Residents and some monarchs of Ketu-speaking villages in Yewa North Local Government Area, Ogun State have lamented that they were brutalised by soldiers who escorted herdsmen to graze in their communities.
In separate interviews with The Nation, the residents narrated that the soldiers, numbering about 10, flogged them for daring to prevent the herders from grazing.
It was learnt that one of the residents, identified simply as Mulero, was beaten mercilessly, leaving him with serious injuries, for insisting that the herdsmen would not be allowed to graze.
It was also gathered that traditional rulers were beaten after they were forced to convoke a meeting.
According to them, the herdsmen, who had departed Ubeku village after their continued presence was rejected suddenly resurfaced about 2 pm on December 19, 2020, with the soldiers from the 35 Artillery Brigade, Alamala, Abeokuta.
The soldiers headed straight to the palace of the traditional ruler of the community, Chief Olaleye Adigun, calling out the villagers and warning them against preventing the evicted herdsmen from returning to the village.
It was in the middle of this encounter that the soldiers were told that the herders would not be allowed to remain in the community because of their brutal killing of residents and the destruction of their farmlands in recent times.
One of the residents, identified simply as Mulero, said, “Everyone was frightened by the action and utterances of the soldiers but I summoned courage to tell them how a Geography teacher Mr. Yomi Akinola and two students of Community High School, Ibeku, among others, were killed by the herdsmen while our women were raped and killed on their way to the farm.
“Before I knew it, the herdsmen had motioned to the soldiers who immediately pulled me out of the audience and flogged me mercilessly with a wire whip. It was as if I stole something valuable.
“As I speak, my body still aches because of the wounds, even after I had been treated in a hospital.
“Numerous other villagers were subjected to the brutal act as the soldiers escorted the herdsmen from one village to another all in a bid to intimidate us into allowing them to graze on our farms.”
Also, indigenes of Iselu, Ibeku, Agbon-Ojodu, Asa and other villages were also harassed and assaulted by the soldiers at the instance of the herdsmen.