Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka has given a blow-by-blow account on how some herdsmen led cattle to invade his home in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Speaking on NewsDay programme monitored on Arise Television on Thursday, Soyinka expressed suprise that the Police could denied the incident.
The right activist, who also bared his mind on the recent report credited to Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, that the Federal Government should compensate herdsmen and bandits terrorising the country, said the Islamic cleric recommendation was rubbish.
On the cattle invasion, he said: “I think the police need to be educated that, when people talk about home, there are not talking about just the physical building, they’re talking about home as home, which includes, the ground.
READ ALSO :Again, herdsmen attack Ogun village, kill 2
“No cattle people attacked me that’s the fact, I’m here physically and I didn’t suffer any injury, it never happened. But my home was invaded by cattle, why should the police go to such length as to suggest that I had nothing better to do than to go accosting cattle on the road, what is my business with cattle on the road? withdraw them out, on my property, together with my groundmen, in fact they began, the expulsion process.
“I then happened to be driving out so I joined them in my vehicle, my groundmen are used to the drilled, because this is not the first time it’s happening. So, I joined them in my vehicle in ordering the cattle, out of my premises. Now after that, once they were out of my property, that’s when I arrested the herders. Why did I arrest them? On exiting my property, just outside my gate, I beckoned to the herders, the herdsmen and said “come on with you”, haven’t I given you a warning before?
“He turns around and then proceeded walking head-on, so I walked towards him and the next thing, he led me to the bush and disappeared and his other assistant, had also disappeared. So, we were left with the cattle and so I pinned in the cattle by the roadside, called one of my groundmen to stand there with me and we kept the cattle there while I sent for the Police to come and take over, that is a very simple, ordinary, commonsensical proceeding. Why should the police man deemed necessary to suggest that these cattle and the herdsmen were never in my property, I mean, what kind of nonsense? it’s a distraction from more serious issues. I hate to be personally at the center of issues like this, I am more concerned with what’s happening to students in Ondo who were being waylaid by herdsmen, being kidnapped.
“I’m more concerned about people in Ogun State, who were being butchered even while the governor is setting up a commission of inquiry. So please, I wish to beg the Police, don’t make a big issue out of this, don’t lie. I don’t need to come here and address anyone.”
While saying it was wrong to demonise the whole Fulani herdsmen because of few among them that engage in criminality, Soyinka, however, kicked against compensation for violent herdsmen and bandits as being clamoured for in some quarters.
“Not that the kind of restitution, upside down restitution, been proposed by Sheik Gumi, I just read the report yesterday, that these herdsmen, these bandits should be compensated, what kind of rubbish is that? When we said those who offended this nation, must be in the process of apologising and even offering some kind of restitution to persuade the rest of us that they want to come back into the community of equal beings, entitled to the same privileges, responsible for their own lives, in fact, accepting their responsibility, accepting responsibility for their kind, obeying the law, the Constitution, that’s the only way towards peace.”
On ranching, Soyinka said:”Is late but is good, better late than never, this is a commonsensical approach, ranching. You want to ranch? Even my property which is been invaded, if you say you want to ranch, is your property available? We sit down together, negotiate, you fence it, you are responsible if you allow your cow to go and destroy other people’s things. I can rent out, it’s business, if you want, come and talk to me.
“So, I congratulate, the governors for waking up at long last and then meeting this very simple commonsensical approach to modern ranching and I wish to appeal also, this is one of the things that can be done at the center. We should simultaneously try and resurrect all those cultures, the wagons. I grew up with cattle wagons on the tree, I grew up with Lorries taking cattle from North to South East West etc.
“We need to resurrect all those facilities, but in the meantime, don’t say that because the facilities have been allowed to go into depravity and killed people to prove a point. Simultaneously as I said, we can also put in the infrastructure to enable those who want to pursue this trade, to be able to do so meaningfully and practically. That’s the best we can do, in the meantime.”