Church attack : Fulani herdsmen, other northerners relocating from Owo – Sarkin Hausawa
Nuruddeen Abubakar, the Sarkin Hausawa of Owo, says about 70 percent of northerners living in the Ondo State’s community have relocated to the North following the terror attack on Saint Francis Catholic Church, Owo.
PlatinumPost reports that the terror attack which claimed the lives of 40 worshipers, was blamed on the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP), a development that appears to have exposed many innocent residents to possible reprisal attack.
Speaking in an interview with Daily Trust, Abubakar, who is the traditional ruler of the Arewa Community in the town, said even before the terror attack, some northerners were facing some security challenges.
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His words : “Before the recent terrorists’ attack, hoodlums used to attack the Arewa Community in Owo, robbing them of their property. As a result of the attacks which have become regular, more than 70 per cent of Arewa people living in the area have relocated to the North. But for me, I can’t go anywhere because I have settled down here.
“We have been living in fear since then. On that very fateful Sunday, some hoodlums invaded our community, chasing our people with dangerous weapons. Majority of us are traders, while some of our youths are commercial bike riders known as okada riders. The Fulani that live among us are nomadic herders. When the hoodlums struck, they dispersed traders and robbed them of their commodities. They invaded our shops at Oja Oba and stole our commodities such as rice, beans and other food items which we sell in the markets. They also destroyed the water melons that were brought from the North in three trucks. They vandalized tomatoes and other perishable goods.
“They also attacked several individuals and collected money and other valuables from them. Afterwards, they moved to Towashi where they collected over N600,000 from our traders as well as two bikes when they attacked some bike riders. But we later recovered the bikes from the police. The hoodlums also invaded the Scraps Market where our people deal in scraps. They vandalized their property and made away with some of them.
“The attackers also invaded the Fulani settlement at Ishuwada Junction where they also collected over N600,000 from their victims. As if all these were not enough, they also descended on the Sarkin Fulani house where they attacked the herders and their women and collected some money from them. Hoodlums have been posing big threats to us.
“The traditional rulers have been trying their best to address the insecurity situation. They are calming us down to avoid reprisal. They also conduct several meetings with us. But the hoodlums are a serious threat to us.
” More than 70 per cent of our people have fled the community. The Fulani herdsmen have left with their cattle, while the Hausa have gone back to the North. But I am going no where; I’ve spent more than 40 years here and raised a big family. So, where am I running to again? Who am I going to leave my family with? We have been living peacefully with our hosts and we don’t know anything about the church attack. We don’t have hands in it.
“Some security personnel from the Nigeria Army and Amotekun came to our community in Sabo last Friday and made some investigations from house to house and shop to shop. They searched everywhere but could not find any harmful thing in the community. They asked every one of us living in Sabo, including the Yoruba to come out and sit on the bare ground where they conducted the search. They checked every shop and house but could not trace any weapon to us, except some cutlasses used by herders for grazing.
” After their investigations, they told us that they couldn’t find anything harmful even though they were told that there had been weapons in our possession. It is only one Fulani man that refused to come out when people were asked do so. He decided to lock himself in his shop. When they broke in, they found him making calls. He and one other man who refused to comply were arrested and taken away by soldiers.”