Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, on Thursday faulted the police’s account of the incident at his Abeokuta, Ogun State home, saying hundreds of cattle invaded it on Tuesday.
He said it took the intervention of himself and his grounds’ men to get them out of his property.
The police, in a statement on Wednesday, had said only a cow strayed into Soyinka’s compound and there was no danger to the laureate or his family.
Narrating the incident during an interview with ARISE NEWS Channels, Soyinka, however, clarified that he was not personally attacked.
He said: “I am here physically. I didn’t suffer any injury. That never happened, but cattle invaded my home. Why should the police go to such length as to suggest that I had nothing better to do than to go and be accosting cattle on the road? What is my business with cattle on the road? We drove them out of my house together with my grounds’ men. In fact, they began the expulsion process.”
He stated that it was later that he called the police to take over.
Soyinka accused the police of lying over the incident.
He said: “Why should the police find it necessary to say these cattle and the herdsmen were never in my property? What kind of nonsense? It is a distraction from more serious issues. I hate to be personally at the centre of issues like this. I am more concerned about students in Ondo who were being waylaid by herdsmen, being kidnapped. I am more concerned about people in Ogun State who are being butchered. So, please, I wish to beg the police, don’t make a big issue out of this. Don’t lie.”
He also blamed the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) for the stereotyping of the Fulani.
“I am very glad you mentioned this issue of a Yoruba man being the owner of the cattle; it is very critical. In fact, you will notice that I rarely use the word Fulani; it is unfortunate that any kind of crime has to be linked to any section of any ethnic community. It is something that nobody is comfortable with.
“But unfortunately, Miyetti Allah themselves and their spokespeople were the ones who identified and claimed this crime as their own. I know exactly when they did. So, the whole nation followed suit,” he said.
According to him, it is not the entire people called Fulani who are guilty of these crimes.
He accused the leadership of MACBAN of being 90 per cent responsible for the condition Nigerians found themselves.
Soyinka said the leadership of MACBAN should take back their words, apologise to the nation and even be subjected to some form of restitution to the whole nation.
On the ethnic division in the country and what political leaders should do, he said the first thing was to identify criminality.
“Cattle breeding itself is not criminal, it is when you encroach on other people’s right even to the extent of displacing them, humiliating them, dehumanising them, raping their women, and killing them. That is when it becomes a crime against humanity and must be dealt with very firmly. Even with dealing with it, we must be careful to separate the grain from the shaft,” he said.
He stated that President Muhammadu Buhari does not understand how grave the situation is.
“I have said it again and again that I don’t believe that he is in charge because it is not possible in my view, for a Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to say he is presiding over a nation and things get to this level. Something is critically wrong within the leadership of this nation. That is why we civilians must come in,” Soyinka said.
Chuks Okocha, Eromosele Abiodun
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