USAfrica: Soyinka tells Buhari Nigerians oppose cattle grazing agenda

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Special to USAfrica magazine (Houston) and USAfricaonline.com, first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the Internet

Prof. Wole Soyinka, human rights activist, critic, poet and Nobel laureate has called on Nigeria’s President, retired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, to respect the popular opinion of Nigerians against imposing cattle grazing zones in the country. Buhari recently issued an order for the review of 368 grazing routes in 25 states (out of 36). Soyinka queried “Why is this President obsessed about something being rejected right, left and centre?…. He doesn’t seem to hear things. Virtually the whole nation is screaming, ‘We don’t want any open cattle grazing; whether they go by the name; cattle routes or grazing reserves.’ Around the nation, we have opinions surmounting the antiquated modes of cattle rearing. Even the all-powerful, untouchable Miyetti Allah, patron of the Fulani herdsmen, has gone on record to say ranching is what they want. When all that has been settled in rational terms and then we hear a new version of RUGA….  The obsession is on such a level that even people who consider themselves rational like myself begin to wonder if this is really about cattle or an agenda that we don’t know about? Like the Yoruba will say, “Eleyi koja oju lasan (Roughly translated to mean an act that defies logic).’’

Prof. Soyinka added that he is making “an appeal to the government of the Republic of Benin” to free the leader of the Yoruba Nation movement, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, who has been detained in prison by Nigeria’s neighbor — since July 19, 2021. Soyinka argued that Igboho (who is declared wanted by Buhari’s government) has not committed any crime known to the laws of Nigeria. “He is against Fulani herdsmen tyranny and threw out criminal herdsmen terrorizing his neighborhood.  That’s his real crime. I refuse to accept that Igboho is being chased because he peacefully demonstrated his position vis-a-vis the destiny of this nation which is a fundamental human right of anybody. Somebody called for secession or a separate state, I don’t consider that (a criminal act) and nowhere is that declared a criminal act as long as it’s done peacefully and collectively within the law. You don’t criminalize the action and in addition commit a criminal act against such an individual. That was what the security services did by raiding Igboho’s home at 2am, killing two of his people and claiming, without a warrant or anything, that they found weapons in his house. Who is going to believe that cock and bull story?…. Why are you (the government of the Republic of Benin) keeping the victim in your prison? What crime did he commit against your state that you are holding him in prison, instead of letting him continue his journey? Igboho has not committed any crime against any known law in this nation. Thus, to ask for his repatriation is adding insult to injury.  You invaded his house, destroyed his property, chased him into the wilderness and you are pursuing him. We ask the government of the Republic of Benin to release the man to continue his business which was interrupted unjustly.  Please, rectify this error and don’t compound t any further by holding Sunday Igboho in prison one day long.’’