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Kogi and its uninvited guests

By Femi Mokikan

Good morning Distinguished Sons and Daughters of Okun Nation at home and in the Diaspora. We thank God for the gift of another day. We believe we are all doing well and staying safe.

We feel the need to bring to your attention recent development as it relates to the Mandate you graciously gave to us when you elected us into the National Executive of Okun Development Association in October 2017.
This development is with particular focus on the security situation in Okunland and some of the events following from our efforts/interventions.

The influx of the armed Fulani, both local and foreign, into Okunland and the security threat this poses to our existential reality, has been the most critical challenge keeping the ODA National Executive awake all through the night.

By now, no one is in doubt that the armed Fulani issue is a National issue. However, for whatever reasons, there appears to be no orchestrated National strategy to deal with this profoundly serious security challenge. Each affected part of the country is therefore left to work out, as much as practicable, a framework for peaceful coexistence with all non-indigenes in their geographical territories.

One of the first steps we took after coming to office was to set up a Security Committee under the Chairmanship of Mr. Tunde Ibrahim, to facilitate all our initiatives in this area. A lot has happened in the last three years that we came to office. Because of the nature of security matters, we do not usually bring many of these to the public domain for discussion.

Many of you will recall that when the state was alleged to have officially given an open invitation to the Fulani to feel free to come and settle anywhere in the state, we consulted widely with all stakeholders in Okunland and formulated our position which was given wide publicity. What we feared most then did not take long after our position was made known before it started manifesting. It has today assumed a more terrible and disturbing dimension. For this reason, our Security Committee has practically been on the road 24/7 crisscrossing from one part of Okunland to another for the purpose of keeping the peace and promoting security consciousness.

Lately, the challenge has become more complex as the armed Fulani are arriving in different parts of Okunland in large numbers at almost regular intervals. They are even more daring in their threats to our ancestral land, our farmers, their farms and farm produce, and are inching closer and closer to homes in many parts.
Despite our extremely weak financial position, our Security Committee has been unrelenting. We have collaborated with other Security Committees in other parts of Okunland and this has been helpful.

Recently, one of our Leaders In Okunland, Dr. David Atteh, who has been a strong pillar of ODA generally and the bridge between ODA and some other Security Committees In Okunland, posted on many of Okun related platforms his thoughts on the reality of the security situation in Okunland and way forward. This, for the first time, elicited prompt reaction from the DSS.

Do not forget that several times in the past, reports had been made to security agencies in the state about actual attacks, leading in some cases to deaths or complete destruction of acres of farmlands, without any meaningful response. This time around, the DSS deemed it necessary to invite Dr. Atteh as a follow up to his post, which some Tribune journalists mischievously presented in their paper as an interview he granted them. From his account of his engagement with the DSS, it appeared a productive meeting.

Dr. Atteh accepted ownership of the content but denied ever granting any interview to any journalist for that matter, let alone the Tribune Newspaper. They however raised some issues which only the Chairman of the ODA Security Committee could properly and appropriately respond to. For that reason, Mr. Tunde Ibrahim was invited by the DSS to report in their office in Lokoja. He honored their invitation on 13/8/2020, after returning from a previous trip. Following more information from him, the DSS agreed that there would be a joint operation to dislodge those at Mopamuro LG.

That ought to gladden our heart.

On Saturday 15/8/2020, the DSS officer in Mopamuro was to accompany the other members of our Security Committee, who are essentially the hunters and vigilante groups in the LG, to the locations of these Fulani for proper assessment and report back.

Mr. Tunde Ibrahim made sure this was properly agreed. Unfortunately, and for whatever reasons, the Officer declined following them contrary to previous agreement. Only our team went without the DSS officer and came back with several pictures of these Fulani and their colonies/ tents etc. for the Officer.

The Officer rejected these photographs and said they were inadequate for operation. At that point, Mr. Ibrahim told him that was the best we could do under the circumstance. A few hours later, the Director of DSS contacted Dr. Atteh to find out if it was Mr. Tunde Ibrahim that was giving him information about the Fulani to which he said ODA is the official source of information on Security matters.

Not long after, the DSS Officer got in touch with Mr. Ibrahim that the Director would like to see him. This will be his second invitation on the same matter within a few days. Mr. Ibrahim will be honoring that invitation later that day.
We wish to reconfirm that both Dr. David Atteh and Mr. Tunde Ibrahim, together with other members of the Security Committee, are operating under the full awareness and approval of the ODA, in line with your mandate to us as mentioned earlier. This development should therefore be of interest to you, and please be rest assured that we will report back to you as soon as his meeting with the DSS is over.

We sincerely hope that now that the DSS is engaging our representatives at this level, the engagement will be the beginning of greater cooperation between us two so that we can work together to address this challenge through a meaningful and enduring win-win solution for all parties.
Without peace, progress will be stunted.
Long Live Nigeria
Long Live Kogi
Long Live Okun Nation

Barrister Femi Mokikan, National President, Okun Development Association.

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