By Olawale Jokotoye
Ogun Governor, Dapo Abiodun, has described recent reports that 5000 indigenes of the state displaced as a result of clashes between herdsmen and farmers are now taking refuge in Benin Republic as fake news.
Recent reports had indicated that the villagers, mostly in the Yewa axis of the state escaped to the nearby Benin Republic after they were attacked and displaced by herdsmen.
But speaking during presentation of vehicles and motorcycles to security operatives for patrol in the Yewa axis of the state in Abeokuta on Tuesday, Abiodun described the story that 5000 Ogun indigenes are now refugees in Benin Republic as false.
He added that some of the villagers who escaped to Abeokuta, the state capital during crisis between farmers and herders were accommodated by the state government.
“I wonder who took the census and how that can take place without meetings between Nigerian officials and those of the Republic of Benin,” the Governor said while described the reports as false.
“Some who came to Abeokuta because of the crisis were provided with free accommodation and so I wonder why some people would just sit down somewhere and be cooking up untrue stories,” the Governor said.
Abiodun explained that the state Ministry of Justice has already started working to ensure that there are necessary laws to punish publishers of fake news.
At the occasion, the Governor presented 10 patrol vans and 20 motorcycles to the security operatives for patrol in the Yewa axis of the state as part of efforts to check the high incidence of herders/farmers’ crisis in the area.
Abiodun recalled that when the crisis broke out a few weeks ago, he had constituted a Joint Special Security Intervention Squad as well as a high-powered government delegation to mediate between the two parties.
He said the donation of the patrol vans and motorcycles is a fulfilment of his promise to return peace to the crises-affected areas in the Yewa axis.
He also recalled that he promised to support the task force with operational equipment and other necessary support needed to accomplish its task.
“This gesture is therefore a step in making good my promise to support the task force for the success of its assignment,” he said.
The governor said that the people of the area who lived close to the border area of the Republic of Benin usually had difficulties making distress calls in times of trouble.
He explained that the state had been having a series of meetings with telecommunication firms, adding that plans are in top gear to deploy more masts in the area to address the issue.
Abiodun explained that the equipment were meant only for the Yewa axis, saying that the same measure would be replicated in other parts of the state.
Saying that Ogun is widely known for peace, the governor assured that the government will ensure that anyone found sponsoring or perpetuating crime in the state will be severely dealt with.
He called on the people of the state to stop ascribing crime to a particular ethnic group, saying that “a criminal is a criminal regardless of where he comes from”.
The governor said that the proliferation of fake news has also contributed to deepening the crises in the area.
The state Commissioner of Police, Edward Ajogun, in his remarks, commended Gov. Abiodun “for a promise kept”.
He assured that all security agencies in the state are committed to restoring peace to the area.
According to him, the measure is a warning signal to perpetrators of violence that hard times await them.