The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, has said dialogue is the first step towards the resolution of the herdsmen-farmers’ crisis.
A statement yesterday by the monarch noted that since war destroys, peace should be preferred.
He urged security agencies to work for peace and unity of the country.
Oba Adeyemi decried the use of firearms, including AK-47 rifles, to protect cattle.
According to him, the use of arms among herdsmen is new to what used to be a business endeavour.
He said: “In those days, sticks were the only weapons with which breeders directed their cattle. When was it the practice that Fulani breeders would arm themselves to the teeth just to protect their cattle? In the past, part of the guidance which breeders gave to their cattle was to ensure that they did not destroy farm crops along their ways. But today, with the arm at their disposal, some Fulani breeders choose to target green leaves of farmers’ crops as good protein for their cattle and, therefore, lead their cattle aggressively to that direction.”
Oba Adeyemi urged traditional rulers to be cautious in their public utterances in this trying period of the nation’s life.
He said: “The greatest challenge facing the country at the moment is the herdsmen. The recent Benue State experience is too fresh to be forgotten so soon.”
The monarch cautioned his colleagues against such act, adding that a responsible traditional ruler should not be seen in any religious or ethnic justification in the present situation.
Oba Adeyemi said: “The institution of traditional rulers should use both individuals and collective efforts to quell the crisis from further escalation. It is unfortunate that some highly placed traditional rulers should see the recent Benue incident as a justified reprisal quoting fictitious and imaginary figures of similar incident that had happened at another neighbouring state.
“We have managed in Oyo area to ensure that the cattle herdsmen are kept in proper place and the farmer’s crops and interest are adequately protected,” he said.