Two foremost Yoruba leaders yesterday differed on the circumstances surrounding the death of the daughter of Pa Reuben Fasoranti, the national leader of the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere. While the incident has continued to generate heated debates across the polity, the divergence between National Leader of the All Progressives Congress Bola Tinubu and Ooni of Ife Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi might further cripple the ethnic group’s chances to curb insecurity through collective action. Mrs. Funke Olakunri was killed on Friday as she traveled to Lagos.
The Ooni declared that the southwest has had enough of killings by herdsmen, saying it is time for the region to unite and defend itself against murderous bandits.“I call on all the people of the Yoruba race at this time to be united. The time has come to end this killing. This killing must end. Enough is enough!” the monarch stated during a thanksgiving ceremony for House of Representatives member, Olufemi Bamisile, in Kota Ekiti, Ekiti State.
His words were reechoed by the officiating minister, Rev. Emmanuel Abejide, of Methodist Church Nigeria, who warned that things could get worse unless the spate of killing stops. But Tinubu faulted claims that herdsmen were responsible. The APC chieftain who paid a condolence visit to Fasoranti told reporters: “I am extremely concerned about security. I don’t want the stigma. I can go through the history of kidnapping in Nigeria and we know how and where it all started. There are a lot of copycats.
“How many years ago have we faced insecurity in the country and cases of kidnapping? Is Evans too, who was arrested and made disclosures, also a herdsman? I don’t want to be political, but I will ask where are the cows?” The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) also toed Tinubu’s view when it cautioned against making hasty conclusions on the incident. The director of the group, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, appealed to Nigerians to wait for the outcome of police investigations and avoid ethnic stigmatization.
Condoling with Fasoranti in a statement yesterday, he said: “It is necessary at this point to warn Nigerians against spreading fake news or jumping to conclusions. We must not allow those who have a hidden agenda to destroy this country. Earlier reports had said that the killers were Fulani herdsmen. “But the police who arrived at the scene early enough to rescue seven of the abducted victims said the identity could only be disclosed after the culprits have been apprehended. Benin-Ore road is notorious for kidnapping and armed robbery. Anybody can fall victim. Let us face the criminals and not any particular tribe.
“There are criminal elements in all tribes, just as there are good citizens all over this country. There is nothing like a siege by one tribe on another because kidnapping and armed robbery are crimes happening everywhere.”The Ooni’s position, however, resonated with some Yoruba groups. The Yoruba Youth Socio-cultural Association (YYSA) described as untrue the statement by President Muhammadu Buhari that the country’s security agencies were gaining the upper hand in the fight against banditry, kidnapping, and terrorism. Buhari had made the assertion on Saturday during the graduation of Senior Course 41, Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC), Jaji, Kaduna State.