finally, Government needs to do more by providing adequate security, investing in high technological gadgets to detect crime, enforcing anti-grazing laws, provides education and create jobs. Nigeria has suffered for decades from the impact of communal violence between Fulani herders and farming. Clashes between different groups of Fulani herders and farmers have killed thousands of people in Nigeria over the past two decades.

Fulani herders travel hundreds of miles in large numbers with their cattle in search of essential resources such as farmland, grazing areas and water, they (Fulani’s) are often armed with weapons to protect their livestock. These have led to the regular accusation of Fulani cattle’s destroying the growing annual crops of the farmers as they travel across in search for grazing resources. Conflict between arable crop farmers and cattle herdsmen over the use of agricultural land is still pervasive in Nigeria, and portends grave consequences for rural development. It has demonstrated great potential to affect various aspects of rural life. The conflicts had far reaching economic, production, loss of life and sources of livelihood and displacements of people from their settlements.

The near silence from the federal government and inadequate response from the state government have left the affected communities in despair.

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